ABS greenlights ‘world’s first’ hydrogen-hybrid coastal-class research vessel

Naval architecture and marine engineering company Glosten has received approval in principle (AiP) from classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for the design of UC San Diego’s hydrogen-hybrid coastal-class research vessel (CCRV).

Courtesy of Glosten

Set to become the world’s first hydrogen-hybrid CCRV, the vessel will be operated Scripps Institution of Oceanography and feature a propulsion system that utilizes hydrogen fuel cells for zero-emissions operation.

As disclosed, Glosten and the project’s electrical integrator, Siemens Energy (SE), completed the preliminary design for the CCRV in March 2024. Before submitting the design for AiP, Glosten completed a week-long risk assessment workshop with the USCG, ABS, Scripps, Sandia, SE, and major equipment providers, Ballard Power Systems and Chart Industries.

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The approval shows that the CCRV design meets ABS’s technical requirements and safety standards. It also validates the use of hydrogen-fuel-cell propulsion for medium-sized coastal vessels.

Once operational, the CCRV is expected to help Scripps and its researchers study the marine ecosystem along the California coast, running entirely on emissions-free hydrogen fuel cells for 75% of its missions.

The vessel will also serve as a platform for hands-on learning and integral to training the next generation of scientists, leaders, and policymakers, Glosten said.

With AiP in place, the project team is now progressing the CCRV to a functional-level design and assisting Scripps with a request for a proposal to begin solicitation for construction.

“Our challenge was to harmonize the requirements of a modern research vessel with evolving regulations and novel technologies for liquid hydrogen fuel. Ensuring the machinery spaces and hydrogen systems were efficiently and safely arranged without compromising the utility of the vessel was like putting together an intricate puzzle,” Glosten’s Robin Madsen, the lead marine engineer on the project, commented.

To remind, Glosten was selected by UC San Diego to design a new coastal research vessel with a hydrogen-hybrid propulsion system in 2022.

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