The fourth electric ferry to cross the North Sea Canal (NZK) – the "NZK Ferry 103" – was christened on Thursday, 12 May 2022. Inge Keur, Commercial Director of the GVB (Amsterdam's municipal public transport operator), performed the christening ceremony. The christening took place in Hardinxveld Giessendam at Holland Shipyards Group (HSG), where the ferry was built. The new "plug-in ferries" will replace all diesel ferries on the North Sea Canal by 2023. HSG Director Marco Hoogendoorn thinks it is essential for the Netherlands to take the initiative to make the shipping industry more sustainable.
Inge Keur, who had the pleasure of christening the ferry, expressed her great honour of being part of a historical revolution in the shipping industry. 'Ninety years ago, most of the ferries started as steam ferries and – like the Titanic – coal was burned to operate the ferries. The first major change was the installation of a diesel engine. Now that there are almost no icebergs left to sail against, it is crucial for us and others to switch to electric vessels to slow down climate change. GVB wants people who travel by public transport to be reassured that they are no longer doing so at the planet's expense. That already applied to subways and trams; by 2025, it will apply to all buses and next year, it applies to the North Sea Canal ferries.'
Marco Hoogendoorn, Director of Holland Shipyards Group, is equally proud. The "NZK 103" was designed and built in the Netherlands. 'The Netherlands, as a maritime country and having outstanding engineers, should also want to lead the way in this respect. After all, if we are ahead, everyone will knock on our door first.' Shipping is perhaps the most challenging form of transport to make sustainable due to the long investment periods, long distances and competition. 'Without stimulation from the government, the shipowners will not make that move on their own,' says Hoogendoorn. 'We are therefore pleased that Amsterdam, together with GVB, is setting the right example.' Ferries are ideally suited to run on batteries due to the relatively short distances they travel on the same route. Hoogendoorn: 'Where the distances are longer, the change is a tough technical nut to crack. We are working on projects in inland shipping to equip existing vessels with a mini hydrogen power plant.'