First Hydrogen-Fueled Vessel in the US Receives US Coast Guard Approval to Enter Commercial Service


SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SWITCH Maritime, a leading developer of zero-emission maritime vessels, was presented with the signed Certificate of Inspection (“COI”) by Captain Taylor Q. Lam, the US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander and Captain of the Port, for its flagship hydrogen ferry, the Sea Change. The ceremony took place last Friday afternoon onboard the bow of the vessel, along with several members of the US Coast Guard and other project stakeholders.

“This COI represents the culmination of years of close collaboration with the US Coast Guard and a significant milestone for the maritime industry, demonstrating the viability of carbon-neutral vessels. We are immensely grateful for the support from the US Coast Guard and all our partners along the path to completion,” said Pace Ralli, CEO of SWITCH. “This is not the finish line, but just a starting point from which to build many more.”

With the COI, the vessel is now able to commence commercial operation for zero-emission public ferry service. The Sea Change uses hydrogen fuel cells to power all-electric motors for transit distances up to 300 nautical miles and speeds up to 15 knots. The rapidly-evolving technology provides similar operational capabilities and ranges to diesel-powered vessels, and eliminates the need for shoreside charging infrastructure required by battery-only vessels.

Following a formal launch event in June, the Sea Change will be operated in a six-month pilot service by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (“WETA”), thanks to a public-private sponsorship that includes: United; the Golden State Warriors; California Air Resources Board; Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District; and Blue & Gold Fleet. After the initial demonstration period, SWITCH will put the vessel into a more permanent ferry route. Alongside the Sea Change, SWITCH is actively advancing new designs for larger and faster ferries for SF Bay, and other major ferry markets in the US and internationally.

SWITCH aims to accelerate the adoption of net-zero vessels by bearing the regulatory and construction risks for the operators, and offering existing operators the ability to lease the new vessels after completion – a form of the ‘hardware-as-a-service’ model increasingly being utilized to accelerate the energy transition of hard to abate industrial sectors. The SWITCH solutions are flexible and tailored for vessel operators needing to comply with emissions regulations, providing a streamlined path to achieving a carbon-neutral fleet over time.

About the Sea Change project

Built and launched at All American Marine shipyard in Bellingham, Washington, the Sea Change is a 75-passenger catamaran ferry featuring an integrated hydrogen power system from Zero Emission Industries (, with 360kW of fuel cells from Cummins and 600kW of electric motor propulsion from BAE Systems.

The project is also partially funded by a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”), administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (”BAAQMD”), that comes from the California Climate Investments initiative, a California statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Additionally, the project received the first-ever loan guarantee under BAAQMD’s Climate Tech Finance program, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases by accelerating emerging climate technologies, in partnership with the California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank and the Northern California Financial Development Corporation (“NorCal FDC”). With this loan guarantee, SWITCH secured a $5 million commercial financing from KeyBank, and later raised equity funds from Nexus Development Capital to bring this important project to completion.

— SWITCH Maritime —

SWITCH develops, finances, builds and leases zero-emission maritime vessels to existing operators in the US and internationally. More information can be found at


SWITCH Maritime