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ABB Propulsion for U.S. First Fully Electric Tug

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

July 29, 2021

Crowley Maritime Corporation's fully electric eWolf tug
Image credit: Crowley Engineering Services

Crowley Maritime Corporation's fully electric eWolf tug Image credit: Crowley Engineering Services

ABB said Thursday it would deliver an integrated electric propulsion system and vessel control technology for Crowley’s pioneering eWolf tug, built for sustainable and safe operations at the Port of San Diego.

Upon delivery by Alabama-based shipbuilder Master Boat Builders, Inc. (MBB) in mid-2023, Crowley Maritime Corporation’s new 82-foot (25-meter) vessel will support ship arrivals and departures at the Port of San Diego in California.

It will be the first all-electric, battery-powered harbor tug ever built and operated in the United States and only the third of its kind to enter operations worldwide, ABB said.

"Tug operations can be demanding and often need to adapt to fast-changing load requirements. Batteries provide power to the propulsion system almost instantaneously, making ship-assist operations more efficient with no emissions while delivering reliable ship assist and harbor escort services," ABB added.

Under a contract with Master Boat Builders, ABB is supplying the end-to-end electric propulsion system to sustain emissions-free operations in waters off the eighth-most populous city in the United States. 

The solution will include a six-megawatt-hour energy storage system (ESS), allowing Crowley’s eWolf tug to achieve 70 short-tons of bollard pull emissions-free. The battery allows the tug to complete a full day of typical work before there is a need to charge.

Achieving lower operational costs on a through-life basis than an equivalent vessel running a conventional engine, the all-electric propulsion solution holds the potential to eliminate the equivalent of over 100 cars worth of CO2 pollution every year, per ABB.

Systems on board the tug will also feature products from the ABB Ability Marine Pilot family for enhancing crew safety and reducing workload.

 "ABB Ability Marine Pilot Vision situational awareness solution will provide 360-degree visibility from the pilot’s station, and ABB Ability™ Marine Control will enable maneuvering support and future remote operations," ABB said.

In addition to systems integration, engineering, and automation on the newbuilding, ABB will supply the Onboard DC Grid power distribution system platform for optimized energy use.

"Onboard DC Grid enables seamless integration of battery for zero-emissions operations by using renewables as an energy source. The full scope of supply also includes propulsion motors, low-voltage switchboards, transformers, li-ion batteries, mechanical L-drive thrusters and the ABB Ability Remote Diagnostics System for Marine for continuous equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance," ABB said.