January 31, 2008

Golden Gate Ferry Takes “Green” Strides

Over the past few years, there has been significant focus within the maritime industry, as well as in the state and federal regulatory arenas, on reducing ferry exhaust emissions. Golden Gate Ferry (GGF) participated in the development of the latest California Air Resources Control Board (CARB) emissions regulations for harbor craft that were adopted by CARB in December 2007.

The GGF fleet currently consists of five vessels: three high-capacity 715-passenger Spaulding class vessels (M.S. Sonoma, M.S. San Francisco, M.S. Marin) and two high-speed catamarans: the M.V. Del Norte with a passenger capacity of 390 and the M.V. Mendocino with a passenger capacity of 450.

Recent and planned engine replacements to reduce emission include:

  • The three Spaulding class vessels were placed into service between Larkspur and San Francisco in 1976. In 2001 and 2002, the engines in the Spaulding class vessels were all replaced with new, more modern and efficient diesel engines.
  • The two high-speed catamarans were added to the fleet in 1998 (M.V. Del Norte) and 2001 (M.V. Mendocino). In 2008, the engines of these vessels will be replaced with new cleaner "Tier 2" engines that meet current federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state CARB regulations.

GGF is in the process of purchasing a new a high-speed, 499-passenger-capacity catamaran that will be equipped with “Tier 2-20” engines that exceed current federal EPA and state CARB requirements. GGF will also be testing Biodesiel fuel (2 to 5% mixtures) in the new vessel once it is ready for service in approximately mid-2009. This vessel will be used as a replacement to the M.V Del Norte, which will go into rotation as a back-up vessel for the Larkspur service.

Once the engines are replaced on the existing catamarans and the new vessel is added to the fleet, there will be a 49 % reduction in emissions versus current vessels. The 49% emission reduction is based on assumption of high-speed vessel utilization as follows: new vessel 40%, M.V. Mendocino 40%, and M.V. Del Norte 20% (as it will go into rotation as a back-up vessel). This also assumes the re-powering of the M.V. Mendocino and M.V. Del Norte with “Tier 2” engines is completed.