The San Francisco Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s (WETA) rapid electric emissions-free ferries (REEF) programme has set target dates to begin construction of its first zero-emissions ferry as well as the start of commercial operations as part of a phased plan to overhaul its fleet with five new ferries.

WETA relayed the news as part of a strategic partnership deal with Finish maritime technology group Wärtsilä, which will lend its expertise on fleet electrification and systems integration to the REEF project.

In early 2021, WETA launched a study intended to create a foundation for its plan to replace San Francisco Bay’s ferry fleet with new zero-emissions vessels. The municipal study finalised its ’Blueprint for Zero Emission Vessel Transition’ in early 2023, determining a new fleet would need electric propulsion systems and electric charging infrastructure. 

With the REEF project’s conceptual phase nearing completion, WETA said it will soon begin the project’s vessel construction phase.

The REEF project foresees building three 150-passenger ferries and two larger ferries capable of carrying 300 or more passengers. The project is also planning to build floating battery charging units.

“The construction of the first electric-powered vessel is slated to commence before the conclusion of 2023, with commercial operations expected to launch in 2025,” a statement from new REEF strategic partner Wärtsilä said.

“We’re proud to operate the cleanest high-speed ferry fleet in the nation, but a zero-emissions future for our system is within reach,” WETA executive director Seamus Murphy said. “Wärtsilä’s expertise and experience will be incredibly valuable given the complexity our ferry decarbonisation programme entails.”

Wärtsilä said the strategic partnership project around the REEF project was one of “several” the company would carry out work on under the umbrella agreement with WETA.

On its LinkedIn social media page, WETA confirmed it is working with Wärtsilä “and additional partners”, with “more news on this front soon”.

WETA’s website says its long-range development plan calls for new terminals in the Treasure Island, Mission Bay, Berkeley, Redwood City and South Bay areas of San Francisco, as well as in the Carquinez Strait, with an initial plan to shift 50% of its municipal vessel fleet to zero emissions by 2035.

According to Source of photos: internet