Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

8 2 ROUNDTABLE The panel: FRAN COLL INS Chief Executive, Red Funnel SEAN COLL INS Co-Founder and CEO, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers MORGAN MOONEY CEO of San Juan Clipper, and Captain and Media Director of Fire Island Ferries Striking the right balance Simon Johnson asks three high-speed ferry operators how they plan to reduce emissions and adapt to new fuels while continuing to provide safe, cost-effective and reliable services to passengers Fast ferries have long been part of the everyday ferry scene, allowing operators to offer their customers more frequent and faster crossings. With pressure on fuel costs and demands for greener travel rising, our three executives share their thoughts on why they must consider new technologies, fuels, supply chain and shoreside infrastructure to ensure fast ferries continue to be cost-effective and an attractive option for passengers in future. What is clear is that they are all ready to embrace the challenges ahead and agree there is definitely a place for fast ferries in their ferry fleets. What are the biggest power, speed and fuel challenges facing high-speed ferry operators in 2022? FC: For pre-existing vessels, the biggest challenges are the rising cost of fuel and our moral imperatives as operators to reduce emissions and decarbonise our fleet as soon as possible. In 2022 and beyond, customers will continue to expect a fast and costefficient service which runs to timetable and is increasingly sustainable. Our small, modern high-speed vessels help us to operate efficiently. However, we must continue to adopt new technologies and explore ways to reduce our carbon footprint, whilst ensuring we meet our customers’ timetable requirements. SC: Small inland fast ferry operators like Uber Boat by Thames Clippers have very specific requirements. Our ferries must be capable of delivering a high-speed service, without requiring long charging times. Additionally, our boats must be as sustainable as possible because we operate in busy residential hubs. Hence, we must strike the correct balance between green alternative technology and standard diesel options. Currently, a ferry powered completely by batteries remains unrealistic. The volume of batteries required to deliver sufficient power would make the vessel too heavy, and the downtime period needed to charge the batteries would be so long as to be commercially unviable. It’s possible to imagine that a non-diesel power source, such as a hydrogen fuel cell, could work with batteries in future. For now, however, our brand is focusing on powering vessels with a hybrid mix of batteries and onboard power generation via low-emission engines. This supports the high-speed requirements of the vessels and also allows them to operate at low speed with zero emissions. MM: The biggest challenge is meeting the maritime industry’s zero-emissions goal. The new Tier Four technologies have increased the size and weight of engine packages, which requires vessels to have The host: S IMON JOHNSON Director of Shipshape Consulting