New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday that the Niagara Falls tour operator, Maid of the Mist Corp., is preparing to launch the first two new all-electric, zero-emission passenger vessels constructed in the U.S.
According to a statement published on the official website of the New York State, once launched in mid-September, the catamaran-style vessels will take tourists to the heart of the Niagara Falls, "undisturbed by engine noise or exhaust fumes".
Each of the vessels will be powered by a pair of battery packs with a total capacity of 316 kilowatt-hours, split evenly between two catamaran hulls. Batteries will be recharged for seven minutes after each trip to 80 percent capacity, allowing for maximum efficiency and battery life.
"[The Swiss-Swedish] ABB, a pioneering technology leader in digital industries, will supply a comprehensive integrated power and propulsion solution for the new-build vessels, including lithium-ion battery packs and an onshore charging system, enabling sustainable operation with maximum reliability," the statement added.
Designed by Propulsion Data Systems, the new totally integrated vessels are currently under construction by Burger Boat Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
In mid-May, the modules will be transported to Niagara Falls and lowered onto the Maid of the Mist dry dock and maintenance facility for assembly. Following completion of construction, launch and certification, the new vessels will be placed into service in mid-September.
"Maid of the Mist tours of the world-famous Niagara Falls waterfalls and of the Niagara River Gorge are a signature tourism attraction of Western New York," said Governor Cuomo. "The new zero-emission boats will continue that proud tradition, while enhancing our efforts to make New York State a premier environmentally friendly tourism destination."
Maid of the Mist President Christopher M. Glynn added that it "makes perfect sense" for Maid of the Mist to be a world leader with the implementation of this green technology.
"The new vessels will carry our guests to the base of Niagara Falls, one of the world's largest sources of clean hydroelectric power," he said.
Maid of the Mist VI (1990) and Maid of the Mist VII (1997) will be removed from service when the new vessels begin operating.
Maid of the Mist is one of North America's oldest and most iconic tourist attractions, having made its maiden voyage in 1846. Tours start in mid- or late April depending on ice conditions and continue through the first week of November.
A trip lasts twenty minutes and there are departures every 15 minutes during the day, with more than 1.6 million guests on board each season.
By Hale Turkes