Damen Shipyards completes North America’s first all-electric ferries

Damen Shipyards completes North America’s first all-electric ferries

Damen Shipyards Group

The two ferries departed from Damen Shipyards Galati for Lake Ontario on a semi-submersible vessel

Damen Shipyards Galati has completed construction of the first all-electric ferries to sail in the USA, Amherst Islander II and Wolfe Islander IV. 

The two ferries were ordered by the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario. They departed the Romanian yard on a semi-submersible transport vessel, and will arrive in Lake Ontario, Canada, in mid-September.  

Both open-deck vessels are equipped for fully electric operation, but also include twin diesel generators installed to allow hybrid and full diesel propulsion if necessary. The ships also feature 1B Ice Class hulls and 1A Ice Class azimuth thrusters, allowing them to operate in temperatures down to -25C.  

The delivery of the vessels marks the completion of the first phase of the two-stage project. The second stage, which is currently underway, will involve Damen working with the Ontario Government to install the facilities that will enable the vessels to use shore power supplied via integrated shore charging and mooring systems. This involves a complete rebuild of the docks to accommodate the new vessels and the onshore electrical equipment. The systems will also utilise load displacement and peak-shaving technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs. 

The vessels will use a fully automatic charging system developed by Wabtec Stemmann with features that include motion compensation to ensure a stable connection between the ship and the shore in rough seas. The system will deliver six megawatts of power, meaning that charging will take around 10 minutes.  

The shoreside works are due for completion in 2022, with crews to be trained in their operation during the remainder of 2021. The ferries will therefore initially commence operations in hybrid mode using the diesel generators to supply electricity to the motors. 

“This integrated project is the first of its kind and one that we hope will demonstrate that fully-electric ferries of this size are a viable proposition,” said Leo Postma, Damen’s area director of sales in the Americas. “Damen now offers turnkey packages for organisations looking for integrated all-electric ferry systems, working with local contractors and suppliers to install the shoreside infrastructure that best suits local requirements and conditions. It has been a pleasure working with the Government of Ontario to bring this project to fruition and we very much look forward to seeing it fully operational.” 

Damen is providing support with staff in Ontario for the 16-month warranty period and is also establishing a service hub in British Columbia to provide long-term support to the Canadian market.

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
14 September 2021

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