ABB to provide hybrid-electric propulsion for new MaineDOT ferry connecting island community to mainland

  • ABB’s grid-to-propeller solutions to power the new hybrid-electric ferry connecting Lincolnville and the island of Islesboro in Maine, US
  • The island community of Islesboro relies on the ferry connection to access healthcare and other critical services on the mainland
  • ABB’s comprehensive solution will help reduce emissions in line with state objectives while maximizing vessel reliability and uptime

23 April 2024 – ABB has been selected by Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) to supply a comprehensive grid-to-propeller solution for the new double-ended, hybrid-electric ferry that will provide essential services between the town of Lincolnville and the island community of Islesboro in the United States.

MaineDOT double-ended hybrid-electric ferry rendering – Image credit Gilbert Associates Inc.

Due to replace an existing diesel-powered ferry, the new vessel will demonstrate the preference of publicly funded organizations in the US for the high reliability and lower emissions achievable using hybrid-electric seagoing technology. ABB’s scope of supply covers the hybrid-electric propulsion and energy storage system. ABB’s award-winning Onboard DC Grid™ power distribution system will ensure optimal use of energy sources, while ABB Ability™ Marine Remote Diagnostic System will enable the monitoring of onboard systems to maximize vessel uptime.

The 207-foot (62-meter) length newbuild vessel will transport up to 200 passengers and 40 vehicles between Lincolnville and Islesboro – around three nautical miles from the mainland. Islesboro is designated a ‘Medically Underserved Area’, where approximately 600 year-round residents rely on ferry connections to access healthcare and other critical services. The ferry project is funded primarily by the Federal Transit Administration under its Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program and Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, with the latter also funding the modernization of the ferry terminals to align with safety and efficiency requirements.

By replacing the 35-year-old Margaret Chase Smith, the new hybrid-electric vessel will cut fuel consumption by an estimated 100,000 gallons per year, equivalent to around 1,100 tons in CO2 emissions. The project contributes to the Maine Clean Transportation Roadmap, which targets carbon neutrality by 2045.

“The new hybrid-electric Lincolnville–Islesboro ferry will make a significant contribution to our efforts to decarbonize transportation in the state of Maine,” said Mackenzie Kersbergen P.E., Senior Project Manager, Multimodal Program – Maine Department of Transportation. “ABB has been a great partner to us throughout the design process and we look forward to seeing their system in action. Given the critical need for vessel reliability and uptime on this route, ABB’s service footprint and digital monitoring capabilities set them apart from the competition in our search for a systems integrator.”

“Amid an urgent and growing need to decarbonize ferry operations, ABB’s integrated electric, automated and digital solutions are increasingly selected by US operators looking to replace obsolete ferries in response to regulatory requirements and societal expectations,” said Drew Orvieto, Head of Sales, North America, ABB Marine & Ports. “We are honored to work with MaineDOT as systems integrator for this important vessel.”

In 2021, ABB won a contract with Maine ferry operator Casco Bay Lines to supply a hybrid power and propulsion system with shore-charging capability to a 164-foot (50-meter) double-ended passenger ferry serving the Portland – Peaks Island route. Due to enter service later this year, the vessel promises an estimated 800-ton reduction in annual CO2 emissions. Elsewhere in the US ferry market, ABB has recently been involved in a fleet electrification project for Washington State Ferries – the largest ferry system in the country – and supplied the power and propulsion package for the latest ‘Maid of the Mist’ Niagara Falls tour ferries, the first fully electric vessels built in the US.


ABB’s Process Automation business automates, electrifies and digitalizes industrial operations that address a wide range of essential needs – from supplying energy, water and materials, to producing goods and transporting them to market. With its ~20,000 employees, leading technology and service expertise, ABB Process Automation helps customers in process, hybrid and maritime industries improve performance and safety of operations, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future.

ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered and operated. Building on over 140 years of excellence, ABB’s more than 105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation.