The first of Damen’s innovative new, all-electric RSD-E Tug 2513 class has been nominated for the 2023 Ship of the Year Award . Sparky is the result of six years of collaboration between Damen and Ports of Auckland Limited  in a quest for a sustainable, zero-emissions tug suitable for New Zealand’s unique environment.

Delivered last summer, Sparky is Damen’s first, fully-electric tug capable of 70 tonnes bollard pull that can undertake two or more assignments at full power before being recharged. This takes just 1.5 to two hours. The key challenge for Damen was how to install all the equipment for the E-Drive into a hull just ­­24 metres in length, with one of POAL’s requirements being that that the vessel should be operable by two crew. This along with a range of other capabilities was achieved through mutual cooperation and continuous two-way communication between the two parties.

The solution was to have four identical and independent battery packs, each in its own insulated, temperature-controlled battery chamber and directly connected to the propulsion system. The battery packs are designed to have a life equal to or longer that of the tug itself; 30 years / 30,000 cycles. Another advantage of having a dispersed energy source is that the propulsion system can be scaled up or down, and it will be used in other Damen tug types, both larger and smaller.

Sparky brings with it all the benefits of Damen’s proven RSD Tug 2513 series. These include always ‘bow first’ operations and its Damen-patented twin fins skegs give it excellent manoeuvrability and course stability despite its small length to width ratio. The compact dimensions of the standard RSD Tug 2513 are also ideal for manoeuvring in tight harbours and locks, and the combination of a high freeboard, large bow height fore and aft, beam, low VCG and large flood angles make Sparky extremely safe.

Other features include having the complete superstructure spring-mounted on the hull. This results in very low noise and vibration levels in the accommodation and wheelhouse. A high degree of automation across the engine room, switchboard room and battery rooms, combined with Damen’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) linked to the central alarm, monitoring and control systems, makes it easily controlled by the two crew members.

“We are delighted that the RSD-E Tug 2513 Sparky has been nominated for this prestigious award,” says Erik van Schaik, Product Manager Tugs at Damen. “It has been a long time in the making and many parts of Damen have contributed to its development, alongside POAL. We believe that its introduction heralds a new chapter in harbour towage and a milestone in sustainable shipping.”

Damen is one of three contenders for the award, which will be presented on Monday 6th November 2023 during the Maritime Awards Gala. This will be held in the Ahoy Rotterdam.