ABB to power first fully electric US tugboat for maximum efficiency and zero-emission operations

Source: press release, 29 July 2021

Crowley Maritime Corporation’s fully electric ‘eWolf’ tug
Crowley Maritime Corporation’s fully electric ‘eWolf’ tug (illustration: Crowley Engineering Services)

ABB will deliver an integrated electric propulsion system and advanced 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 25-metre vessel will support ship arrivals and departures at the Port of San Diego in California. It will be the first all-electric, battery-powered harbour tug ever built and operated in the United States and only the third of its kind to enter operations worldwide.

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 harbour escort services.

Under a contract with MBB, 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, according to ABB.

The new vessel will embody Crowley’s commitment to sustainable shipping solutions going forward.

“The eWolf’s innovative propulsion system and advanced control technology will provide a sustainable ship assist solution with increased safety and capabilities,” says Crowley’s Porter Sesnon, director, business development for ship assist and offshore services. “Crowley looks forward to working with ABB and Master Boat Builders to deliver this ground-breaking ship assist tug and to provide customers in San Diego with a zero-emission, high-performing vessel.”

Systems on board 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 manoeuvring support and future remote operations.

“At ABB, we are pioneering the adoption of electric, digital and connected technologies for greater sustainability in the Americas and globally, as well as helping shipowners deploy the automated systems that advance maritime safety,” says David Lee, Senior Account Manager – Commercial Vessels, ABB Marine & Ports. “It is an honour to have been selected by Crowley – a company renowned for reliability in service provision, whose goals on the environment and safety align so closely with our own.”

In addition to systems integration, engineering and automation on the newbuilding, ABB will supply the award-wining Onboard DC Grid™ power distribution system platform for optimised 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.