Port of Antwerp in Belgium has expanded its port service fleet with the inauguration of three new energy-efficient tugs to assist ships in its harbours and terminals
Damen designed and built two of these reverse stern drive (RSD) tugs according to the double-bow principle for towage and pushing operations from either bow or stern. To reduce emissions, Damen installed selective catalytic reaction equipment in the engineroom to remove nitrogen oxides from engine exhaust making the tugs compliant with IMO Tier III emissions regulations.
The first of these three RSDs was purchased from Multraship Towage & Salvage. Damen then delivered the other two as newbuildings from its shipyard in Vietnam, with upgrades installed in the Netherlands.
Purchasing IMO Tier III-compliant vessels is part of Port of Antwerp’s strategy to reduce emissions from its service fleet. “Our aim is to be a climate-neutral port by 2050,” said Port of Antwerp chief executive Jacques Vandermeiren.
“In our role as operator we are investing in this energy transition. The purchase of these vessels is part of the renewal and greening of our fleet, in which we focus on sustainable and energy-efficient vessels.”
Port of Antwerp manages a fleet of 32 vessels, consisting of 18 tugs, dredgers and support vessels enabling ships to be safely and smoothly sailed from the locks to their moorings in the port. Port of Antwerp carries out 19,000 towing operations behind the locks every year. In 2020, 14,000 seagoing vessels and 57,000 inland navigation craft called at the port.
“By expanding our fleet, we are continuing our efforts to ensure our services are operational 100% of the time, while seeking to pave the way towards sustainable shipping,” said Port alderman Annick De Ridder.
“As the Port of Antwerp, we are setting a good example by taking a major step towards making our own tugs greener. In the near future, we will also experiment with tugs powered by renewable methanol and hydrogen.”
The service fleet is responsible for almost 85% of Port of Antwerp’s total CO2 emissions. To minimise that impact, a multi-year project to renew, green and optimise the fleet was set in motion. In addition to purchasing new tugs, Port of Antwerp is also looking at data to improve its processes.
It is collaborating with partners such as OptiPort, which developed a tool to optimise the planning of towage tasks, and Cognauship, which will work on the consumption of Port of Antwerp’s tugs.
“Over the past few years, a lot has changed and a lot of hard work has gone into our operational department,” said Port of Antwerp chief operations officer Rob Smeets.
“The launch of vessel traffic services, new tugboats, soon to be hybrid enforcement vessels... these are all strong achievements we have been able to realise thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of all our colleagues,” said Mr Smeets.
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