Port of Antwerp adds RSD Damen tugs in green fleet boost


The Port of Antwerp has rolled out three new Reversed Stern Drive (RSD) tugboats as part of the port’s green expansion for its tug fleet.

Crew and technical employees of the new boats have undergone training in recent months, including learning to sail with rudder propellers, and building knowledge of ship systems onboard. The tugboats were inaugurated on 19 April 2021.

The RSD format means the tugboat is designed according to the double bow principle, allowing it to be used dynamically as a front and rear tugboat.

The tug, designed by shipbuilder Damen, is more energy efficient due to its design, and is equipped with a nitrogen oxide filter, complying with International Maritime Organization (IMO) Tier III regulations.

The fleet of Antwerp’s 32 vessels is responsible for nearly 85% of CO2 emissions at the Port of Antwerp. To minimise the port’s carbon consumption, a multi-year project has been launched to greenify and optimise the fleet.

In addition to the new purchase of tugs, port planners are working with partners such as Optiport to leverage data to optimise towing tasks, and Cognauship, who work on the consumption of their own tugs.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO, Port of Antwerp, said, “Port of Antwerp wants to be a climate-neutral port by 2050. In our role as operator, we invest in this energy transition. The purchase of these boats is part of the renewal and greening of our fleet, whereby we focus on sustainable and energy-efficient vessels.”

The Port of Antwerp welcomed some 14,000 seagoing vessels in 2020. To guide all ships to and from locks and berths, the port carries out 19,000 towing tasks – now with 18 operational tugs behind the locks every year, on both the Right and Left Bank.

Rob Smeets, COO, Port of Antwerp, said, “The launch of Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), new tugs, [and] hybrid enforcement vessels soon…these are all strong achievements we were able to achieve thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of all colleagues.”

In 2020, the Port of Antwerp purchased the first RSD tugboat from Multraship NV. In July 2020 Damen announced it would deliver two RSD Tugs 2513 to the Port of Antwerp.

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