Damen’s first all-electric tug Sparky delivered to Ports of Auckland

In a major milestone Damen’s first all-electric harbour tug, the RSD-E Tug 2513, was officially delivered to its new owner, Ports of Auckland (POAL). The revolutionary tug was named Sparky and also received her Māori name, ‘Tiaki’, in a special blessing ceremony held in Auckland on August 8.

Sparky the world’s first full sized ship-handling electric tug during the blessing ceremony in Auckland. Photo, Brett Phibbs.

This powerful new tug, which has a 70-tonnes bollard pull, is capable of manoeuvring even the largest vessels and can undertake two or more assignments before being recharged, which takes just two hours.

With its pristine environment and unique ecosystem in the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is renowned for its commitment to sustainable development. In 2016, Ports of Auckland adopted the goal of becoming a zero emissions port by 2040 and, in light of the impetus to tackle climate change, the port authority challenged Damen to develop a fully electric tug. Over the course of the next six years the two organisations worked closely to develop this pioneering, sustainable vessel type.

Sparky the world’s first full sized ship-handling electric tug during the blessing ceremony in Auckland. Photo,Brett Phibbs.

Caring for the environment
Ports of Auckland’s General Manager Marine and Multi Cargo Operations, Allan D’Souza, said: “It is wonderful to have Sparky here in Auckland and to be able to get aboard and put her through her paces. We held a blessing ceremony with local Māori iwi (tribe) Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, as a final step before we officially start operations. As part of the blessing, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei gave Sparky her Māori name, ‘Tiaki’, which means to care for people or place, in recognition of her role in reducing emissions and our port’s impact on the environment.”

Arnout Damen, Chief Executive Officer of Damen, commented: “I’m very proud about the fact that we can use our expertise together with our client to develop new sustainable ways of keeping ports operational, while lowering the impact on the environment as much as possible. Ports of Auckland is aiming to become a zero emissions port by 2040 and its ambitions align with Damen’s, as we continue our efforts to become the most sustainable shipbuilder in the world.”

Pioneering step for Ports of Auckland
“Ports of Auckland has taken a bold step in pioneering the use of fully electric harbour tugs and it is an honour to have worked with them on this project,” added Pim Schuurman, Damen’s Regional Sales Manager Asia Pacific. “We hope that in the future we will be able to look back and see that Sparky marked the beginning of a significant shift from diesel to clean, zero emissions electric tugs.”

Foto: Ports of Auckland photo shoot - Sparky the world’s first full sized ship-handling electric tug during the blessing ceremony in Auckland this morning at Ports of Auckland. 08 August 2022 Photograph by Brett Phibbs / PhibbsVisuals