Fully-electric ferry completes inaugural round trip

Written by Nick Blenkey
Fully-electric ferry on water

Fully-electric ferry Ika Rere recently completed its inaugural round trip [Image: © Stellar Studio]

The first fully-electric, high-speed passenger ferry in the southern hemisphere last month completed its inaugural round trip for New Zealand’s East by West Ferries.

The 19 meter long ferry, the Ika Rere, can carry up to 132 passengers on routes across Wellington Harbor at an operational speed of 20 knots. It has been designed and built to complete one return run of 25 kilometers before charging dockside at a rate of 1 megawatt for 15 minutes while passengers disembark and board.

As we reported earlier, Ika Rere is powered by a Danfoss’ Editron drivetrain system consisting of two propulsion motors, two grid solutions for the AC network and six DC/DC converters connected to the vessel’s batteries.

The vessel features a Thordon seawater lubricated propeller shaft arrangement supplied by New Zealand’s Henley Engineering.


Commenting on the ferry’s first trip, between West Queen’s Wharf and Days Bay, Henley Engineering managing director, Mark Power, said: “Ika Rere runs like a Tesla Model S! It’s fast, efficient, smooth and quiet. It is a truly inspiring vessel. We hope to be involved in more projects like this.”

Auckland based Henley Group—Thordon’s authorized distributor for New Zealand—designed and supplied the vessel’s driveshafts aft of the twin 325 kW battery-powered electric motors.

The scope of supply included a pair of Thordon SXL seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearings installed in Easiflow GRP sterntubes; shaft seals with Thordon XL oil/grease-free guide bushes; shaft lines and propeller; couplings, mounts, thrust bearings and brakes.

“While the quiet hum of an electric boat is a much more pleasurable experience for passengers, this project was driven by our desire to take climate action,” said East by West Managing Director Jeremy Ward. “A Thordon Bearings’ zero pollution package was the perfect fit for this eco vessel. A smooth, quiet and water lubricated driveline was an essential environmental requirement.”

The Ika Rere is the first vessel delivered by the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company (WEBBCo), a joint venture between the ferry operator and established boatbuilder Fraser Foote.

“The ferry is very quiet at 19 knots and silent at 10 knots,” said WEBBCo managing director Fraser Foote. “It is faster and uses less energy than we anticipated. Ika Rere is a hugely successful project for us. We are the first in the southern hemisphere to have taken a vessel of this kind off the drawing board and onto the water.”

“We are thrilled to help drive the electric ship and other alternative means of propulsion forward,” said Thordon Bearings’ Technical Director Tony Hamilton. “The pioneering work into self-lubricating polymer materials we started in the 1970s has resulted in the portfolio of environmentally safe products we see today. We were ahead of the game then and we’re still ahead of the game now. All our products are designed to reduce the maritime industry’s impact on the environment.”

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