An electric ferry for the heart of Plymouth

The Mount Batten Ferry

The Mount Batten Ferry is owned and operated by Universal Marine Services Ltd. It has been running for 22 years, 363 days a year, between the historic Barbican and the Mount Batten peninsula.

It carries over 200,000 passengers a year, on more than 18,500 crossings, and the service is an ideal and frequent way for commuters, shoppers, tourists, walkers and people on a night out to travel using a hop on/hop off ferry link.

Until recently, two vessels – Copper and sulphur – have been used in rotation on the route, with their power provided by diesel engines.

Support from the University, through the £6.4 million Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab, provided the funding to refit Copper with an electric motor that is now powering its daily journeys.

The Mount Batten Ferry

The Mount Batten Ferry

Transforming the ferry to electric power

Copper is the smaller of the Mount Batten Ferry business’ fleet and can carry up to 12 passengers. She underwent her transformation to electric power during a period when the service was closed to passengers due to the ongoing pandemic.

The vessel’s new electric drive install was designed and fitted in-house by Universal Marine Services Ltd, with the help of a local company Flint Engineering. The vessel also has a new electronic drive propulsion system and solar charging capability.

The University is continuing to support the ferry operators by looking into emissions and air pollution using sensors installed on the vessel.

Captain Dan Stevens, owner of Universal Marine Services Ltd:

“Copper was chosen for an electric drive retrofit as it is one of Plymouth’s busiest ferries and operates daily between The Barbican and Mount Batten.

“She made an ideal vessel to trial a new electric drive and will hopefully make a great addition, and leap forward, to Zero Carbon Emission transport for Plymouth’s waters.”

Read more about the Mount Batten Ferry

CEO and Harbour Master for Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, Captain Richard Allan:

“A year ago we launched the Port of Plymouth Air Quality strategy and invited our stakeholders to input into the strategy and consider and implement any new ideas that they may be able to adopt to improve air quality.

“With the installation of the Plymouth City Council charging points on the Barbican Landing Stage, and Copper’s new electric engine and solar charging capability, this is another hugely positive step forward as part of the Port’s commitment to improving air quality.”

<p>SRRDG exhibit and sponsor plymouth barbican</p>
<p>Mount Batten. Getty Images mountbatten</p>

Clean maritime research and innovation

The University of Plymouth is among the UK’s leading proponents of clean maritime research and innovation.

It is conducting research in fields as varied as maritime cyber and marine autonomy, advanced engineering and the arts, biological and environmental science and Big Data.

Through engagement with business and the wider scientific community, it is pioneering new ways of transforming this research into practical solutions to challenges being faced across the marine and maritime sectors.

It is also harnessing the capability of new and existing technology within this sphere, including looking into the development and application of autonomous marine systems to advance our understanding of the ocean.

The University is continuing to forge new areas of clean maritime research and drive debate around how they can be applied effectively and collaboratively

The University is continuing to forge new areas of clean maritime research and drive debate around how they can be applied effectively and collaboratively


World leaders

We are ranked the number one university globally for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 14: life below water.

The award recognises the quality of our marine research and teaching as well as our efforts to reduce the impact of campus activities on the marine environment. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Learn more about our rankings

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021: life below water

Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab

This project gives Devon-based SMEs the opportunity to work collaboratively with our scientists and technologists to develop new products, services or processes with a focus on big data and safeguarding the environment.

Find out more about Impact Lab here

Supporting the business community

The University of Plymouth has a track record of using its world-leading research and expertise to support and benefit businesses in Devon, Cornwall and beyond.

The Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab and the Marine Business Technology Centre, both part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, are the latest in a long line of initiatives through which the University has used Government and European funding in this way.

Learn how your organisation can benefit from connecting and collaborating with us