US ferry operator Casco Bay Lines has booked a hybrid-electric ferry at a compatriot shipyard that its designer said will lead to carbon pollution cuts.

The Portland, Maine-based company booked the 50-metre ropax vessel at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) said.

The ship will replace the 88-gt Machigonne II (built 1987), leading to a reduction of 800 US tons of CO2 (725 metric tonnes) per year on the route plied by the diesel-powered vessel, EBDG said.

The ship will use ABB Marine & Ports hybrid propulsion system allowing the use of either diesel-electric or zero-emissions battery modes, or a combination of the two.

ABB will also provide a shore charging system at Portland.

EBDG said its work for Casco Bay included a propulsion selection study that explored capital cost, operating cost, air emissions and other factors. Even noise was considered.

“With the ferry operating in zero-emission mode, the passengers will benefit from a smoother, quieter and cleaner ride,” the designer said.

In addition to the greenhouse gas reductions, the vessel will also help meet rising passenger demand on the route.

The Machigonne II carries up to 399 passengers and 12 vehicles between Portland and Peaks Island, Maine. The new ferry will carry 15 vehicles and up to 599 passengers across three decks, including a sun deck that has unobstructed views.

The newbuilding will also have a double-ended configuration, which reduces energy consumption and speed requirements by preventing the need for the ferry to turn around.

The new ferry is expected to enter service in 2024. A price tag for the vessel was not released.

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