Western Baltic Engineering Releases Designs For Electric Towboats

Western Baltic Engineering (WBE), a Lithuania-based ship designer, unveiled a pair of electric towboat designs at the International WorkBoat Show in New Orleans. The two models, jointly called the “Electric Eel,” are intended to “support the decarbonization of America’s vast inland waterways network,” the company said in a news release.

The two new models, EE20 and EE26, offer wider range and power capabilities than a third model, EE27, which the firm released in August. The two newest models, which target the U.S. market, are designed to pull as well as push, the company said in the release.

“We are really pleased to launch these latest designs at WorkBoat,” said Chris Cowan, senior sales manager for WBE. “We see huge potential for the vessels to be designed in Lithuania and then built at U.S. yards. We have adapted our design in response to market demand in Europe following the EE27’s launch in August this year. The EE27 is set to be built for the Lithuanian Inland Waterways Authority next year. But to operate on the Danube and Rhine, we recognized the design needed to be adaptable particularly for the deeper waters. With greater capabilities, the designs can operate in the deeper rivers around America, plus they fit with the U.S. drive to switch to more electric-propelled craft.”

Cowan said the EE20 and EE26 vessels have drafts of 8.2 feet and 8.5 feet, respectively. Power packs are built into four TEU containers, offering a range of around 233 miles. Pushing capacity is estimated to be 2,500 tons for the EE20 and 1,600 tons for the EE26, according to the announcement. The vessels will be equipped with methanol-powered generators for backup power.

Andorra-based AYK Energy is designing the battery system for the WBE vessels.

According to WBE, preliminary designs for the EE20 call for the vessel to measure about 65 feet by 36 feet and to produce speeds of up to 7 mph. The EE26 would measure 85 feet by 30 feet with the same speed rating. The EE26 is designed as a retractable towboat, with an air draft range between 18 feet and 37 feet.