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Port of Antwerp tasks CMB with building the world’s first hydrogen-powered tugboat

The Port of Antwerp has furthered its leading position in the development of hydrogen as a marine fuel, placing an order for a world-first hydrogen-powered tug.

Dubbed Hydrotug, the vessel will be driven by combustion engines that burn hydrogen in combination with diesel. The motors also comply with the very strictest standard, the EU Stage V, making them the lowest-rated for emissions on the market.

The ultra-low-emission tug is being built by the Saverys family-controlled Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), also from Antwerp, a pioneer in the field of hydrogen power for shipping. The vessel will deliver within two years.

“With this world first Antwerp is making an important step in the transition to a sustainable, CO2-neutral port. By lending support to this promising technology Port of Antwerp hopes that the shipping industry will follow,” the port stated in a release.

The port has already committed to provide hydrogen fuel for ships calling, ahead of most of its rivals in Europe.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO, Port of Antwerp, commented: “As an industrial seaport, Antwerp’s role in the energy transition should not be underestimated. We are working towards becoming a CO2-neutral port. Together with our partners we are preparing for the future in a constant search for innovative applications and opportunities. With this world first we aim to further prepare the way for alternative fuels such as hydrogen, in order to realise the transition to alternative, renewable sources of energy. At Port of Antwerp we are setting a good example with this significant step towards making our own tugs eco-friendly.”

Vandermeiren has been in New York this week at the UN Climate Action Summit where his organisation was one of the 70+ signatories to a new shipping coalition to develop commercially viable, zero emission deepsea ships by 2030.

Alexander Saverys, CMB’s CEO, commented: “We are convinced of the potential of hydrogen as the key to sustainable shipping and making the energy transition of a reality. The expertise that we acquire with the Hydrotug will enable us to further develop the use of hydrogen as a ship’s fuel.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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