FERRIES 2022: EBDG naval architect to present on “green” passenger/vehicle ferry concept

Written by Heather Ervin
Chris Biernat of Elliott Bay Design Group

Chris Biernat, naval architect with Elliott Bay Design Group will present at FERRIES 2022 in San Francisco.

Next month at Marine Log’s FERRIES 2022 conference—taking place November 1-2 in San Francisco—one of Elliott Bay Design Group’s (EBDG) naval architects, Chris Biernat, will present on a conceptual passenger/vehicle ferry for ultra-low emission operations. The ferry will be designed for ocean and coastwise service to show the capability and capacity for extended duration operations using alternative fuel technologies.

The ferry concept is compliant with IMO 2030 regulations and supports long-term environmental goals. Biernat will address consideration for U.S. Coast Guard domestic service regulatory framework, as well as the benefits and design implications of natural gas, methanol and ammonia as fuel will be compared.

Design considerations to utilize these new fuels include retrofitting existing vessels to accommodate ammonia tanks and specialty machinery, evaluating new designs to ensure they are capable to receive ammonia ready notation, and solutions to guide future operators through the selection of fuel options that best meet their needs.


Biernat joined EBDG in 2012 and currently serves as a professionally licensed naval architect. He supports a variety of vessel projects ranging in size and scope including concept and contract design, analysis and construction support with owner’s representation and shipyard oversight.

Biernat’s expertise includes hydrostatics and stability, ship structure, resistance and propulsion. He has been an integral part of EBDG’s alternative propulsion team, designing new and retrofitting existing fleets to hybrid propulsion and implementing new low-emissions fuel options. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in naval architecture from University of New Orleans and is an involved member of the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers (SNAME).


SWITCH Maritime’s landmark Sea Change hydrogen-powered ferry project got a lot of attention at Marine Log’s FERRIES 2021 held last November along the New York Harbor. This year, up to 75 attendees have the chance to ride on it. Guests are encouraged to register soon, as the tour will be on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Launched in August 2021 at All American Marine, the Sea Change is a 70-foot catamaran ferry designed by Incat Crowther, equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell system from Zero Emissions Industries (ZEI), which includes 360 kW of fuel cells from Cummins and 242 kg of hydrogen storage tanks from Hexagon Purus, and a 600 kW electric propulsion system from BAE Systems that includes 100 kWh of lithium-ion battery storage from XALT. The Hornblower Group led the construction management.

The 75-passenger ferry receives gaseous hydrogen into its 242 kg tanks on the upper deck. It uses that hydrogen in fuel cells producing electricity to power electric motors for distances up to 300 nautical miles, and speeds up to 20 knots—similar capabilities to diesel-powered vessels—with the added benefits of zero exhaust smoke or other emissions and very little vibration and noise.

The Sea Change project is managed and financed by SWITCH Maritime, an impact investment firm building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels for adoption by existing ship owners and operators. Sea Change was the first vessel in the larger zero-carbon ferry fleet that SWITCH planned to construct in 2022, in partnership with municipalities and shipowners aiming to transition to carbon-free vessels. In making the transition, they were able to leverage government grant funds related to transportation decarbonization activities targeted by the landmark U.S. infrastructure bill.


While it is expected that many more will sign on, FERRIES 2022 already has nearly 40 sponsors so far.

Platinum sponsors are ABB and Cummins. Gold sponsors include Glosten, Marine Jet Power, Moteurs Baudouin, SailPlan, Hanson Bridgett LLP, and Wärtsilä. Silver sponsors are All American Marine, Christie & Grey, Elkon, BMT, Elliott Bay Design Group, EMS Marcon, Helm Operations, HamiltonJet, Crowley, GL Power/Twin Disc, Karl Senner, Kongsberg, MTU – A Rolls-Royce Solution, NCP Coatings, Incat Crowther, RYPOS, Helm, W&O, and Thrustmaster. The event’s bronze sponsors so far include C-Job Naval Architects, Conrad Shipyard, BAE Systems, Allied Marine Crane, TransFluid, MOPS, Rigidized Metals, RocketRez, Steerprop, The Shearer Group Inc., United Safety & Survivability Corporation/Fireboy, Thrive Payments, and VenTek International. Siemens Energy is sponsoring the lunch on Day 1.

Registration for the event is open.

For questions on sponsorships, please contact David Harkey at dharkey@sbpub.com.

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