U.S.’s First Fully Electric Tug Delivered to Crowley

US electric tugboat
eWolf was delivered to Crowley ahead of its entery into service this spring (Crowley)

Published Jan 24, 2024 3:22 PM by The Maritime Executive


Crowley reports it has accepted delivery of the first fully electric tugboat built in the United States. The vessel which was called a “game changer” by San Diego port officials when it was ordered in 2021 will now complete final demonstration trials and be transported to California when it is expected to enter service in the spring.

Named eWolf, the vessel was built in a collaboration involving Crowley, which will own and operate the vessel, along with federal, state, and local government partners. The vessel was designed by Crowley and uses ABB’s integrated electrical propulsion system. The tug was constructed by Master Boat Builders at its shipyard in Coden, Alabama with on-site construction management by Crowley Engineering Services. 

Croley highlighted when the vessel was ordered in July 2021 that it would feature a design that allows it to operate fully electric with full performance capabilities and zero emissions. The eWolf has six megawatt-hours of energy storage, enough for the vessel to operate for a full day. For backup and longer transits, it has two generators on board. It is expected to reduce NOx emissions by 178 tons and CO2 emissions by 3,100 metric tons during its first 10 years of service. It replaces a conventional tug that consumes more than 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.

eWolf is 82 feet long with 70 tons of bollard pull. It also employs ABB’s artificial intelligence technology to increase safety and has a unique 360-degree visibility capability. The vessel began sea trials late last year.

"The eWolf demonstrates where the maritime industry can go, in terms of both innovation and sustainability, with solid partnerships between owners, designers, suppliers, and shipyards," said Garrett Rice, president of Master Boat Builders. "We are proud to have partnered with Crowley in the construction of the eWolf and look forward to seeing her at work in San Diego very soon."

Crowley reports work is also underway to complete the microgrid shoreside charging station at the Port of San Diego to support the vessel’s operations. 

The new tug joins the growing trend of using batteries and electric propulsion for harbor craft and inland shipping. Last year, Kirby Inland Marine commissioned the first inland towing vessel in the U.S. which is a plug-in hybrid electric inland towing vessel. New Zealand, Canada, and China have deployed electric tugs and Turkish shipyards have begun their construction for multiple customers. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges reported last October that it had ordered a vessel that was likely to become Europe’s first all-electric tugboat.