On 28 November, Arnout Damen of Damen Shipyards, Derrick York of Caterpillar and Kees-Jan Mes of Pon Power signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the joint development of a series of dual-fuel methanol/diesel powered tugs. This follows Damen’s recent delivery of its first, all-electric RSD-E Tug 2513Sparky, to Ports of Auckland, New Zealand, continuing its commitment to becoming the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder. Damen’s long-term strategy to achieve this includes offering a full range of sustainable tugboats featuring both zero emission electric and carbon neutral methanol powered vessels.

The methanol ready CAT 3500E series dual-fuel pilot engines will be delivered to Damen by Pon Power in 2024 when the process of integration and testing will begin. This will be a complex undertaking involving integrating the engines with all aspects of the ship’s control, monitoring, ventilation and other systems and will take place in close cooperation with the classification societies. The aim is to have methanol powered vessels to be series production-ready in 2026. 

Damen’s strategy is to offer fully-electric models offering bollard pulls of 40, 60 and 80 tonnes respectively and methanol-fueled models with 60, 80 and 100 tonnes bollard pull. Electrically-powered tugs are ideal for zero emission operations in harbors and terminals where low cost electricity can be easily accessed between assignments via onshore infrastructure. With its greater energy density than batteries, methanol delivers increased energy storage capacity, making it suited for longer duration operations while remaining CO₂ neutral. All the vessels will be equipped with a standard Emission Reduction System developed and delivered by Damen Sustainable Solutions B.V.

Joost Mathôt, Director of Products at Damen’s Workboats division, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Caterpillar on this ground-breaking project. It is of mutual benefit to all the parties involved to begin operating the pilot engines as soon as possible, so that we can experience what it means to use methanol as a fuel in a maritime environment. We are very happy to be continuing our longstanding partnerships and are very confident that together we will be able to offer our end customers the sustainable solutions they are asking for, in the near future.”  

For Damen, the introduction of methanol-fueled propulsion systems is the logical next step in our drive towards low-emission propulsion right across our product range and an integral part of our drive to become the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder.” 

Our collaboration with Damen Shipyards Group and Pon Power brings together immeasurable expertise that allows us to learn together and innovate to address the great challenge of the energy transition,” added Brad Johnson, Vice President and General Manager Caterpillar Marine. “This is an exciting technical challenge to tackle, but most importantly, it fosters our industry’s goal to reach sustainable, low carbon operations.”


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