Crowley’s new all-electric towboat, the eWolf, plies the waters of San Diego harbor. (Photo courtesy of Crowley)
Boats & Barges

Crowley Christens All-Electric Tugboat

Crowley, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based logistics, marine and energy solutions company founded in 1892, christened the United States’ first all-electric ship assist harbor tugboat June 25 in a ceremony held at the Port of San Diego.

Built in Coden, Ala., by Master Boat Builders, the new 82- by 40-foot tugboat, named the eWolf, offers 70 tons of bollard pull and features an electrical package by ABB. A shoreside charging station allows the tugboat to operate daily on full electric-only power.

The eWolf has a molded depth of 17 feet 9 inches and a draft of 16 feet 5 inches. Top cruising speed is 12 knots. The eWolf’s has an onboard battery capacity of 6.2 megawatts (mW). Those batteries power a pair of 2,100 kW electric motors, which in turn drive two z-drive thrusters. The eWolf also carries a pair of diesel-powered 300 kW backup generators, along with a fuel capacity of 9,800 gallons. The vessel also has tankage for 750 gallons of fresh water and berthing for a crew of four.

According to Crowley, battery capacity aboard the eWolf was designed to allow the vessel to complete two ship assist tasks in the San Diego harbor with little to no charging required. The eWolf’s battery system is modular, allowing for the incorporation of future battery technology without the need to modify the vessel.

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“The eWolf is a historic milestone in the maritime industry and Crowley’s legacy and underscores our company’s commitment to serve as global sustainability leaders and innovators,” said Tom Crowley, chairman and CEO of the company. “The all-electric tugboat is the most technologically advanced vessel of its kind, and eWolf will help our customers and communities reach their decarbonization goals, while delivering capabilities that strengthen our vital supply chain. We congratulate the people whose tireless dedication brought the eWolf to fruition with our partners at the federal, state and local government, setting a new standard, not just in America, but globally.”

Attendees included Gustav Hein, director of the Mid-Pacific Gateway Region for the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd); Frank Urtasun, chairman of the Port of San Diego; Jack Shu, council member for the city of La Mesa and chair of the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s governing board; Diane Takvorian, member of the California Air Resources Board (CARB); and Joe LaCava, president pro tem of the San Diego City Council.

Partners in the project included the Port of San Diego, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District, CARB, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MarAd.

Urtasun praised the collective effort that brought the eWolf project to fruition, as well as the vessel itself.

“Crowley’s first-of-its-kind electric tugboat is a game changer,” Urtasun said. “It checks all the boxes by providing environmental, economic and operational benefits for our communities and maritime industry. This is truly a story of teamwork and collaboration. We are proud to work with Crowley and our state and local partners on this and other electrification initiatives at and around our port, including electric cargo handling equipment like our all-electric mobile harbor cranes, our microgrid, vessel shore power and more.”

Takvorian described how efforts to reduce emissions can have a real impact on nearby communities.

“Impacted port-side communities, like Barrio Logan and National City, breathe more diesel pollution than 90 percent of California communities and children experience up to five times more asthma hospitalizations,” Takvorian said. “The eWolf will contribute significantly to creating a healthy environment for all communities.”

According to Crowley, the first 10 years of operation for the eWolf will reduce 178 tons of nitrogen oxide, 2.5 tons of diesel particulate matter and 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to a conventional tug. Crowley has additional “sister tugs” under development, including what the company is calling the eTug+, a hybrid ship assist and escort tugboat that will be able to operate in either all-electric or diesel-electric modes. The eTug+ would be slightly larger and, as currently designed, offer 90 short tons of bollard pull.

The eWolf joins a pair of other tugboats in Crowley’s San Diego fleet. The Tioga, equipped with an Ulstein z-drive, has 4,500 hp. and 55 tons of bollard pull, while the Scout offers 4,800 hp., 52 tons of bollard pull and VSP propulsion.