New Electric Tugboat Fleet Unveiled at Port of Vancouver

Photo: SAAM Towage.

SAAM Towage and a coalition of public and private sector partners on April 10 unveiled the first 100% electric, zero-emission tugboats that are to service clients at the Port of Vancouver starting this spring.

“In all the world, there are only a handful of electric tugboats in operation. We’ll now see two of them hard at work in Vancouver’s magnificent harbor,” British Columbia Premier David Eby said. “The reduction in pollution from these electric tugs is the equivalent of taking 600 vehicles off the road.”

“Today, we are taking a decisive step into the future,” SAAM’s CEO, Macario Valdés said. “The christening and commissioning of our first electric tugs are proof of our commitment to move towards increasingly sustainable operations, seeking the best solutions tailored to each customer and the conditions at each port.”

Electric tug operations are expected to commence in May, using clean energy from British Columbia’s hydroelectric power grid.

Industry partner Teck Resources Limited is supporting the initiative and has committed to using SAAM Towage’s services at Neptune Terminals, in line with both companies’ goals for sustainable operations.

“By adding electric-powered tugboats to our fleet, SAAM Towage is leading the way in maritime operations and is a testament to our commitment,” SAAM Towage Canada President and Country Manager Sander Bikkers said. “Together with our value-aligned partners, we aim to set a positive example for the industry in the hopes that others will join us and follow suit.”

SAAM anticipates its two inaugural battery electric tugs will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,400 metric tons annually. The tugs also emit considerably less marine noise, significantly reducing impacts on the environment and aquatic life in Port of Vancouver and beyond.

SAAM’s new ElectRA 2300-SX fleet is based on design from Vancouver naval architects Robert Allan Ltd (RAL), resulting from a collaboration between RAL, SAAM Towage, SANMAR Shipyards and Corvus Energy, among others.

SAAM Towage operates more than 25 tugs along Canada’s West Coast at eight ports in British Columbia.

By Mark Edward Nero