S.F.-Alcatraz Ferry Operator Eyes Hybrids

Thursday, May 18, 2006
With the signing of a new 10-year contract between the National Park Service and Hornblower Cruises and Events, two hybrid-electric ferries will eventually be crossing to the famed former penitentiary Alcatraz Island from San Francisco, San Jose Mercury News reported. Alcatraz Cruises, a division of Hornblower Cruises and Events, will take over the route, now handled by Blue and Gold Fleet, on Sept. 25, the National Park Service recently announced. The new boats will comply with emission requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Hornblower Cruises and Events has agreed to build the first ferry within two years and the second vessel within five years. The 600-passenger boats are modeled on ferries designed by the Australian company Solar Sailor and operate at between 12 and 15 knots. Both ferries will harness solar and wind energy and each will be fitted with a sail that can be used in windy conditions but also retracted in extreme weather. The boats will be fitted with large batteries that will power the vessels' electric motors and which can be recharged onshore. When necessary, the ferries will use diesel generators that are designed to reduce emissions to between 70 and 90 percent of the emissions released by conventional diesel-powered boats. The ferries could also serve as transbay shuttles in the event of emergencies such as earthquakes because they are able to run at low speeds on wind and electricity alone, according to the organization. (Source: San Jose Mercury News)

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