Reederei Norden-Frisia has ordered an electric ferry with Damen Shipyards. The route that the ferry will operate required Damen to develop a completely new vessel – the Damen Fast Fery (FFE) 3209 – known as the E-Cat Ferry.

Norden-Frisia wants a fully electric ferry capable of transporting 150 passengers at a time from Norddeich to the island of Norderney, quickly, cleanly and in optimal comfort. It will be the first fully electric seagoing vessel to sail under German flag. In addition to the ferry, Damen will also supply the charging infrastructure and mooring solutions.

‘There are a number of factors about the route that make use of a standard vessel impossible,’ says Norden-Frisia Marine Superintendent Michael Garrelts. ‘For a start, the ferry must operate in very shallow water. In order to be able to provide a service seven times a day, the vessel’s maximum draught must be no more than 1.2 metres. It’s a challenge, but Damen managed to find a solution.’

‘Damen have really thought along with us,’ adds Garrelts. ‘For example, we initially wanted to integrate water jets to the vessel. ‘However, Damen pointed out that using fixed pitch propellers would offer greater efficiency.’

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Protecting world heritage

Additionally, the Wadden Sea, in which the Frisian islands are located, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. This imposes a number of strict criteria on vessels operating in the waters, one of which is a speed restriction to 16 knots.

Even with this restriction in place, the E-Cat Ferry cuts the transit time to Norderney in half – to just one hour. Charging, which takes place in just thirty minutes, can be done while passengers are embarking and disembarking.

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First milestone

Recently, the project has reached a significant milestone with tank testing in Duisburg. Garrelts: ‘It was a good step forward. The model performed as expected in the tank tests and now we’re looking forward the next stages, including the keel-laying in Poland.’

Once the hull has been constructed at Damen’s yard in Kozle, it will be transported to Damen Shipyards Gorinchem for outfitting. The vessel is scheduled for delivery to Norden-Frisia in May 2024.

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