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Jørn Ove HellenTuesday, 20 February 20244 min read

Understanding Hybrid/Electric HSC Service Requirements

The maritime industry is witnessing a paradigm shift with the introduction of hybrid and electric propulsion systems for High-Speed Crafts (HSCs) and Crew Transfer Vessels (CTV).

As vessels embrace these new and greener technologies, the industry faces challenges in understanding and meeting the service and Life Cycle Support (LCS) requirements of these innovative propulsion systems. Let's dive in.


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Challenges of New Technologies

The integration of hybrid and electric propulsion systems introduces a level of technological complexity that the industry is still becoming familiar with. As of now, there is a knowledge gap, and maritime professionals are grappling with the intricacies of these systems. However, there are also major efforts to fill these gaps, and establish standardisation within both systems and procedures.

While traditional diesel propulsion systems have been the norm for almost a century, the transition to electric power sources raises numerous questions, particularly concerning maintenance practices and standardisation.

These are elements that are traditionally developed in collaboration between manufacturers and the classification societies, based on experience and the technical specifications of systems in operation. Due to the novelty of marine hybrid and electric systems, and the rapid innovation of solutions, the industry is to a large degree having to start from scratch.


Maintenance Discrepancies

One noticeable distinction between electric and diesel propulsion lies in the maintenance requirements. While a diesel system in itself is much “simpler”, Electric systems generally exhibit lower maintenance needs when compared to their diesel counterparts.

The shift from traditional diesel engines to electric power introduces a reduction in the frequency and complexity of maintenance tasks, but methods for diagnosis and analysis of a systems are still being formulated, primarily due to the relative novelty of electric propulsion systems in the maritime sector.

These propulsion systems are complex and require a more holistic approach when trying to diagnose faults. Those performing the service or repairs must, to a larger extent than before, be familiar with the system as a whole, including its software components. Therefore, it's important that the supplier or service provider has an established service-network so your need can be accommodated in a timely manner. 


Comparing Diesel and Electric Maintenance

Diesel engines, while much simpler in operation, often demand more frequent and intricate maintenance procedures. On the other hand, electric propulsion systems, relying on electrical components, offer a more streamlined approach to maintenance, but still lack both standardisation of systems and the supply chain/availability of parts, at least at the scale we find for traditional systems.


Key Considerations for Electric/hybrid Maintenance

The shift in power source, from a mechanical diesel engine to an electrical drive, also brings about changes in the very nature of required maintenance.

Understanding the nuances an electric propulsion system is crucial. Factors such as integration of advanced battery technologies, and the overall electrical infrastructure and the system´s internal communications all need careful consideration.

Moreover, the ease of which you can replace specific components in an electric system contributes to a different set of maintenance practices compared to diesel engines. While replacing a major component of a combustion system is more flexible, like an engine swap, a hybrid or fully electric system must, to a whole new degree, consider “software compatibility” in addition to the hardware specifications.

The mentioned complexity and novelty of electric hybrid systems are also a strength, not just a challenge for providing Comprehensive service offerings. This encompasses a spectrum of proactive and reactive measures designed to ensure the continual functionality of maritime systems. The next-level data gathering capabilities of electric/hybrid propulsion systems allows for predictive analytics, and by that, swift response to emerging issues. This is of course integral components of a comprehensive service package, which we will start to see spread as both hardware and software matures.

By identifying potential problems before they escalate, these services contribute to a reduction in unscheduled downtime, promoting a smooth and uninterrupted operational environment. In fact, there are several applications of such analytics to greatly optimize your operation.


Related article: Future Of Propulsion Technology: How To Stay Competitive In 2030


Knowledge and expertise arising with scale

While hybrid and electric systems are an aspiration of most nations, not to mention a necessity to reach international and domestic climate goals, it is still an emerging market and service procedures, and standardisation are still being developed with every vessel put into operation. Early adopters should consider the regional expertise and service offerings from their manufacturer, while working closely with them from the design-stage to ensure local parts availability and infrastructure.



Delving into the maintenance requirements of hybrid and electric HSCs reveals a landscape with more questions than answers. It's therefore beneficial seeking out suppliers familiar with the system as a whole, not just its design, assembly, or individual components. Furthermore, due to the evolving nature of the technology, some may shy away from it altogether.

This evolution necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges posed by these technologies being applied by various markets and operations. In turn this emphasises the need for commitment from the manufacturer or system integrator towards specialised service offerings. As the technology stands today, it is the only way to ensure a seamless operation and the longevity of vessels embracing zero/low emission solutions.


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