Sparky, New Zealand’s Electric Tug

The people have spoken! The world’s first full-size electric ship-handling tug will be called Sparky.​

In 2019, Ports of Auckland, New Zealand, announced the purchase of an electric tug, the first in the world, as part of its effort to become zero emission by 2040.

The RSD-E Tug 2513 is the world’s first fully-electric ship-handling tug, with 70 tonnes bollard pull.

Sparky is being built in Vietnam, by Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards. The steel cutting ceremony was held earlier this month and the keel is expected to be laid down in July. The tug will take around a year to build and after testing will be delivered to Auckland in late 2021.

“It’s a big deal for us, but it’s also a big deal for New Zealand that we’re leading the way in this innovation. So, we wanted to share that with the country, and that’s why we asked Kiwis to come up with a name,” the port writes in its June newsletter.

There were more than 3,000 submissions and the most popular name sent in was Sparky. Other ideas included Tuggy McTugface, Ashley Bloomfield, Electric Disco Biscuit, The Fighting Queen of Covid, Doug and many more. When it came down to the final vote, it was the same: nearly half of the over 8,000 people who voted, picked Sparky.


The port thinks it’s a fitting name. It’s fun, full of energy and memorable—just like its new tug. The port will be welcoming Sparky to Auckland next year.