An aerospace company is contributing to emissions reduction efforts in US waterways with its clean energy power and propulsion technology.


'Enhydra' has been operating on electric-hybrid technology since 2018. Photo: Red and White Fleet

BAE Systems is taking its experience with electric power and propulsion systems in the transit bus industry to the shipyard, helping operators make the switch from a combustion engine to electric or fuel cell power and propulsion for the vessels they build.

The company's HybriGen power and propulsion system is designed not only to cut emissions, but to create a smoother ride for passengers and help operators save on fuel and maintenance costs.

Enhydra making waves

One of the first to make the jump to the HybriGen system was the Red & White Fleet. The San Francisco Bay-based sightseeing company's newest vessel Enhydra has been operating on electric-hybrid technology since 2018. Since then, the 128ft excursion vessel has saved roughly 35% of its fuel, only needing to operate its combustion engine part of the time.

On the US West Coast, Kitsap Transit is using an electric-hybrid system for its passenger ferry, Waterman, which operates out of Washington State’s Port Orchard. In San Francisco, Call of the Sea is taking the unique approach of using the technology to power a 132-foot wooden tall ship that teaches young people about maritime history while promoting sea stewardship. Just across the bay, the 70ft Water-Go-Round passenger catamaran is expected to launch on its maiden voyage later this year with a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries to drive its electric propulsion motors.

BAE Systems technology is also providing three vessels on the East Coast with complete electric power.

By Rebecca Jeffrey