Electric hydrojet retrofit for Italian scenic ferry

The Volaviamare Group, which operates tourist ferries in the Gulf of Naples, is having a Deepspeed electric hydrojet retrofit to the 160 passenger ‘Calypso’ vessel that carries visitors to and from the scenic islands of Ischia and Procida.

The ferry company has signed an agreement with Sealence, manufacturer of the DeepSpeed electric jets, for a system with two of the innovtive motors. Each has ratings of 300kW peak and 200kW continuous power (400hp and 275hp).

cutaway diagram of electric hydrojet refit on large boatMuch of the focus for the DeepSpeed electric hydrojets has been on speedboats and recreational runabouts like the Scanner Marine Envy 710 RIB, but the company has always envisioned them as being advantageous for large commercial ships also. The Calypso is 24 metres long (80 ft), weighs 25 tonnes and is currently powered by two diesel motors and carries 3,000 litres (7,900 gallons) of fossil fuel.

The retrofitting will enable the ferry to sail completely electric for about 6 hours a day at a cruising speed of 18 knots (33 km/h). Sealance engineers are now optimizing the motors for the load of the ferry, with the first retrofit activities scheduled to start in early 2022 followed by sea trials and full service in 2023.

The Calypso’s new electric hydrojet retrofit will carry tourists the 23km (15 mi) from Naples to the popular and historic islands of Procida and Ischia. Procida was named the Italian Capital of Culture for 2022 and was selected by National Geographic as ‘one of the world’s 25 amazing journeys‘.

History of innovation

The Volaviamare company and its Alilauro fleet have been taking visitors to beautiful sites in the Golfo Napoli since 1944, when Agostino Lauro purchase the aging ‘La Freccia del Golfo’ (the Arrow of the Gulf) and plied the route from Ischia to Capri. It seems the hull and engines left a little bit to be desired and at times Don Agostino had to distract passengers by telling jokes or pointing out hard to spot details on the island landscapes.

This entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance led to the purchase of more boats as times improved after WWII. When the world was looking for faster forms of transportation in the 1960s Lauro bought the first three hydrofoils – ‘ships with wings’ – to the gulf, introducing the age of speed boats in the Gulf.

He turned over the management of the new technology to his then 19 year-old-son, Salvatore Lauro, who is now the president of the company and still a visionary. While this is the first retrofit project with the DeepSpeed electric motors, the company has been converting other, larger vessels like the 400 passenger Celestina to hybrid diesel electric systems.

“We are proud to have reduced emissions already with these retrofits and proud once again to be among the pioneers of a small revolution” said Lauro. “We look forward to leading the way to a future of navigation in the Gulf of Naples which will be fully eco-sustainable.”

William Gobbo, CEO and founder of of SealenceWilliam Gobbo, Founder and CEO of Sealence, said this is a prestigious collaboration with a historic shipowner. “Our visions coincide. We are both oriented towards a more sustainable and comfortable navigation without noise, vibrations and emissions of pollutants into the air and water. It is a great step to have the Volaviamare Group join us. As our mission says: “water will be the only footprint we will leave “

Applications open for free electric hydrojet retrofit

In an innovative program, Sealence is offering a free loan of an electric hydrojet retrofit for vessels of between 12m and 24m (40 – 80 feet) that are in new or ‘like new’ condition and have a  load capacity of more than 1000 kg (2,200 pounds). After installation the system will be monitored in sea trials and real life usage and the boat owner has the option to purchase the powertrain through an exclusive discount. For complete details, interested vessel owners should visit the Beta Tester page on the DeepSpeed website.

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