Hybrid German cat makes short work of shallows

'Liindsand' shallow water taxi is hit, say operators and system makers 'Liindsand' shallow water taxi is hit, say operators and system makers

Initial experience with the new, eco-friendly, hybrid battery and diesel drive on Germany’s new Wadden Sea taxi catamaran 'Liinsand'  is reported very positive, writes Tom Todd.

A spokesman for operators Watten Fährlinien, told Maritime Journal the 18.7m x 7.20m fast catamaran – dubbed Wattentaxi  - was doing exactly what it was designed for.

In operation since Spring, it has provided fast, new transport service in the shallow tidal flats – Watten -  of the German North Frisian islands. Its owners say Liindsand is a bookable taxi, not a ferry, and that the number of passengers determines the price.

The new cat boasts two COBRA (Compact Battery Rack) systems developed by Becker Marine Systems, each with 50kw hours, and two parallel redundant Scania DI13 78M diesel engines of 405kW along with Reintjes hybrid WAF244 gears, two propellers and two Becker rudders.Top speed is16 knots and Liindsand can run on battery or diesel alone.

“Sailing in port and close to shore is emission-free and activity during quayside berthing is also noise-free” the spokesman said.

With the market for alternative marine propulsion systems growing, Hamburg-based Becker has opened a special battery division to develop COBRA. Initial experience has been positive and Liindsand is already a successful reference project, Becker said.

Dirk Lehmann, Becker MD and Wattentaxi shareholder, summed up:  “Clean ship operation is achieved by using state-of-the-art, emission-free diesel engines, a newly developed hybrid transmission and high-performance batteries for low-emission Wattentaxi operation”, he said.

The COBRA system is based on efficient lithium-ion cells and is specially designed for marine operation. It “impresses by its lightness and compactness", added Lehmann. "Compared to conventional battery suppliers it leads in terms of weight and space requirements”, he said.  It is also reported easy to install.

Godehard Gauf, Director of Battery Systems, said Becker had sought the smallest system possible because of the lack of space in ship engine rooms. Development however had also covered issues like safety, service life and price. In principle COBRA can be used on all types of ships, like offshore supply, harbour and port workboats, passenger ships, car ferries and even larger cargo ships, Becker claims.

Liindsand carries up to 50 passengers, draws only 1.35 m and is virtually tide independent. It was built by the Loca Mühendislik Shipyard in Turkey.

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