Designed by Elliott Bay Design Group, the new ferry will be 190 by 62 feet and have capacity for 1,200 passengers. (Photo courtesy of Conrad Industries)

Conrad Building Hybrid-Electric Ferry For New York Harbor

New York Harbor will soon have its first public, hybrid-electric ferry, with construction of a new Governors Island ferry underway at Conrad Industries’ shipyard in Morgan City, La. New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Clare Newman, president and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, made the announcement March 29.

The forthcoming ferry, designed by Elliott Bay Design Group, a national leader in the deployment of battery and hybrid-electric technology on passenger and vehicle ferries, will measure 190 by 62 feet, with a molded depth of 13 feet. The yet-to-be-named ferry will have room for 1,200 passengers and offer a cruising speed of 10 knots. The vessel will be equipped with a lower-level lounge that is ADA-accessible.

“Visiting Governors Island is a great way to support cutting-edge climate solutions, and, soon, visitors will be able to go one step further just by traveling there,” Adams said. “As New Yorkers transition to greener forms of transportation, the city and our partners are leading the way with cleaner, more efficient ways to go just about anywhere. The next generation deserves a green city and a vibrant Governors Island, and this first-of-its-kind ferry will help us deliver both.”

The hybrid propulsion system will allow the vessel to operate in battery-only mode or battery-assisted hybrid mode with diesel backup. Operating in the hybrid mode will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 600 tons annually, compared to the current ferry. Governors Island trustees and New York City officials plan to eventually install rapid charging stations on Manhattan and Governors islands, which will allow the vessel to operate in battery-only mode, lowering emissions to near zero.

“This hybrid ferry marks a historic step forward in expanding access to Governors Island while promoting state-of-the-art and sustainable technology to power our ferry fleet,” Newman said. “Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors board our vessels and journey to Governors Island to experience our rich recreational, cultural and educational resources. We are thrilled to make the journey easier for our visitors while helping to lead the charge in electrifying the vessels of New York Harbor.”

The vessel will operate every day in the summer months, transporting tourists and residents alike from Battery Park to the 172-acre island that once served as a base for the U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard.

Stakeholders expect to deploy the new ferry in the summer of 2024.

“We are excited to build and deliver this ferry to the people of New York City,” said Johnny Conrad, chairman and CEO of Conrad Shipyard. “Since Governors Island is accessible only by ferry, we are proud that the Trust for Governors Island has selected us to play such a vital role in its growth and progress. This ferry will be the first-ever hybrid vehicle and passenger ferry in New York Harbor. Conrad is proud to be at the forefront of alternate energy solutions in the marine industry.”

John W. Waterhouse, founder and principal of Elliott Bay Design Group, said the long-term impact of the new ferry will be quite impressive.

“Ferries are a vital part of transportation infrastructure, lasting 40 to 60 years or more,” Waterhouse said. “At Elliott Bay Design Group, we work closely with our clients and their teams to ensure the vessel is fit for purpose and engineered to match a long life. The best clients are those that truly collaborate, so the resulting vessel shows the best of designer and client. Working with the Trust for Governors Island has been a real pleasure. We believe the vessel will be a reliable component in delivering the Governors Island experience to visitors.”

Climate personnel for the city of New York placed the project in the context of the larger effort to reduce emissions citywide and put climate change front-and-center.

“All aboard for healthier air and a reduction in the emissions that are causing climate change,” said Rohit T. Aggarwala, chief climate officer and commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. “In order to slow the changes in our climate that we are already seeing, such as record-breaking and deadly storms, we must have all hands on deck, and we applaud today’s announcement from Mayor Adams and the Trust for Governors Island.”

Kizzy Charles-Guzman, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice, said the ferry itself will complement planned climate-related installations on Governors Island.

“I can’t wait to ride my city’s first public, hybrid-electric ferry, which will offer a scenic ride to Governors Island’s future Center for Climate Solutions as we enjoy cleaner air and our city’s greatest physical asset: its water,” said Charles-Guzman. “This is a shining example of New York City leading by example.”

The forthcoming ferry will replace the venerable, diesel-powered mv. Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, which has been in service close to 67 years.