PORTS of Auckland has welcomed the world’s first full-size, ship handling electric tugboat to its fleet as part of its goal to be emissions free by 2040.

The new e-tug, affectionately named Sparky following a public vote in New Zealand, is expected to enable Ports of Auckland to save around 465 tonnes of carbon dioxide in diesel emissions each year.

Ports of Auckland CEO Roger Grey said the arrival of Sparky was an exciting day for the port.

“Her arrival marks a big step towards the ports’ decarbonisation of operations and towards our long-term emissions reduction goals.”


The anticipated cost of operating the e-tug is less than a third of the cost of running a diesel tug. As a battery-operated vessel, the tug has a charge time of around two hours and can run up to four shipping moves on one charge.

The e-tug project was led by Allan D’Souza, general manager marine and multi cargo at Ports of Auckland. He said delivering the vessel was a six-year process.

“Back in 2016 when we first pitched the idea for a fully electric tug, we were told we were dreaming. To finally welcome her to [the city of] 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” Mr D’Souza said.

“What you won’t notice is noise or smoke; being electric she’s a lot quieter and cleaner than our current diesel tugs.”

Mr Gray said the e-tug will undergo six weeks of testing in Auckland before being fully commissioned and operational.