Maritime Partners, Coast Guard Reach DBA For Hydrogen One

Metairie, La.-based Maritime Partners LLC, one of the largest providers of maritime financing solutions with a focus on Jones Act vessels, announced this month that the company has received a design basis agreement (DBA) from the U.S. Coast Guard for the mv. Hydrogen One, the company’s planned towboat that will be powered by a hydrogen generator system from e1 Marine.

Hydrogen One will be a first-of-its-kind vessel to feature fuel cell technology that converts methanol stored on board to hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be used on demand to charge a fuel cell and ultimately generate power for the vessel. About a year ago, the company successfully completed a string test of the system in Gothenburg, Sweden, to demonstrate the viability of using the methanol-to-hydrogen reformer as the sole power generation source for the vessel’s propulsion system.

“The signing of this agreement opens the pathway for us to deploy our technological capabilities,” said Bick Brooks, co-founder and CEO of Maritime Partners. “With this, Hydrogen One is one step closer to becoming the world’s first vessel to utilize hydrogen generator technology, greatly reducing emissions, increasing efficiency and providing a model for cleaner energy use as the industry continues to seek ways to decarbonize.”

The DBA process is the way the Coast Guard sets rules for new technology proposed for use on marine vessels. Also working on the project are Seattle-based Elliott Bay Design Group, which is designing Hydrogen One, Intracoastal Iron Works in Bourg, La., which will build the vessel, e1 Marine, RIX Industries and Power Cell Group.

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“Maritime Partners is strongly committed to developing and utilizing sustainable, clean energy solutions, as the entire maritime industry continues to seek alternative fuel options that are cleaner, greener and more efficient,” said Dave Lee, vice president of technology and innovation for Maritime Partners. “The development of Hydrogen One is part of that commitment.”

Lee said, now that the DBA is in place, the Maritime Partners team will begin submitting plans for review to the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Center.

“This is where the rubber starts hitting the road for any project, as the rule set we identified is now applied directly to the vessel and all the subsystems,” Lee said. “Again, we have decided to focus on the largest hurdles in front of the team, so we will be submitting the most novel system, what we believe will be the most difficult and time consuming first. These are also the items that will have the largest impact on a possible redesign for the vessel, so we feel it is important to have these nailed down before we start submitting the other systems.”

Once those plans are approved, construction can begin, but there’s still a lot of work to do prior to that, Lee said.

“It may seem like the project will be a bit quiet for a bit again, but once again, I can tell you that it is not due to lack of work,” Lee said. “The whole team, USCG included, are working very hard to make sure this 100 percent commercial project comes to life in the right way.”

Even though the project isn’t ready to cut steel or lay a keel, Lee said the development is encouraging and reflects the viability of the project.

“The work that we and the USCG have done together has shown that the USCG is behind new projects like this that greatly reduce the emission profile of traditional vessels,” Lee said. “We have and continue to receive inquiries on the vessel and the power system from here in the United States but also around the globe, so we believe that there is just a growing market in front of us.”

When the time comes to cut steel, Maritime Partners is eager to see Intracoastal Iron Works bring the project to reality, Lee said.

“I think it is no secret that IIW has been a partner of Maritime Partners for quite some time and that we have spoken about how quality of a product they deliver,” he said. “So with that, MP management has full confidence in the IIW team to deliver this groundbreaking towboat.”