The race is on to reduce emissions as the effects of climate change are starting to become apparent to all who care to look. With global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂) alone up by almost 50 per cent since 1990, governments and supranational bodies are taking steps to reverse the relentless rise in greenhouse gases via legislation. In Europe, the EU has set an ambitious target of cutting such emissions by 40% over the next decade and of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Worldwide, 189 nations have signed up to the 2016 Paris Agreement to keep the increase in global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Every aspect of industrial and economic activity must play its part including shipping and specifically harbour tugs which, typically operating close to the shore and often in urban and industrial areas, are natural candidates for taking the first steps to adopting emissions-free operations. Ports are playing an important role in sustainability, with Antwerp and Rotterdam notable examples.

Another is Ports of Auckland, the launch customer for the first RSD-E Tug 2513, which has embraced the ambitious goal of becoming a zero emissions port by 2040. In light of the renewed impetus to tackle climate change, the challenge presented by Ports of Auckland for a fully electric tug has come at exactly the right time.

Taking a stand on sustainable shipbuilding

Damen has long had the ambition to become the most sustainable shipbuilder in the world, both in its production methods and in terms of the vessels it builds. The group is well known for its extensive commitment to investing in research and development to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. An important part of this is ongoing consultations with both port operators and tug owners, with the goal of creating vessels that meet both their operational and regulatory needs.

A big step forward

In July 2020, a ceremony was held at Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam to mark the keel-laying of the first all-electric RSD-E Tug 2513 for the Ports of Auckland. What makes this a pivotal event in the 220-year history of tugboats is that when launched, the vessel will be the first, fully electric tug with 70 tonnes of bollard pull in existence. This potentially heralds a new era of emissions-free operations in a critical area of maritime activity and marks a big step towards both for Damen and for a sustainable future in harbour and other maritime operations worldwide.

Twelve key facts about the RSD-E Tug 2513

  • 70 tonnes bollard pull.
  • Can be fully re-charged in only two hours with minimum effort.
  • Compact design at 25.7 metres in length, 13.1 metres beam.
  • Maximum speed 12 knots.
  • The full electrical propulsion system has been developed in-house. Integrating all the components allows Damen to design and build the best maritime solutions for its customers.
  • The 2800 kWh battery package delivers more redundancy and less maintenance, resulting in a total cost of ownership that is comparable to a conventional diesel-driven tug.
  • All-electrical propulsion removes the necessity of oxygen in the engine room to run fossil fuel driven engines, making it safer for operations in and around LNG terminals and other hydrocarbon / chemical facilities.
  • The vessel can operate with a crew of just two persons thanks to its ergonomic layout. Automation and remote control via Alarm, Monitoring and Control Systems deliver an unmanned engine room, monitored and managed from the shore.
  • The RSD Tug 2513 is a compact tug designed to work bow first. Operators never need to reposition their tugs, whether they are working in indirect or direct mode and whether they are sailing ahead or astern as a stern or bow tug.
  • RSD tugs are built for optimal sailing, manoeuvring and assisting all types of vessels from the largest VLCCs to container vessels with extreme flare.
  • The RSD-E Tug 2513 is equipped a with patented, twin fin, skeg which ensures a predictable sailing performance. This gives the operator optimal towing performance at both the stern and bow of an assisted vessel.
  • The RSD-E 2513 is full of innovative features including cloud-based remote monitoring for maximum efficiency and a flexible glued superstructure for minimum noise and vibration.

With the first RSD-E Tug 2513 in build, Damen is already working on offering zero-emission versions of its IMO Tier III-ready Next Generation tug series.


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