Making a good impression – H2 Barge 1 and the dawn of inland hydrogen propulsion

By 5th July 2023News

On 25 May this year, Future Proof Shipping launched the first hydrogen-powered zero emissions inland shipping container vessel – the H2 Barge 1. Since then, the vessel, previously known as FPS Maas, has been operating between the Port of Rotterdam and the BCTN terminal in Meerhout, Belgium. The vessel is on charter to BCTN who operate it on behalf of Nike EMEA, based in nearby Laakdal. In a major boost for maritime sustainability, H2 Barge 1 is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by in the region of 2000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

The vessel’s Captain, Dragoş Lupu graduated from naval high school in Romania back in 1988 and has, since then, worked exclusively in the inland shipping sector.

“The inland sector is a special adventure. Operating a vessel like that, one that ‘listens’ to everything you ask of it is a great feeling. I would never have wanted to do something different,” he says.

Maritime milestone

Having sailed aboard the innovative ship for over a month now, Captain Lupu gives his verdict on the performance of this maritime milestone so far.

“My first impressions have been surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because I anticipated that it would take me some time to get used to this new ship but, actually, the operation is the same as on a conventional vessel. It’s been very easy to get to grips with it.”

One of the characteristics that Captain Lupu expected to be a challenge was the vessel’s reduced propulsion, but this too has not been the case.

“Previously the vessel sailed with 1100hp, while now it has 1088hp. However, this is certainly sufficient for the vessel’s needs. I think it’s fair to say, the engineers – who have committed themselves body and soul to the development of this vessel – have done an excellent job. And this is just the first vessel.”

Pride, satisfaction & confidence for the future

First vessel or not, Captain Lupu certainly feels the hydrogen-powered ship has got off to a good start.

“The vessel is performing very well, and we are all proud to be a part of this new chapter in maritime history. We take great satisfaction from the fact that our work is not creating emissions. With rising demand for maritime sustainability, we are able to look with confidence towards the future, with all its hopes for a cleaner, healthier environment.”

Pleasant working environment

With emissions so significantly reduced, the benefits for the environment are clear. However, as Captain Lupu points out, the H2 Barge 1 also offers a number of benefits for those on board.

“The advantages of a hydrogen-powered vessel are significant, and they are also plain to see. For one thing, the ship is practically silent – which must surely be of benefit to life on and under the water as well as those aboard. Also, there is no smell of exhaust gas in the air, and, with no exhaust gas, the ship stays very clean. It’s a very pleasant environment to work in.”

A second home

“That’s important to us; we spend a lot of time on board. The ship is a second home for us. As crew we’re co-habiting, it’s like being in a family.”

For Captain Lupu, this comparison is particularly relevant; his son Alex sails aboard the H2 Barge 1 as Helmsman.

“This all started when Alex was in high school. He had vacation so I brought him onboard with me so he could see where I worked. After that, even though he has a degree in another field, he chose a career in navigation.”

Next generation of inland shippers

Alex is just one of the new generation of inland shippers that Future Proof Shipping is looking to work with as it develops its fleet of hydrogen-powered vessels for the future, as Director of Operation Fokke van der Veen explains, “As we seek to further maritime sustainability, we are looking not only to build a sustainable fleet, but a sustainable team. This includes a crew with a passion for the environment and its stewardship and who would be proud to be part of the zero emissions future we are working towards.”

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Avatar Liviu Grozavu says:

    Felicitări pentru întreaga cariera. Ai ajuns să-ți fie recunoscut-a public munca și devotamentul depus dea lungul anilor. Nu știu dacă în țară în media a fost publicată știrea undeva. M-ai făcut sa mă simt încă odată mândru că sunt român.

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