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Damen Makes Progress on First Fully-Electric RSD Harbor Tug

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Sparky makes her way to the paint shop at Damen Songcam (courtesy Damen)

Published Jun 18, 2021 4:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

Shipbuilder Damen is making progress on its first fully-electric reversed stern drive tug, which is currently under construction for New Zealand’s Ports of Auckland. Recently, Damen's Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam installed the tug’s batteries.

The project involved the installation of more than 2,200 batteries totalling nearly 2,800 kWh in capacity (the equivalent of 28 top-end Teslas). With this, the tug - named Sparky - will carry out two or more berthing/unberthing operations with up to 70 tonnes of bollard pull on a single charge. Afterwards, it will take just two hours for the tug to recharge to its full capacity.

For redundancy purposes, the batteries are arranged in strings. If one battery in a string were to fail, the others would simply carry on the work, Damen said.

Ports of Auckland placed the order with Damen in August of 2019 as part of its mission to achieve zero emissions by 2040. Work continues on Sparky, and Damen expects to deliver her towards the end of this year.

Damen put a high priority on the electric tug contract, as it is aiming to transition its business towards zero-emissions propulsion. The company has extensive experience in the construction of fully electric vessels, including seven fully-electric ferries for the City of Copenhagen and a fully-electric cutter suction dredger for an Australian client. It is also constructing a full range of all-electric and hybrid-electric ferry vessels for two public ferry operators in Canada.

Sparky got her name by means of an online suggestion box, open to the general public. Auckland's port authority disqualified some of the proposals - like Tuggy McTugface, The Fighting Queen of Covid, Electric Disco Biscuit and Doug - and presented the internet community with four final choices. These included Arahi (a Maori word meaning to lead, escort, conduct or drive), Hiko (Maori for electrical, power), E.T. (an acronym for "electric tug") and Sparky (the final vote winner).