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B.C. Leads Globally with 5 Electric Tugs

With roughly 25,000 kilometers of coastline, British Columbia (B.C.) has the largest commercial shipping ports in Canada making it an active ocean-going transportation highway. The efficient movement of goods along the coast is at the heart of the province’s economic vitality, thanks to the support of 1,200 tugboats operating in its waters. In line with the CleanBC environmental commitments, two B.C. based tugboat operators, HaiSea Marine and SAAM Towage, are the first leaders taking on alternative fuel technology, and about to make B.C. home to the world’s largest hybrid and fully electric tugboat fleet.

Key players in the maritime sector’s sustainable movement

HaiSea Marine, majority owned by the Haisla Nation in partnership with Seaspan, is a prominent player in the northern B.C. region. Marking a technological leap, they recently welcomed the HaiSea Wamis, the first of their three fully electric tugboats.

HaiSea Marine tug in water
Photo credit Sanmar Shipyards

Operating solely on electric power, the HaiSea Wamis, a Robert Allan Ltd. ElectRA 2800 design, will support operations at LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitamat. With a total battery capacity equivalent to running 70 Teslas all day, the HaiSea Wamis operates on Corvus Energy’s Orca batteries, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 1,700 tonnes per vessel per year. It takes a mere four hours to go from zero to a full charge, setting a new standard for efficiency in the maritime industry.

This partnership is not just technological progress but a model for inclusive collaboration with Indigenous communities. Haisla Nation’s agreement with Seaspan, a B.C. maritime industry stalwart, will ensure access to employment, training and procurement opportunities for Haisla people.

Another industry trailblazer in British Columbia is, SAAM Towage, the leading harbor towage and oil and gas escort tugboat operator in the Americas, who has partnered with Canadian mining company Teck, to introduce two fully electric tugboats at B.C.’s Neptune Terminal and the Port of Vancouver.

Two tugs in waterThese ElectRA 2300SX harbour/ship assist tugs, also designed by Robert Allan Ltd., are expected to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 1,200 tonnes per vessel per year which is the equivalent of approximately 600 cars a year off the road. This collaboration underscores the industry-wide commitment to sustainable practices and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, while showcasing the innovative mindset of the B.C. maritime industry.

This green revolution is made possible by Robert Allan Ltd., a Vancouver-based naval architect firm founded in 1928 and internationally recognized for their innovative designs. The firm’s progressive thinking has positioned them as a key player in the uptake of electrification technology on coastal craft. The company’s decarbonizing efforts began in 2009 with the delivery of the world’s first battery-hybrid harbour tug, the Carolyn Dorothy for Foss Maritime.

These five new tugs to the B.C. fleet will be able to perform nearly all of their daily operations quietly and cleanly from battery power, significantly reducing underwater radiated noise, improving the lives of Orcas and other marine life.

Significance of B.C.’s Maritime Electrification

The introduction of hybrid and fully electric tugboats is a positive change for B.C.’s maritime industry, economy and environmental impact.

The shift towards the use of electric propulsion systems onboard tugboats strategically aligns with CleanBC intentions – addressing underwater noise pollution to protect marine life and reducing the industry’s carbon emissions footprint. These electric tugboats showcase technological advancements while also bringing economic benefits. The B.C. maritime industry is estimated to generate billions of dollars, by supporting various sectors like oil, potash mining and logging which in turn contribute to the province’s GDP. The collaboration between Robert Allan Ltd., Seaspan, Haisla Nation, SAAM Towage and Teck demonstrates a collective effort to drive innovation and sustainability here in our province, making B.C. an ideal place to trade and do business.

As a result, the B.C. maritime industries commitment to the global energy transition in adopting this technology sets an example for the world in environmental stewardship, economic sustainability, and a cleaner, greener, maritime future.

Find out how to become a part of this naturally favourable path in the maritime industry by contacting Trade and Invest BC.

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