Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

8 4 ROUNDTABLE Can high-speed ferries still be an attractive proposition in the era of new fuels? FC: There is absolutely a place for highspeed ferries, particularly on domestic routes. Red Funnel provides a lifeline service for passengers travelling to school, work and medical appointments between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, so we prioritise service reliability when considering new technologies and fuel options. We’ll continue to take a risk-based and considered approach to new technology, adapting our overall operations to reduce our carbon footprint. Our passenger-only catamaran service is ideally placed to adopt new technologies due to the small vessel size and short crossing time, and we intend to continue offering a high-speed service. However, it’s essential that the systems are fully reliable and that the infrastructure and supply chain is in place to support new fuel sources. SC: Our service is used as a vital transport link for many commuters travelling in London, UK, and therefore it’s essential that our ferries continue to deliver a high-speed service. This remains attractive during the era of new fuels. MM: The ‘slow it down’ principle to burn less fuel will only work for so long, regardless of the ferry’s design or classification. New fuels will be an attractive proposition if they can meet the current speed versus cost expectations, while also allowing for minimal weight increase or dockside disruption, they will be very attractive. If hybrid or new fuel designs can create similar or more efficient services than those offered by today’s fleets, many operators will build or retrofit their vessels. What are your plans for fuelling your fleet in the future? FC: Our high-speed fleet is young, with the Red Jet 6 and 7 being launched in 2016 and 2018 respectively. They have modern engines and although they currently operate on marine gas oil, we’re not planning to retrofit them until the technology and infrastructure becomes more established. However, we closely monitor developments in the industry so that we are ready to consider retrofitting to support zero-carbon operations, or to add new decarbonised high-speed ferries to the fleet. There is a lot of discussion around using existing LNG networks and hybrid vessels, but these are transitionary solutions and the route to full decarbonisation is our priority. Therefore, we’re closely monitoring the development and trials of fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen, as well as the more established battery systems. SC: We have two hybrid vessels currently under construction. They will operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the capital, and recharge using “ We all have a responsibility to decarbonise our vessels as soon as possible” Fran Collins, Red Funnel The two new hybrid vessels for Uber Boat By Thames Clippers will operate solely on battery power in central London and recharge using biofuelled power while sailing outside that zone