SOURCE: Alcatraz Cruises

December 16, 2008 14:43 ET

Alcatraz Cruises Launches Nation's First Hybrid Ferry Boat

Hornblower Hybrid Is Model of Alternative Energy Innovation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - December 16, 2008) - Representatives from the National Park Service, Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, NOAA and Save the Bay were among the 85 people to enjoy a breakfast gathering aboard the nation's first known hybrid ferryboat.

On Friday morning, December 12, at Pier 33 in San Francisco, Alcatraz Cruises, the National Park Service concessioner of ferry service to Alcatraz Island introduced the Hornblower Hybrid, a wind, solar and diesel powered hybrid vessel.

Alcatraz Cruises CEO Terry MacRae welcomed guests aboard and thanked many people for their support during the planning, design and construction of the vessel. He also noted that the innovation will continue as another hybrid vessel is being planned for San Francisco, as well as one the company's New York-based Statue Cruises, the National Park Service concessioner of ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Brian O'Neill, Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Parks welcomed guests aboard the Hybrid saying, "Alcatraz Cruises has demonstrated a sincere commitment to the environment by creating the Hornblower Hybrid. Alcatraz Cruises has fostered a successful partnership, making them one of the best concessioners I've have the privilege of working with."

"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, the state of California and the United States," said Scott Thornton, Vice President of Operations and General Manager of Alcatraz Cruises and Hornblower Cruises & Events.

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 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 the captain 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 interior signage is printed on Plyboo, a composite material made from sustainable sources and containing no harmful chemicals. The countertops throughout the vessel are made by Vetrazzo 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.

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 Bayside Boatworks in Sausalito, CA. This vessel was designed and created in house and no grant or public money was used.

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 fuel-efficient 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 September 2006. 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).

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