As far as we can determine, these two plug-in hybrids are the world’s first electric fire-fighting boats, delivered by Dutch shipyard Damen to Flotte Hamburg, a subsidiary of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) tasked with implementing low-emission shipping in the city.
With 315 kWh of battery capacity, the boats are capable of extended, fully-electric, emissions-free operations in and around the Port of Hamburg. One of the boats, ‘Dresden‘, will support the HPA, the fire service and other third parties while the other vessel, ‘Prag‘, will be operated by the Hamburg’s city fire department.
The boats are compact and nimble for fireboats, each with a length of 35.5 metres and maximum speed of 12 knots. That enables them to take on duties beyond fire-fighting, like water supply, rescue and recovery, technical assistance and environmental protection.
Electric fire-fighting boats perform multiple duties
In addition, they have a draught of just 1.5 metres and can lower their wheelhouses to undertake bridge inspections and maintenance within the city, as well as serve locations that larger vessels would be unable to reach. Extra versatility comes from the ability to position mission containers on deck for additional fire-fighting equipment and day accommodation for up to 16 firefighters.
We didn’t know this, but fire fighting systems are referred to as ‘Fi-Fi’ in the trade, and the Dresden and Prag systems include remote operation capability, foam pump and control systems, a pre-wetting system, a water spray system around the vessels and internal fire-fighting capability using a Stat-X aerosol fire suppression system.
The hulls for the electric fire-fighting boats were fabricated at Damen Shipyards Kozle in Poland and then transported to Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld in the Netherlands for completion.
Electric and hybrid propulsion continues to make inroads in the large-workboat market. The world’s first all-electric tugboat went into the water in Turkey in September 2020, although the first one ordered was in 2019 in New Zealand. Electric refuse collection barges are helping clean up the canals of Venice in more ways than one, and in London, hybrid pilot boats are now escorting large ships along one of the world’s trickiest waterways – the Thames River from Gravesend to Tower Bridge.
The boats were originally commissioned in January, 2019 and Jeroen van Woerkum, sales manager at Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld said “These were already highly complex vessels, and the hybrid propulsion introduced yet another level of complexity. However the cooperation with Flotte Hamburg was very close and when COVID struck, all the parties worked together to overcome the issues that arose.”