Vessev rolls out electric hydrofoiling vessel

New Zealand-based sustainable marine technology company Vessev has unveiled VS-9, an electric hydrofoiling vessel expected to unlock new opportunities in marine passenger transport.

Courtesy of Vessev

Designed and built by Vessev (formerly Seachange) the VS-9 is currently undergoing sea trials out of Auckland, New Zealand. The VS-9 entered the water for the first time earlier this month at Auckland’s Westhaven Marina.

Following testing, the first unit will be certified by Maritime New Zealand. It is expected to become the first vessel of its kind in the world certified for commercial use, Vessev said.

The vessel will be entering commercial operation with Fullers360, New Zealand’s largest ferry operator, thereafter.

NetZero Maritime, Fullers360’s specialist maritime green technology and innovation team, has played a pivotal role in the adoption of this new type of vessel, according to the company.

The nine-meter VS-9 will transport up to ten passengers at a service speed of 25 knots providing an experience that is more like flying than sailing. The VS-9 has a range of 50 nautical miles (57 miles/92.6km) thanks to efficient hydrofoiling technology.

“We are in the earliest stage of a global transition to sustainable energy use. Our partnership with NetZero Maritime is one of the most powerful in the world in accelerating the adoption of new technologies. There are 33 million vessels in the world today with sustainable vessels representing the smallest fraction. Through significant enhancements in efficiency, hydrofoiling will play a key role in this once-in-a-generation shift,” Eric Laakmann, Vessev CEO, commented.

“Traditionally, larger vessels are required to deliver a comfortable passenger experience as they can handle the impact of waves and wake. By flying above the waves the VS-9 delivers a large vessel experience on an agile platform that can be berthed and charged in nearly any marina. The development and commercialization of the VS—9 unlocks entirely new possibilities on the water enabling a shift toward more efficient, more reliable and more comfortable marine transport.”

“The VS—9 will enable thousands of new routes around the world that are currently impractical for traditional vessel. The costs of maintaining and fueling commercial fossil fuel vessels is quite substantial. We expect that in almost any commercial application, the lifetime cost of ownership of these vessels will be substantially less than comparable fossil fuel vessels. That is not including any additional revenue for operators which may come from operating vessels that deliver the best possible passenger experiences,” he added.

Laakmann further said that the company is working to develop the VS-18, A 100-passenger vessel using the same technology and design.

Spacifically, the VS-9 features ultra-high authority hydrofoil systems, where the foils change shape using high precision flaps under the water to optimize efficiency. This enables the VS-9 to handle adverse weather and provide far better seakeeping than other technologies.

Vessev’s technology is said to reduce energy consumption by up to 95%, facilitating a range of up to 50 nautical miles at a service speed of 25 knots and significantly reduced operational costs.

The first two weeks of sea trials showed that the energy efficiencies deliver much faster charging, more range and energy cost savings, according to the company.

“To put it into perspective, the VS—9 is undergoing on-water testing with a petrol-powered chase boat following, doing the same motions and distance. At the end of each day, the cost of the petrol fueling the chase boat is 25 times the cost of the electricity used to charge the VS—9,” Laakmann explained.

“It’s our intention for Fullers360 to be 100% electric or hydrogen operated by 2040 and foiling is absolutely a part of that vision for us. The establishment of NetZero Maritime has enabled us to dedicate a team to enabling zero emissions projects with the VS—9 being the first fully electric passenger vessel to operate in Auckland,” Mike Horne, Fullers360 CEO, pointed out.

“Our objective is to break down the barriers to adopting electric vessels. From the outset, our goal was to design a commercial electric vessel that can use the charging capacity already available in many marinas to run serious commercial businesses. Through a combination of size and efficiency, we have succeeded with the VS—9. During sea-trials we have been running up to three test sessions a day using a standard AC 3-phase connection. We think that operators and tourism businesses around the world will see the benefit in that,” Laakmann concluded.