Crowley is making an 80-foot electric tugboat for use in the US

Air pollution is meant to be tackled everywhere, including the waterways. With that understanding, Crowley Maritime Corp is making an 82-foot tugboat, the eWolf, which will be powered by rechargeable batteries. It will be put to use in the Tenth Avenue Maritime Terminal of Port of San Diego.

The eWolf will be able to pull 70 tons of load. Crowley is designing it to have 360 degrees of visibility form the ‘cockpit’. Crowley is also targeting autonomous operation by the watercraft.

For each eWolf deployed, the Port of San Diego will save the burning of 30,000 gallons of diesel annually. That means in ten years, a single eWolf will eliminate 178 tons of nitrogen oxide, 2.5 tons of diesel particulate matter and 3,100 tons of carbon dioxide.

The eWolf will be charged with an energy storage system that will be developed by Cochran Marine, with a 3 megawatts of battery capacity. The electric tug boat will be plastered all over with solar panels to harvest energy form the sun. A single charge will be adequate for two ship assist jobs at the habour. The batteries will be modular, with opportunity to replace parts without modifying the whole ship design.

image source: Crowley

Crowley expects to deliver the boat by mid-2023. It will be built by Master Boat Builders in Coden, Ala. Explaining the design of the eWolf, Josh Ellis, a Crowley vice president said: “The tug was originally designed to complete two standard ship assist jobs in a row without charging or utilizing the backup generator. The eTug is designed to serve harbor and ship assist comparably to current conventional tugs — without any emissions.”

Chairman of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, Michael Zucchet, said concerning the eWolf: ““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 our communities and maritime industry.”

According to Porter Sesnon, head of Crowley’s business development unit, the biggest challenge with the eWolf is the cost of the battery. He explained further that the price of lithium-ion batteries need to reduce more for zero emission electric boats to be viable in the market Crowley operates in.

Various bodies came together to make the electric tug project a reality, including the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District, the California Air Resources Board, the Port of San Diego, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Maritime Administration.