May 2012 saw the operational debut of the revolutionary ECOtug®, SVITZER GAIA. Operating out of Gothenburg, she completed her first assignments with flying colours.

The operational deployment of the SVITZER GAIA marks a number of design firsts that benefit both our customers, the environment, the crew and, ultimately, SVITZER. The ECOtug is based on the design of the SVITZER M-class tugs and is fitted with additional features making the ECOtug the world’s most environmentally friendly tug - and the first tug ever to meet the IMO TIER III requirements that come into effect in 2016.

SVITZER GAIA also sets a world record, as it is the smallest tug ever built with dieselelectric propulsion. Never has such a small vessel been fitted with the highly flexible engine plant. The three-engine plant is a vital contributor to the tug’s environmental flexibility, allowing the tug to only ever use the exact amount of power needed for the job at hand. As a result the overall noise level and emission of NOx and particulate matters has been drastically reduced. The engine plant works via a power management system, which can be set in several preset modes offering different combina-tions of power. It can be harbour sailing, economic sailing, towing or fire fighting. The preset modes can easily be switched from touch screens in the wheelhouse by the captain. SVITZER GAIA can go up to 14.3 knots with all engines in use which is significantly faster than the average maximum speed of 12.5 knots of a traditional M-class tug. Despite its impressive 4.671 kW outtake the fuel economy has been improved by up to 10 percent.

The engine room of the ECOtug is quite crowded, not least thanks to the SCR (selective catalyst reaction) and a particulate filter fitted alongside the three engines. To make room for all this, the hull of the ECOtug has been extended 1.2 meters compared with its M-class sisters.

This has the positive side effect that crew accommodation has become more spacious, providing each of the four cabins on board with its own bathroom inside the cabin and larger mess room.

The use of an electrical propulsion system provides another environmental feature on SVITZER GAIA and her sister ECOtug SVITZER GEO: Electric winches on deck. Using electric towing winches on deck eliminates another possible safety risk and pollution threat, namely hydraulic oil spills. Traditional towing winches contain a rather large amount of hydraulic oil, posing a potential risk if a pipe bursts during operation. These features, and a host of others, all add up to justify the ECOtug’s claim to be the most environmentally friendly tug in the world. The beautiful blue, Scandinavian summer skies under which the SVITZER GAIA performed her first operations were nothing but appropriate.

Read more about the ECOtug and watch the innovation spot at Or visit SVITZER’s youtube channel where you will find this and other interesting SVITZER films:


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