NYC Getting First Hydrogen Hybrid Ferry

First there was the Hornblower Hybrid, a revolutionary vessel that began plying the waters of San Francisco Bay in 2008 using a combination of solar, wind and diesel power. Now Hornblower Cruises & Events is planning to bring the hybrid ferry concept to the East Coast for its service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but with a twist: The new 1,400-horsepower New York Hornblower Hybrid will run on energy generated by hydrogen fuel cells, in addition to diesel, solar and wind.

Statue Cruises, a division of San Francisco-based Hornblower, said that Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn., is working on what it called “the world’s first hybrid ferry using hydrogen fuel” and expects to be done by April 2011. “This boat will produce minimal carbon emissions and sip, rather than guzzle, diesel fuel,” Gavin Higgins, Derecktor’s VP for business development, said in a statement. “Along the way it will help make New York harbor a cleaner, safer and more pleasant place.”

New York Hornblower hydrogen hybrid

image via Hornblower Cruises & Events

Statue has the contract with the National Park Services to run cruises out to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. The company said the 600-passenger New York Hornblower will be powered in part by a proton exchange membrane fuel cell that turns hydrogen into electricity.

The company also outlined a long list “eco-friendly” elements to the vessel, including recycled glass countertops, LEED-certified carpet and aluminum wall coverings, LED video screens and low-VOC exterior paint, including a copper-free paint the company has been testing as part of an Environmental Protection Agency-funded project.

You can follow the vessel’s progress toward launch on a blog set up by Hornblower.

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.