VIDEO: Ports of Auckland buys world first electric tug

Ports of Auckland has signed a contract with Dutch company Damen Shipyards to buy the world's first full-size, fully electric port tug.

The new tug, a Damen RSD-E Tug 2513 to be delivered in 2021, will have a 70 tonne bollard pull, the same as the port's strongest diesel tug Hauraki, also built by Damen.

Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland, says:

"In 2016 we set ourselves the goal of being zero emission by 2040. We set this goal because we recognise that urgent action is needed on climate change, and we wanted to be part of the solution. However, setting that goal created a tough challenge. We have a lot of heavy equipment, like tugs, and in 2016 there were no zero emission options."

Allan D'Souza, Ports of Auckland's General Manager Marine, Engineering and General Wharf Operations, says:

"When we first looked into buying an electric tug in 2016, there was nothing on the market,"  "We talked to several manufacturers about building a battery powered tug. They told us we were dreaming. Hybrid tugs were possible, they said, but not battery. No way."

Mr Gibson adds:

"Luckily for us, Allan doesn't give up. He and Marine Technical Superintendent Rob Willighagen kept talking to manufacturers, kept suggesting ways to solve problems, and they found a partner willing to take on the challenge: Damen Shipyards."

The life of the tug is around 25 years. This new e-tug will be able to do three to four shipping moves on a full charge, or around three to four hours work (one shipping move takes an hour on average). A fast charge will take about two hours. The purchase price of this tug is significant, at roughly double that of a diesel tug.