World’s First Hydrogen-Fueled Tug Enters Final Commissioning Phase

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The world’s first hydrogen dual-fuel tugboat arrived at the Port of Antwerp for its final phase of commissioning. The demonstration project, which is underway with CMB.TECH, now expects to have the vessel in service by early 2024, and while a year behind the originally announced schedule they believe it will be a critical step for the shipping and port industries.

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges announced that Hydrotug 1 was being repositioned today, October 23 from Oostende where the vessel was undergoing preparations to its homeport in Antwerp. The vessel departed the port early today and with the vessel now at its homeport, Antwerp-Bruges and CMB.TECH reports they will further prepare the vessel for commissioning and operations in the coming weeks.

The project was first announced in 2019 and designed to use a combustion engine instead of fuel cells to demonstrate the potential for hydrogen as a marine fuel. The order to build the tug went to the Armón Shipyards in Navia, Spain where it was launched on May 16, 2022. A year ago, they transferred the vessel to Belgium, choosing Oostende as the port already had hydrogen facilities as it is the homeport for CMB.TECH’s Hydrocat 48, the first hydrogen-powered offshore crew transfer vessel. The tug was undergoing outfitting, including the installation of its unique engine, and initial testing while in Oostende.


Hydrogen is stored on deck in cylinders for the combustion engines (Port of Antwerp-Bruges)


Hydrotug 1 is equipped with two innovative BeHydro 2MW V12 dual-fuel medium-speed engines that can run on both hydrogen and traditional fuel. The tug is 41 feet in length and is designed as a tractor tug with 5,500 hp and 65-ton bollard pull strength. It has a capacity for a total of 415 kg of compressed hydrogen stored in 54 individual Type 3 cylinders installed in six stillages on deck.

The project had previously said its target was to place the tug in service in the first quarter of 2023. They have overcome hurdles in the innovative design and after initial testing, she is ready to move into the final phase of commissioning. 

CMB.TECH continues to push forward with this as one of several innovative projects for hydrogen propulsion. The company recently reported it is working with DBR to accelerate the development of the first dual-fuel hydrogen gensets for marine applications. Damen Shipyards is set to install the first dual-fuel hydrogen genset in the first quarter of 2024 as part of the construction of three CSOVs being built for Windcat. 

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