Port of Antwerp expands fleet with energy-efficient tugboats
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Port of Antwerp expands fleet with energy-efficient tugboats

Photo from Port of Antwerp.

The Port of Antwerp introduced three new energy-efficient tugboats yesterday as part of their ongoing efforts to “greenify” their fleet.

That 32-vessel fleet (which includes tugboats, dredgers and support vessels) is responsible for 85% of Port of Antwerp’s total CO2 emissions.

“Port of Antwerp aims to be a climate neutral port by 2050,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, the Port’s CEO, in a press release. “The purchase of these vessels fits in with the renewal and greening of our fleet, in which we are committed to sustainable and energy-efficient vessels.”

Last year, 14,000 boats and 57,000 barges made call at the Port of Antwerp, and tugboats are used to guide those vessels safely and smoothly from the locks to their berths and vice versa.

The Port estimates that it conducts about 19,000 towing operations each year using 18 of the little tugboats.

“In recent years, a lot has changed,” said Rob Smeets, Chief Operations Officer Port of Antwerp. “We’ve been working hard within our operational department. The launch of Vessel Traffic Services, new tugs, soon to be hybrid enforcement vessels – all are achievements that we have been able to realise thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of all colleagues.”

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The Port purchased the first Reversed Stern Drive (RSD) tug back in September last year. RSD tugboats can tow from both the front and the rear, and the new ones are specially designed and equipped with nitrogen oxide filters in order to comply with environmental regulations.

Staff had months of intensive training in order to be able to use the new tugboats.

“With the expansion of our fleet, we continue to further pave the way for sustainable shipping,” said Port Alderman Annick De Ridder. “At Port of Antwerp, we’re setting a good example by making our own tugs greener. In the near future, we’ll also experiment with tugs running on sustainable methanol and hydrogen.”

In addition to the new tugboats, the Port is also looking into ways to improve towing processes.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times