Flying Fish - Gijsbert van Marrewijk Credit: Flying Fish - Gijsbert van Marrewijk

Flying Fish develops hydrofoils that increase the efficiency of fast ships with up to 80%, thus contributing to the possibility of emission-free shipping. “Rotterdam is the steppingstone for realising our ambition: becoming the main supplier for hydrofoils for fast ships."

In collaboration with Enviu, Zepp.Solutions en Watertaxi Rotterdam, Flying Fish developed an electric watertaxi that runs on hydrogen. A scoop for the port of Rotterdam. But there is more to be achieved on the water when it comes to saving energy. “Ships can save a lot of energy if they achieve a decrease in resistance on the water” co-founder Gijsbert van Marrewijk explains.

Saving energy by reducing resistance

This is made possible by the hydrofoils. Hydrofoils are wings placed underneath a boat. At high enough speed, the hydrofoils can lift the boat from the water. Flying Fish develops so-called hydrofoil-modules, wings that can be integrated into existing designs. This technique can reduce the energy usage of high-speed boats with up to 80%. How much the reduction is exactly for different types of ships can be estimated with the calculation tool Flying Fish has developed.

Airplane technology

Many of the engineers that work for Flying Fish have a background in airplane and space technology, and there’s a good reason for that. “It’s really a kind of airplane technology under water. Hence, our motto is: You build a ship, we make it fly. But this doesn’t quite comprises our technique wholly. Other questions that help guide us towards a fitting concept design are: At what wavelength are ships supposed to be able to fly? What types of ships are interesting to develop first? What type of ships allow for the most gains in energy reduction? Do the wings have to be collapsible?”

Subsidy for research

With the subsidy Smart Energy Systems (SES), Flying Fish will research the desires of different parties in the port of Rotterdam. They will engage in conversation with numerous parties, including rowers (KRVE), Loodswezen Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Watertaxi Rotterdam and shipbuilders from the region. “Rotterdam has a progressive mentality among shipyards. Our most important goal is to have such parties declare: if this technique exists, we want to make use of it. If we can demonstrate that there is enough demand for our product we can make a next step in developing our technology.”


Incidentally, the hydrofoils technique is not something new. “During the Cold War, navy vessels already made use of hydrofoils. But the technology has never really been developed further, since there was never a necessity to save on fuel, because its price was relatively low. That’s shifting now.”

The technique is suitable for fast ships that transport people, and there’s a large market for such ships. “This includes ferries, patrol boats, and ships that transport people towards wind turbines at sea. Each year, 2000 ships that can make use of our technology are produced throughout the world. Our ambition is to become the main supplier for hydrofoils for these types of ships.”