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Sparky, world’s first full sized, ship-handling e-tug arrives in Auckland

​​Ports of Auckland welcomes Sparky, the world's first full-sized ship-handling electric tug.

Shrouded in fog, Sparky arrived in the Waitematā Harbour early this morning escorted by Ports of Auckland's current tugs and pilot boats. Sparky is the first full-sized ship-handling e-tug in the world.

"Welcoming Sparky is an exciting day for us at the port," says Roger Gray CEO of Ports of Auckland. "Sparky is the first e-tug of its type in the world and was a truly innovative project for us. Her arrival marks a big step towards the ports' decarbonisation of operations and towards our long-term emissions reduction goals"

For Allan D'Souza, GM Marine and Multi Cargo Operations at Ports of Auckland who has been leading the e-tug project for the port, it is a dream come true.

"Back in 2016, when we first pitched the idea for a fully electric tug, we were told we were dreaming. To see Sparky in real life like this is that dream coming true."

"Due to the pandemic, we were unable to travel so we've been watching the build, launch and initial sea trials online. To welcome her to Tāmaki Makaurau now is incredible."

"You'll be able to spot Sparky on the water as her superstructure is painted bright green, unlike our diesel tugs. What you won't notice is noise or smoke; being electric she's a lot quieter, and cleaner, than our current diesel tugs" says D'Souza.

"I would like to thank the ports' Marine team and acknowledge our partner Damen for their work. When the project started there were no emissions-free ship-handling options around; however, Damen were up for the challenge and now they've changed the game with our e-tug Sparky. E-tugs are the future for ship handling and Ports of Auckland are proud to have led the way." says Gray.



  • Sparky is the first Damen RSD-E Tug 2513.
  • She has a 6-metre draft, is 24.73 length and has two azimuth thrusters with 3-metre diameter propellers.
  • Sparky has a 70-tonne bollard pull (the same as the port's strongest diesel tug, Hauraki).
  • There are 80 battery racks holding 2,240 batteries, totalling 2,784 kWh of power.
  • We expect Sparky to do up to four shipping moves on a charge of batteries. Recharge time is approximately two hours.
  • Sparky is anticipated to save approximately 465 tonnes of CO2 in diesel emissions annually.
  • To ensure absolute safety – of utmost importance in shipping – Sparky also has two 1000kW back-up generator sets which will only be used in cases of emergency or some fault that is not part of business as usual. We expect to use them at most, once or twice a year.
  • The expected cost of operating Sparky is less than a third of the cost of running a diesel tug.
  • There will be approximately six weeks of testing in Auckland before Sparky is fully commissioned and operational.
  • Sparky was named via a public competition and vote in 2020.

Photos, video and drone footage for media use:

The following link contains downloadable files with footage and photos of Ports of Auckland's Sparky arriving at Auckland:

These are free for media to use. 

For more information contact:​

Julie Wagener

Communications Manager

M: 027 421 6697

E: [email protected]