Fully-Electric Zeeboat to Support Clean Shipping Operations in U.S. Waters

When talking about decarbonizing the maritime industry, most of us think about the massive container ships that are probably responsible for most of the CO2 emissions in this sector. But even the smaller, apparently less impressive tugboats or towboats play an important part in this process.
Zeeboat will launch four electric tugboats in 2025 6 photos
Photo: Zeeboat
Cargo vessels could not operate without the help of tugboats – these smaller vessels that tow container barges between two terminals in inland waterways. Switching from conventional fuel to electricity when it comes to these maritime helpers could have a significant positive impact on the atmosphere, the water, and the ports where they are operating. After all, the ultimate goal in line with the 2050 deadline for net-zero carbon emissions is to replace as many of the current conventional ships as possible with cleaner, more efficient alternatives.

Located in the South Street Seaport Historic District of New York, Zeeboat wants to help create cleaner ports and waters by introducing a fully-electric tugboat. As its name suggests, it’s all about zero emissions and electric propulsion. The future boat will have an efficient hull designed by The Shearer Group Inc. (TSGI), based on “fluid dynamic calculations.” By increasing the water flow to the propeller, the combination of the towboat and the barge is supposed to be 10% more efficient than standard towboats.

Also, together with an azipod drive system, this innovative hull design is said to improve the boat’s overall efficiency by 30%, compared to traditional vessels, while also enabling safe operations to the highest standard.

The Zeeboat manufacturer is collaborating with two other partners for this clean energy project. Shift Clean Energy will provide the battery energy storage systems, and Industrial Service Solutions (ISS) will be in charge of the general contract, project management, and vessel support services. The first four electric Zeeboats are expected to start operating in U.S. waters by 2025.

Zeeboat claims to be building the first electric tugboat in North America, but there’s also another company claiming to be building the first one in the U.S. Crowley Maritime Corporation is building the eWolf in Coden, Alabama. Since this ship is due to make its debut in 2023, it might win this title after all.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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