On board Norway's greenest tugboat

April 9, 2021

FFS Athos runs with electric motor power to and from the towing assignments. It saves the environment from emissions and customers from costs.


Engineer Rune Kvam Hermansen and skipper Johan Jansson work on what is Norway's least polluting tugboat.

- On longer transport assignments, we can drive in so-called e-mode, and cut diesel consumption by up to 75 percent, says Rune Kvam Hermansen, who is chief engineer on what is Norway's least polluting tugboat.

The vessel was built in 2014 and was incorporated into the FFS fleet at the beginning of 2020. It is mainly used for port towing, long towing, assistance and salvage.

The boat has two propellers - one at each end. These are driven from two separate engine rooms, each of which has a diesel engine with 1800 horsepower and a generator that produces enough electric motor power for the boat to maintain a cruising speed of eight knots.

The generator is powered by a marinated truck engine with over 500 horsepower.

- WE TURN ON the main engine when we have to tow. Otherwise, we mostly run on e-mode. Thus we can use the power only when we need it. It provides a good environmental benefit, says the skipper on board, Johan Jansson.

He experiences that customers are increasingly concerned about sustainability. Especially in larger ports near the cities, there is a strong focus on emissions.

The fuel savings from driving electrically are also significant. Both on long haul, which FFS Athos is often used for, and on transport stages to and from port jobs.

- 80 percent of the time we are on a trip between assignments. That is when we save diesel, says Jansson.

WHEN THE BOAT PICKED UP a seismic hull in Gibraltar, it went on e-mode all the way down. On the tow ride back, the main engine was engaged.

- We used 25 cubic meters of diesel down to Gibraltar, and 140 cubic meters back home. An ordinary tugboat would perhaps use 100 cubic meters down and the same back, says Rune.

PLUS skipper and chief engineer, there are two sailors and helmsman on board. The crew is divided into two shifts, which are patterned for four weeks at a time.

FFS Athos is also equipped with a port generator, which is put into operation when the boat is at a port that does not have shore power. A seawater-based heat pump also provides heating and cooling in the cabins on board. The wheelhouse has its own heat pump.

AT FFS ATHOS has one propeller in the bow and one stern, also makes it very useful. During a tow, it can be moored anywhere on the ship it assists. And it can quickly move the trailer to all sides.

- We can spin around, do small pirouettes and walk sideways for nine knots. There are not many other tugboats that match, Rune smiles.

The boat is built a little differently than most other tugboats. Therefore, it can be demanding to see what is in front and what is behind.

- But the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It is perhaps Rune who is most affected by the way the boat is built. He has to run between two engine rooms, Johan jokes.


Tugboat / 2014