All American Marine (AAM) and shipowner Switch Maritime have launched a hydrogen fuel cell-driven, electric-drive ferry, named Sea Change.

The 70-foot, 75-passenger zero-emissions ferry, which will operate in the California Bay Area, will now undergo operational trials.

Sea Change is said to be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US.

The acquiring of permits related to hydrogen fuel systems for maritime vessels from the US Coast Guard is still ongoing.

Once completed, this vessel will showcase the potential of zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for regulatory and commercial communities.

The project received funds through private capital from Switch Maritime, a US impact investment firm that is constructing North America’s first fleet of zero-emission maritime ships.

Sea Change features a hydrogen fuel cell power package delivered by Zero Emissions Industries.

It includes 360kW of Cummins fuel cells, along with Hexagon hydrogen storage tanks with a capacity of 246kg.

This system is combined with a 100kWh of lithium-ion battery, that has been supplied by XALT, as well as a 2 x 300kW electric propulsion system delivered by BAE Systems.

It offers the same operational workability as diesel with low maintenance and zero emissions.

The design of the ferry originates from Incat Crowther, while Hornblower Group was responsible for construction supervision and management.

The project obtained municipal support, including a $3m grant, from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), managed by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).

According to AAM, it was selected for executing this project due to its ‘experience building unique, high-quality vessels’.

Furthermore, the company’s new shipyard has an extended capacity and production capabilities able to accommodate additional, larger and more complex ships.

AAM president and COO Ron Wille said: “Hydrogen fuel cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies.

“AAM is continuing our tradition of building vessels on the leading edge of technology using advanced propulsion methods, which is why we are so proud to have completed construction on such a revolutionary vessel.”