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DeJong and Lebet, Inc., assisted Hornblower's in-house design / engineering team on the conversion of this vessel from an offshore whalewatcher to a hybrid-propullsion ferry vessel. Our part included weight and stability analysis, advising on and facilitating USCG approval of the complicated electrical system and various other USCG certification issues. 

An article about the vessel was in the April 2009 issue of Workboat MagazineClick here to download a copy of it.

From Hornblower's press release on the vessel,


Hornblower Hybrid is Model of Alternative Energy Innovation

San Francisco – A boat unlike any ever seen will soon have a permanent home in the San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz Cruises, the National Park Service concessioner of ferry service to Alcatraz Island introduced the Hornblower Hybrid, the first multi‐hulled hybrid passenger vessel in the United States.

The Hornblower Hybrid is a model of the potential power of alternative energies and creative engineering solutions. The Hornblower Hybrid is a platform from which the general public will realize first‐hand knowledge of the capabilities of solar power, wind power and other hybrid technological advancements.

“The Hornblower Hybrid is not only the next step in Alcatraz Cruises’goal of becoming the greenest concessioner in the National Park Service; with this vessel we hope to become a model of environmental innovation for the city of San Francisco and state of California,”said Terry MacRae, CEO of Alcatraz Cruises and Hornblower Cruises & Events.

The Hornblower Hybrid uses power generated by two ten‐foot‐tall wind turbines and a photovoltaic solar array covering the awning on the top deck. That power is converted and stored in battery banks that then power the navigation tools, lighting and other electronics on board the vessel. Excess power is stored in the main propulsion battery banks.

In addition to solar panels and wind turbines, the Hornblower Hybrid also has Tier 2 marine diesel engines. These cleaner, fuel‐efficient engines reduce the amount of diesel fuel used, emissions and overall carbon footprint. The customized drive system allows thecaptain to monitor the energy needs of the vessel and select the most efficient power sources. For example, when the boat is idle at the dock the engines will shut off and the motors will run off of energy stored in the battery banks.

The vessel also contains a number of other environmentally friendly materials. The carpeting contains post consumer recycled materials, is recyclable and meets the US Green Building Council LEED criteria for recycled content. A significant portion of the interiorsignage is printed on Plyboo, a composite material made from sustainable sources and containing no harmful chemicals. The countertops throughout the vessel are made from pieces of recycled vodka bottles. The lighting throughout the vessel is LED, which requires a fraction of the energy of standard bulbs and provide an equal or greater amount of illumination.

The vessel will provide educational opportunities through signage and interactive displays. Starting in early 2009 school classes and other groups can experience an educational ride aboard the Hybrid by writing in to explaining why their class or group would like to participate in this unique opportunity. It will be a multipurpose vessel within the Alcatraz Cruises fleet, ferrying visitors to Alcatraz Island and Angel Island, as well as taking school groups and other passengers on cruises around the Bay. The vessel will also be available for private events. Information on chartering the vessel is available at

The Hornblower Hybrid is a 64‐foot long catamaran, with a fully enclosed main deck, and covered roof deck. The vessel, which was previously a commercial diving boat, has undergone a retrofit, repower and refurbishment over the last several months in a shipyard in Sausalito. This vessel was designed and created in house and no grant or public money was used.

Alcatraz Cruises considered several different designs before selecting this particular system. Of greatest importance was the need to build a system that maximized the weather patterns in the San Francisco Bay. While there are other hybrid vessel systems in othercountries, this system was customized to maximize the potential alternative energy sources in San Francisco Bay. This vessel system has also been designed to be modified as technologies are improved or refined.

As part of the contract with the National Park Service, Alcatraz Cruises is required to provide another hybrid vessel in the next three years. That vessel will use a similar system, but one that reflects the lessons that will be learned while this one is in operations. Alcatraz Cruises’fleet already contains two of the greenest diesel‐powered ferryboats on the Bay. Alcatraz Clipper and Alcatraz Flyer were recently repowered with the most fuelefficient Tier 2 Marine engines available and use selective catalytic reduction units. This same technology will be used on two new commuter ferryboats in the Bay Area, scheduled to be in use in 2009.

Alcatraz Cruises offers daily round trips to Alcatraz Island as the concessioner of ferry service for the National Park Service. The contract for this service began in September2006. Alcatraz Landing, the departure and return location, is located at Pier 33 on the Embarcadero, between Bay and Chestnut streets. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 415‐981‐ROCK (7625).

The initial wind turbines were replaced with a pair built by HelixWind.

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