SAAM Joins Electric-Tugboat Trend With Two Harbor Tugs for Vancouver

saam electric tugboat concept design
Courtesy SAAM

Published Oct 14, 2022 6:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

SAAM Towage has closed on a deal to buy two new all-electric tugs for bulk terminal operations in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Mining company Teck Resources has agreed to a contract to use the vessels for ship assist and harbor towage at Neptune Terminals, a coal and potash terminal at the Port of Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. Neptune is jointly owned by Canpotex, a potash exporter, and by Teck's coal division. Between these two commodities it handles about 24 million tonnes of bulk product a year. 

The two electric tugs will have 70 tonnes of bollard pull to handle large bulkers, and with charging provided by BC's hydropower-fed grid, they will be emissions-free on a well-to-wake basis. They will be the first electric tugs in SAAM's fleet and the first assigned to joint ship assist / general towage duties in British Columbia, the partners said in a statement.

In operation, they will eliminate over 2,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. They will also run quietly, reducing underwater noise in the sensitive environment of the Strait of Georgia.

"This partnership is based on a shared commitment to do our part to address the global challenge of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. In addition to this, the tugs will significantly reduce the impact of underwater noise, which is another concern in British Columbia’s waterways," said Sander Bikkers, the head of SAAM Towage Canada. 

The tugs will be built by Turkish tug giant Sanmar to a Robert Allan Ltd. design. Delivery is expected in the second half of 2023. 

Teck has also recently announced an agreement with Oldendorff Carriers to employ more efficient bulkers for shipments of steelmaking coal from the Port of Vancouver, which will reduce emissions by about 45,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Teck has also announced a pilot of a fully electric on-highway transport truck.