Austal to Design Gotland’s High-Speed Hydrogen Catamaran Ferry

hydrogen high-speed catamaran
Gotland Horizon X would be a high-speed catamaran powered by hydrogen (Gotlandsbolaget)

Published Apr 5, 2023 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

Swedish passenger ferry company Gotlandsbolaget is preparing to take the next step with Austral in the development and construction of a high-speed catamaran that will operate on hydrogen or other green alternative fuels. The companies signed a letter of intent for the design of the catamaran passenger vessel following previous conceptional efforts. 

The Gotland company, which operates passenger service with a current generation of Chinese-built Ro-Ros, previously announced its plans for its Horizon series with the principal element being for the vessels to be powered by fossil-free hydrogen which would emit only water vapor during operations. The ferry company has said its goal is for the traffic to Gotland to be climate neutral by 2045.

"This is an important step in our climate journey. We are working on developing the ships of the future, and in 2022 presented the second ship concept in our Horizon series, Gotland Horizon X. It is a fast-moving catamaran that will be able to run on fossil-free fuels, and which we believe will be an excellent complement to the Gotland traffic," says Håkan Johansson, CEO.


Horizon X would travel at 35 knots (Gotlandsbolaget)


The concept for the Gotland Hydrocat, which is now called Gotland Horizon X, is for a fast-moving catamaran outfitted with a multi-fuel gas turbine power plant that would operate on hydrogen or comparable green alternative fuels. The vessel will be approximately 426 feet in length and able to travel at 35 knots. It would be able to carry up to 1,650 passengers and have space for 450 passenger cars. The high speed would permit the vessel to make the trip between the Swedish mainland and Gotland, a popular tourist destination, in under three hours. 

"The ship's design is based on Gotland's and our passengers' needs to be able to travel with a short crossing time and at competitive prices, without negatively impacting the climate or the environment. In order to minimize the energy requirement and obtain a high degree of efficiency, we develop energy-efficient hulls, minimize weight, optimize energy consumers on board, and streamlines operations and flows throughout the vessel. Austal is a leader in the development of large catamarans and they are an excellent partner to take Horizon X forward," said Christer Bruzelius, Gotland Tech Development.

The work to develop all the necessary technology is ongoing the company reports with a goal of placing a construction order for the Horizon X by 2025. The company plans to have either the Horizon X or a Ro-Pax ferry design, Horizon, in service by 2030.


Gotland is also developing the concept for a larger Ro-Pax hydrogen powered ferry (Gotlandsbolaget)


Gotlandsbolaget launched the concept for its Horizon series in 2021. The first vessel concept, Gotland Horizon is a larger passenger and cargo ship with a conventional hull and that would also be powered by hydrogen. It would have the capacity for 1,900 passengers and 600 cars. 

Currently, the service to Gotland is provided mostly with three Ro-Pax vessels with the company last week reporting it had sold a 2006-built vessel, HSC Gotlandia II, as part of its modernization efforts. The Visby and Gotland were delivered in 2019 and both vessels are equipped with dual-fuel engines and can be powered by liquid natural gas, liquid biogas, or diesel. The third vessel is the Drotten, a conventionally fueled Ro-Ro passenger ferry built in 2003.