Wärtsilä joins USA’s first zero-emission high-speed ferries project

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has signed a strategic partnership agreement to provide its fleet electrification and systems integrator services for a project to build the first zero-emission high-speed ferries in the USA.


The fully electric vessels will be built for San Francisco’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the operator of the San Francisco Bay Ferry system.

The project, and several others Wärtsilä will work on under this partnership, are a part of the agency’s Rapid Electric Emission-Free (REEF) Ferry Program, a phased decarbonisation of high-speed, high-capacity ferry service in the San Francisco Bay.

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Wärtsilä will work within the WETA project team to finalize vessel and charging system concepts.

“We’re proud to operate the cleanest high-speed ferry fleet in the nation, but a zero-emission future for our system is within reach,” said WETA Executive Director, Seamus Murphy.

“This is a major project within the maritime sector’s journey towards decarbonisation, and we are proud to be a part of it,” commented Hanno Schoonman, Director of sales for AMER region, Wärtsilä Marine Power.

After completing the conceptual phase, WETA will move on to the initial construction phase of a multi-vessel programme.

This phase will involve the building of three smaller ferries with a capacity of approximately 150 passengers each and two larger ferries capable of carrying at least 300 passengers. Additionally, the scope of this phase will encompass the inclusion of battery charging floats.

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.

To comply with new California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations, WETA is committed to accelerating zero-emission implementation ahead of and beyond regulatory requirements.