First battery ferry for Hamburg has water under its keel

Caption: Hadag

The commissioning of the new battery ferries for the port of Hamburg is approaching. The first ship in a series has now been launched in Tangermünde.

The first of three battery-powered newbuilds from the municipal shipping company Hadag – which operates a public transport service on the Elbe – was launched yesterday.

A specially minted coin was also revealed on which the keel was laid a few months ago. Martin Lobmeyer, Hadag’s Chief Technical Officer, said: “Another milestone has been reached for our new fleet member. The launch heralds the final phase of shipbuilding and we are very much looking forward to taking delivery of our first new addition in Hamburg in a few weeks’ time.”

Founded in 1888 as “Hafendampfschiffahrts-Actien-Gesellschaft”, Hadag is the provider of port ferry services in the Port of Hamburg and on the Elbe within the HVV transport association. On seven routes with 20 piers and an annual distance of more than 330,000 nm, Hadag operates 26 ships and more than 180,000 departures a year, 365 days a year. In the last 20 years, the number of passengers has more than tripled to around 10 million.

Hadag commissioned a total of three new ferries in the summer of 2022. All three ships are due to dock in Hamburg later this year. The ships are being built at SET in Tangermünde. Shipyard Managing Director Olaf Deter has now announced “work on the home straight”, including commissioning and testing.

Batteries to reduce emissions

Hadag wants to break new ground with the series. The aim is emission-free operation on the Elbe. The new ferries will already be equipped with batteries so that as much of the operation as possible can be carried out electrically. A diesel generator will initially be used as a range extender. Technically, the ships are being prepared for the use of hydrogen technology in order to be able to convert to fuel cells in the future. Approval for this has already been granted.

The propulsion concept was developed together with the ship designer Navalue from Flensburg. At around 33 m, the newbuilds will also be longer than the previous ferries and will each offer space for up to 250 passengers. The current Hadag fleet consists of 26 ships, each with space for 114 to 250 passengers in one-man operation.

The new type of ship will reportedly meet the requirements of the Hamburg cycle. The new vessels are intended to shorten the frequency on the busy line 62 from the current 15 to 10 minutes.

Martin Bill, State Councillor of the Ministry of Transport and Mobility Transition, said on the occasion of the launch: “With the launch of the first battery ship of the future Hadag fleet, we are now taking an important step towards even more climate protection in public transport.”

Before the new ferry sails to Hamburg, the next few weeks will see regular installation and leak testing of all relevant components, such as doors, hatches, windows and seating, as well as the filling, commissioning and functional verification of all systems (e.g. cooling water, batteries). In addition, the lateral inclination of a ship during a swell is tested in the so-called heeling test with a view to the ship’s stability.

Finally, the shipyard test voyage follows to check the newbuilding’s roadworthiness, as well as the safety acceptance (including fire protection, rescue equipment and escape routes).

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