Damen Shipyards, Boluda Towage form zero-emission tug alliance

Dutch shipbuilding major Damen shipyards has inked a partnership agreement with Boluda Towage, part of Spain’s Boluda Corporación Marítima, aimed at bringing zero-emission tugs to Europe.

Image credit Damen

In the harbour and towage sector, electric and methanol-fueled propulsion systems currently offer the best and most available route to achieve zero emissions. 

The duo plans to launch its first zero-emission tug featuring a Damen RSD-E Tug 2513 design that will be powered by methanol. The two companies are currently working on identifying the potential harbour that will be best matched to its operational profile.

The RSD-E Tug 2513 builds on the Reversed Stern Drive platform to offer zero emissions performance, leveraging its fully electric propulsion. The vessel can operate with a crew of just two or three persons, and it can be fully charged in two hours, according to Damen.

Damen is developing the methanol-powered tug as part of its sustainability mission. The shipbuilder has already teamed up with U.S.-based engine manufacturer Caterpillar and the official Cat dealer for the Netherlands Pon Power for the joint development of a series of dual-fuel methanol/diesel-powered tugs.

Under the terms of the agreement, methanol-ready CAT 3500E series dual-fuel pilot engines will be delivered to Damen by Pon Power in 2024 when the process of integration and testing will begin.

Damen expects to have methanol-powered vessels series production-ready in 2026.

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Boluda Towage has been investing for years in order to achieve cleaner and greener operations in the port. An important milestone in its ambition to work towards lower emissions has been a multiple order of IMO Tier III tugs in 2020.

“We are very proud of this collaboration/partnership with Damen Shipyards, which represents an important technological and innovative advancement for our industry,” Vicente Boluda Ceballos, Vice Chairman of Boluda Towage, said.

“We know that we are in an increasingly complex environment that requires us to always be at the leading edge of solutions to increase safety in our operations, limit our environmental carbon footprint and meet the needs of our customers. With that purpose in mind, we are eager to continue our journey towards the future as a leader in the towage and maritime industry.”

“We are delighted to be working with Boluda Towage on what will be a new chapter in European towage,” Arnout Damen, CEO of Damen Shipyards Group, commented.

“Not only is this project in keeping with our own values, we also aim to give added momentum to the transition to sustainable harbor towage as the benefits that both electric and methanol-driven vessels deliver will be there for all to see. To aid this process we are already building RSD-E Tugs 2513 for stock and a number will be available for delivery in 2024/25”.

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Boluda has been on a massive expansion journey over the recent period. Namely, in February 2023 Boluda Corporación Marítima, through its Boluda Towage division, reached an agreement to acquire Smit Lamnalco, the world’s fifth-largest towage operator.

The deal is expected to enable the company to strengthen its presence in strategic markets such as Australia, the Middle East, and West Africa, with a presence in 50 countries.

The acquisition will bring Boluda Towage’s fleet to a total of 600 tugboats and an intervention capacity in 50 countries and 148 ports around the world.