USA’s first all-electric passenger-vehicle ferry enters service in Alabama

Alabama Department of Transportation
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Alabama’s historic Gee’s Bend Ferry recently re-entered service after being converted from geared-diesel to become the first zero-emission, electrically powered passenger/car ferry in the USA.

Owned by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and operated by HMS Ferries, the 15-vehicle/132-passenger ferry runs on the Alabama River between Camden and Boykin.

“As a first-of-its-kind vessel in North America, the Gee’s Bend Ferry will have an impact far beyond the state borders,” said Tim Aguirre, general manager for HMS Ferries Alabama. “Successfully achieving United States Coast Guard approval of the vessel helps open this technology across the maritime industry.”

Glosten, a naval architecture and marine engineering firm headquartered in Seattle, provided concept through contract design and shipyard technical support of the vessel conversion. HMS Ferries teamed with HMS Consulting and managed the project from start to finish.

“This was a significant project in the marine industry,” said Glosten marine engineer Jeff Rider. “The Gee’s Bend Ferry demonstrates how battery technology can be implemented as a means of propulsion, paving the way for further adoption of this technology.”

Marine Interface, of East Northport, New York, integrated the new electric propulsion system with support from American Traction Systems (power conversion) and Spear Power Systems (batteries). Cochran Marine was responsible for shipboard and shore-side charging stations.

Conversion of the ferry was made possible by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Funded through ALDOT, the EPA supported the project with a US$1.09m Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant to the Gee’s Bend Ferry in 2016.

USA’s first all-electric passenger-vehicle ferry enters service in Alabama