SAAM Towage launches first 100% electric tugs in Port of Vancouver

Tugboat operator SAAM Towage and its partners in the public and private sectors have unveiled the first 100% electric, zero-emission tugboats that will service local clients in the Port of Vancouver starting this spring.

Courtesy of SAAM

The official launch took place at the Port of Vancouver on April 10, 2024.

The two electric tugs were launched in a special event with the Indigenous partners in the presence of government officials and leading sector organizations.

“In all the world, there are only a handful of electric tugboats in operation. We’ll now see two of them hard at work in Vancouver’s magnificent harbour,” British Columbia Premier David Eby said.

“The reduction in pollution from these electric tugs is the equivalent of taking 600 vehicles off the road. The future is happening right now in British Columbia.”

With support from the Province of BC, Teck Resources Limited (Teck), Neptune Terminals and the help of SAAM’s partners Oldendorff Carriers and BC Hydro, this initiative is said to represent a leap forward for the industry. It will drive sustainable environmental changes through innovation while partnering with Indigenous stewards of the lands and waters.

The initiative has been incorporated into SAAM’s corporate strategy, which has its first milestone in Canada.

“Today, we are taking a decisive step into the future. The christening and commissioning of our first electric tugs are proof of our commitment to move towards increasingly sustainable operations, seeking the best solutions tailored to each customer and the conditions at each port,” Macario Valdés, SAAM’s CEO, commented.

Electric tug operations will commence in May, using clean energy from British Columbia’s hydroelectric power grid. Industry partner Teck Resources Limited supports the initiative and has committed to using SAAM Towage’s services at Neptune Terminals, in line with both companies’ goals for sustainable operations.

“By adding electric-powered tugboats to our fleet, SAAM Towage is leading the way in maritime operations and is a testament to our commitment,” Sander Bikkers, President and Country Manager of SAAM Towage Canada, pointed out.

“Together with our value-aligned partners, we aim to set a positive example for the industry in the hopes that others will join us and follow suit here in Canada and globally.”

SAAM anticipates its two inaugural battery electric tugs will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,400 metric tons annually. The tugs also emit considerably less marine noise, significantly reducing impacts on the environment and aquatic life in Port of Vancouver and beyond.

SAAM’s new ElectRA 2300-SX fleet is based on the exclusive design from naval architects Robert Allan Ltd (RAL), resulting from a collaboration between RAL, SAAM Towage, SANMAR Shipyards, and Corvus Energy.

Earlier this year, the company’s first electric tugs reached the Port of Vancouver after completing sea trials and embarking on a journey from the Port of Tuzla in Turkey to Canada.

Related Article