In early March, Foss Maritime Company announced plans to build the world’s first true hybrid tug boat, which is able to consume less fuel and substantially reduce harmful emissions such as nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and sulphur dioxide. Foss Maritime Company specializes in marine transportation and logistics and anticipates a growing market for these “green” vessels.

tug boat off California Coast

A new hybrid tug will be built by Foss Maritime Company and is expected to begin operating in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by 2008. Foss Maritime

The nation’s top two container ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, have expressed interest in funding the hybrid craft project as part of their San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, a plan aimed at reducing health risks from air pollution associated with port-related ships in addition to other transportation sources. As of now, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have pledged $850,000 and $500,000 respectively for the construction of the vessel. Foss Maritime would homeport the new hybrid tug in Southern California for five years in exchange for project funding. Conventional tug boat models usually cost about $6 million, but the new hybrid engine will increase the final cost of construction by $3 million.

“Foss is proud to be working with the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on such an important project as the hybrid tug,” said Gary C. Faber, president and COO of Foss. “This is just the latest example of how Foss sits at the leading edge of maritime technology, engineering, and shipbuilding. As a company, we’re committed to maintaining our natural environment.”

At first glance, the new hybrid tug from Foss will look identical to its sister Dolphin-class tug boats; however, the hybrid tug will be quieter, cleaner, and much more fuel-efficient. In a recent press release, Foss reported that the new hybrid tug’s drive unit will be powered by two 670-horsepower battery packs and two 335-horsepower generators. The 5,000-horsepower hybrid tug will be used mainly in harbor assist services, moving larger vessels such as tankers and container ships in and out of the harbor.

Using the new hybrid technology, the tug will have three noticeable benefits. All emissions (nitrogen oxide, particulate emissions, sulphur dioxide, and carbon emissions) will be significantly reduced. Particulate emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions are estimated to reduce by 44 percent. The hybrid tug is also designed to consume less fuel by using different combinations of batteries, generators, and main engines to create required power levels and utilizing battery power when idling instead of running the main engines. Foss’ new hybrid tug will also be much quieter than its conventional counterparts, creating the benefit of noise reduction while running on battery power.

“This is exactly what the Clean Air Action Plan was intended to do—challenge companies operating in the ports to come up with better, cleaner ways of doing business—and Foss has come up with a great plan that benefits all of us,” said Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D., executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

Foss has scheduled the new hybrid tug to go into production later this year and expects to deliver the craft to Southern California ports in 2008. For more information on the Foss new hybrid tug, please visit the company’s Web site (

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