Boluda upgraded tug meets new NOx rules

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 13 January 2020


Boluda Towage Europe has announced that it has voluntarily upgraded one of its existing tugs to meet the NOx Tier III emissions standard as ports look for cleaner operations.

On 10 January 2020, Boluda Towage Europe’s 2009-built tugboat Union Koala was officially certified for compliance with the IMO Tier III standards. The converted tug returned to service during a ceremony at the ABC Tower in Zeebrugge, Belgium.


Boluda Towage Europe claims it has passed a new milestone and is the first towage company in Europe to convert an existing tugboat to one complying with the IMO Tier III standards by adding an SCR system. The company embarked on this project together with engine supplier Anglo Belgian Corporation with the aim of reducing shipping emissions and addressing local port authorities’ demand for cleaner operations in the port area.

Gert Van Den Steene, Manager Aftersales Department of Anglo Belgian Corporation said, “The project posed quite a challenge – in that we needed to set up and install a complete SCR system on board an existing tug with a complex engine room, while retaining the tug’s operational and practical functions”.

The decision to select Union Koala was based on the available space in the tugboat’s engine room for installing the SCR system. In addition, Union Koala is still in service in Zeebrugge’s port area: the Zeebrugge port authorities attach strong importance to sustainability and promote reducing vessels’ environmental footprint.

Boluda Towage Europe’s CEO Geert Vandecappelle said “As a long-term partner of the Port of Zeebrugge, Boluda Towage Europe has committed itself through this project to the port authority’s environmental objectives. I am proud that through a joint effort, our technical department, Anglo Belgian Corporation and Flanders Ship Repair have brought this challenging project to a successful conclusion”.

When it comes to its sustainability policy, Boluda Towage Europe has not only limited itself to this initiative. The company also contributes to the reduction of shipping emissions in other European ports. At present, Boluda’s operational fleet includes five hybrid tugboats: RT Adriaan, RT Evolution, RT Emotion, Adventure and Experience. The company will be exploring further opportunities to increase sustainability in the near future.

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