In December of 2010, we posted about a new vessel under construction at Derecktor Shipyards for Hornblower New York. It was to be a hybrid excursion boat powered by diesel engines, as well as by solar and wind power and by hydrogen fuel cells. The new Hornblower Hybrid has arrived in New York harbor. It has actually been here since October, completing trial and Coast Guard certification. I happened to see it at the dock at Liberty Landing a couple of weeks ago and Hornblower’s Cameron Clark was kind enough to show me around.
Other than the name Hornblower Hybrid on the bow there is little, at first glance, that suggests anything unusual about the vessel. She appears to be what she is, a gleaming white, brand new, 170 feet long, multipurpose excursion boat with considerable expanses of blue tinted glass to provide panoramic views for her passengers. The first hint of her hybrid power plant is a vertical wind turbine on the bridge deck. Not quite so obvious are the solar panels which are also on the bridge deck. In addition to power from solar cells and the wind turbine, the Hybrid takes power from a hydrogen fuel cell. Like a hybrid car, the vessel also has banks of batteries from which it can draw power under low load conditions. The Hybrid is also designed to be able to shift rapidly to shore power when alongside the dock to prevent emissions while idling.
This is the second hybrid vessel operated by Hornblower. The first was a conversion in 2008 of an existing 64′ boat operating in San Francisco Bay. In the last three and a half years of operation, the hybrid vessel has been able to achieve savings of 38% over its previous fuel consumption. A significant percentage of these savings are from installing more efficient diesel engines, yielding savings above and beyond that provided by the wind turbines and solar cells. Clark said that they would be very happy with savings of 20-25% on the new Hornblower Hybrid.
Beyond its cutting-edge power plant, the Hornblower Hybrid designed and built to be environmentally efficient from the keel up. The boat features the use of recycled and reclaimed materials, LEED-certified carpet and energy-efficient LED lighting.