The Port of San Diego has commissioned a shipbuilder based in Jacksonville, Florida, to build a fully electric tugboat.

The Crowley Maritime Corporation will build and operate the new tugboat, known as the “eWolf”, which will be the first all-electric powered harbour tug. The company hopes it will be introduced to service by mid-2023, where it will work at San Diego’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

Harbour tugboats are critical for towing, pushing, and guiding large ships into port, as the ships often struggle with manoeuvring around in tight spaces at low speeds. An all-electric powered tugboat will reduce emissions when active and working, making for a healthier port.

Michael Zucchet, chairman of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, said of the project: “Crowley’s first-of-its-kind electric tugboat is a game changer. It checks all the boxes by providing environmental, economic, and operational benefits for out communities and maritime industry.”

We are proud to work with Crowley and couldn’t be more pleased the eWolf will operate exclusively on San Diego Bay.”

The electric tug will replace one that consumes more than 30,000 gallons of diesel per year. Its electric design will allow the vessel to operate with zero carbon emissions, which will make for a cleaner, greener environment.

Ports are a huge source of air pollution and greenhouse gases as cruise ships, oil tankers, ferries, tugboats and many other boats move in, out and around port on a regular basis. As a result of this, towns near the Port of San Diego have some of the highest diesel pollution rates in California, due to the proximity of residences with the working industries.

The company claims that over the first 10 years of use, the new eTug will reduce 178 tons of nitrogen oxide, 2.5 tons of diesel particulate matter and 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide, compared to a conventional tug. The eWolf will source its power from a 6 megawatt-hour battery bank which will be charged at a shoreside charging station.

The 82-foot vessel will have 70 tons of bollard pull, which is pulling and towing power, and will be a step towards sustainability and decarbonization for Crowley and the maritime industry. 

CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Tom Crowley, said of the tugboat: “The eWolf represents everything Crowley stands for: innovation, sustainability, and performance. With this groundbreaking tug design, our team continues to embrace our role as leaders in the maritime industry while providing our customers with innovative and sustainable solutions done right.”