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First all-electric tugboat in US history rolls out at San Diego port: 'Demonstrates where the maritime industry can go'

The little 82-foot tug can make a big difference when it starts service this spring.

The little 82-foot tug can make a big difference when it starts service this spring.

Photo Credit: Crowley

An electric boat about to hit the water in the busy Port of San Diego will have the ability to tug, without the need for dirty chugs. 

The all-electric tugboat project — the first of its kind in the United States — was designed by Florida-based shipping company Crowley to help guide larger vessels into harbor on the West Coast. Crowley touts that the eWolf tug will be able to fulfill all the duties of a similar vessel without burning dirty energy

"The eWolf demonstrates where the maritime industry can go, in terms of both innovation and sustainability, with solid partnerships between owners, designers, suppliers, and shipyards," Master Boat Builders president Garrett Rice said in a Crowley press release on the news. Master Boat constructed the eWolf in Alabama. 

Crowley noted that the tug is part of an overall effort from government officials and industry leaders to clean up the port's air. Charging, power storage, and other essentials to electric operations are part of the plan. 

The little 82-foot tug can make a big difference when it starts service this spring. Crowley estimates that eWolf will eliminate 2.5 tons of harmful particulate matter from diesel exhaust. More than 3,417 tons of carbon dioxide will be avoided, all during the first decade of eWolf prowling the harbor. 

"The eWolf will provide services through its advanced vessel control technology and first-in-class energy features, while providing the safety, quality, and reliability that Crowley and our mariners are known for," Crowley senior vice president James Fowler said in the press release. "We are thrilled to reach this important achievement for our company and the U.S. maritime industry."

The shipping industry is massive, navigating 11 billion tons of goods to ports worldwide each year, according to the International Chamber of Shipping. Data collector Statista reports that the sector churns out about 2% of the world's air pollution. 

As a result, innovative nautical tech is being rolled out to help cut the dirty fumes at sea. Airbus is among the companies using new versions of sails. Surprisingly, large kites that can help pull ships to their destinations are also in development. 

The eWolf is the latest electric boat to hit the water. New Atlas reported that the barge can reach 12 knots, or nearly 14 miles per hour. It is outfitted with two small diesel motors to use during emergencies. 

Up north along the Pacific, in Vancouver, what's believed to be North America's first-ever electric tugboat was unveiled in July.

The planet-friendly implications of a single eWolf are impressive. But a pack of them would be even more substantial, especially if the tech can be utilized at ports around the country. Research has linked particle pollution and high heat to increased fatal heart attack risk. 

Crowley's tugboat could become part of the solution to prevent at least some maritime-related toxic particulates from filling our atmosphere. 

"We are proud to have partnered with Crowley in the construction of the eWolf and look forward to seeing her at work in San Diego very soon," Rice said in the Crowley press release.

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