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The Sea Change: The World’s First Commercial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel

The Sea Change

The Sea Change: The World’s First Commercial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel

The Sea Change: The World’s First Commercial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel 726 1043 ZEI Team

Project Summary

The Sea Change (a.k.a. Water-Go-Round) is the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US and the first commercial fuel cell ferry in the world. It serves as proof that hydrogen fuel cells can be successfully utilized on commercial marine vessels and represents a global paradigm shift for the maritime industry.

The vessel is designed to carry 84 passengers at a top speed of 22 knots, with minimal noise and vibration, and emitting nothing but warm water vapor and water pure enough that the passengers onboard could drink it.


In 2018, Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (Now Zero Emission Industries) was founded to provide commercial hydrogen fuel cell power systems to the marine market. The small team quickly gathered key industry partners and won a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board to build the first hydrogen fuel cell passenger ferry in the United States.

While under construction the Water-Go-Round was gaining massive attention throughout the maritime community, and as vessel owners’ knowledge of fuel cell technology grew, so too did their interest in owning a zero emission fuel cell powered vessel. GGZEM received inquiries regarding the development of hydrogen systems for vessel owners from all over the world. Among these inquiries were Switch Maritime, a low- and zero-emission vessel owner out of the East Coast of the United States, that was interested in purchasing the Water-Go-Round.

With an opportunity to pre-sell the Water-Go-Round and achieve a goal of proving the commercial demand for fuel cells in maritime GGZEM couldn’t be more excited. In the 2nd Quarter of 2019, Switch Maritime purchased and renamed GGZEM’s hydrogen fuel cell ferry to The Sea Change, marking the first time in history that a hydrogen powered vessel was purchased and designated for commercial use, validating the technology and GGZEM’s business proposition at the same time.

The Sea Change provided the proof that zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell technology works for commercial marine vessels while signifying another important milestone: a shared belief in a “show not tell” philosophy that continues to be a core characteristic of the company today.

Technical Specifications

360kw of H2 Fuel Cells
H2 tank array (242 kg, 250 bar, up to 2 full days operation)
2x 300 kW (400 hp) shaft motors
100 kWh Li-Ion batteries

On-Board Technology

ZEI Maritime Hydrogen Power System (V0)
ZEI Hydrogen Fueling Interface (V0)