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3.8 Tug Use

Captain Henk Hensen

When ships are assisted by tugs, experience, 3.8.1 Tug Types

teamwork, optimum communication and, above all,
insight into the capabilities and limitations of the ships TYPE OF TUG
and attending tugs are essential for safe and efficient
tug operations and shiphandling. These requirements
apply to the tug captain and his crew as well as to the
pilot and the shipmaster. Propulsion forward Propulsion aft

There is a trend towards increasingly powerful

harbour and terminal tugs and more manoeuvrable Tractor tugs Conventional
modern vessels. This is leading to a reduction in tugs
the number of tugs used to assist those ships, so
their role has become even more crucial. Ships have with
become larger and, consequently, safety margins Voith Schneider
in ports have decreased. Engine failures happen ASD-tugs
frequently in ports and port approaches. For
these reasons, adequate tug assistance in ports is a
necessity. with
Azimuth propellers Combi tugs
Only when the tug team, pilot and shipmaster are
fully aware of the capabilities and limitations of tugs in
Figure 1 - Main types of harbour tug
general and of a specific tug type where appropriate,
including the effects on an assisted ship, are they able Main tug types
to utilise the tugs in the safest and most effective
way and in harmony with a ship’s manoeuvring Voith Schneider tugs
characteristics. These tugs have two Voith Schneider propulsion units
Several accidents have happened due to a lack of under the forebody. In Figure 2a, the propulsion units
proper insight into the capabilities and, in particular, and the large skeg of a Voith Schneider tug are clearly
the limitations of tugs, sometimes with dramatic shown.
consequences for the tug crew.
The increasing use of simulation for research and
training purposes does not remove the requirement
for an in-depth knowledge of tug capabilities and
limitations. It is only when combining such knowledge
with simulator-based training that results that are
safely applicable to daily practice, and that form a
contribution to safe shiphandling, can be achieved.
The tug world is fast changing, although the basic
principles for tugs and tug operations have not
changed that much. The aim of this chapter is to
give some basic insight into tugs and tug use. More
detailed information can be found in the book ‘Tug
Use in Port. A Practical Guide’. The references and
publications mentioned at the end of this chapter may Figure 2a - Voith Schneider tractor tug
be used to increase knowledge of the subject.


Azimuth tractor tugs

These have two thrusters under the forebody.

Figure 4 - Conventional twin screw tugs with fishtail rudders

and controllable pitch propellers
Source: Gerben den Hartog, Damen Shipyards

Figure 2b - Azimuth tractor tug ATD 2412 ASD-tugs (Azimuth Stern Drive tugs)
Source: Damen Shipyards <Do we have permission?>
These have two thrusters under the stern. In the
The thrusters can turn 360° and consist of a propeller same way as azimuth tractor tugs, the thrusters can
inside a nozzle. The propellers can be either fixed or turn 360° and consist of a propeller inside a nozzle.
controllable pitch propellers. Propellers can be either fixed or controllable pitch
(see Figure 5).
The azimuth tractor shown in Figure 2b seems to
have a small skeg. However, this new type of azimuth ASD-tugs may have a bow winch and a stern winch,
tractor tug has two fins (a double skeg). although this is not always the case (see Figure 7).
Sometimes the stern winch is an option.
Conventional tugs
These are still built in large numbers. They can be
single screw, twin screw or triple screw tugs. The
propellers mostly turn in nozzles, which may be
steerable. The tugs are fitted with various types of
rudders behind the propellers (see Figure 4). There
can be up to five rudders for each propeller, eg three
behind the propeller and two forward of it, known
as flanking rudders (see Figure 3). Propellers can be
either fixed or controllable pitch.

Figure 5 - Thrusters with controllable pitch propellers on an

Source: Olivier Marcus, Damen Shipyards

If working over the bow, as a reverse tractor tug,

ASD-tugs are comparable to azimuth tractor tugs.
If working over the stern, the tugs are comparable to
conventional tugs.
Performance over the bow and over the stern can
Figure 3 - Conventional twin screw tug with two flanking vary greatly between the various ASD-tug designs.
rudders before the propellers
Source: Hans Akkerboom


Combi-tugs capabilities than standard tractor tugs (see Figure 8).

These are conventional single or twin screw tugs with The ROTOR-tug can operate over the bow as well
an azimuth thruster as the bow thruster. as over the stern. ROTOR-tugs can be found in
ports in Western Europe, West Africa and Northern Other tug types Australia.
Z-tech tug SDMs or ATTs (Ship Docking Modules or
This tug type was originally developed for the Port Asymmetric Tractor Tugs)
of Singapore. At the time of publication, 62 Z-techs These tugs have one azimuth thruster forward and one
were either under construction or operating. aft located some distance out of the tug’s centreline, as
well as one to starboard and another to port.
Although the underwater profile of a Z-tech looks
somewhat similar to that of an ASD-tug (see This type of tug does not belong to any type
Figures 6 and 7), it is better compared to an azimuth mentioned in Figure 1 (see Figure 9) and only a few
tractor tug (ATT). Both tug types can sail ‘skeg first’ have been built.
and ‘thrusters first’, and both tug types carry out
shiphandling only by the towing winch and towing
staple at the skeg end, which is the bow for the Z-tech
tug and the stern for the ATT. The Z-tech tug and
several tractor tugs can manoeuvre well with the skeg
end under the flare or overhanging stern of a ship.

Figure 8 - Profile of SDM

Figure 6 - Z-tech tug

Source: Cheoy Lee Shipyards, Hong Kong

Figure 9a - ROTOR-tug
Source: KOTUG, Rotterdam

Figure 7 - ASD-tug 3213

Source: Damen Shipyards, The Netherlands

These tugs are, in fact, tractor tugs with a dynamic
skeg, being a third azimuth thruster, resulting in
a higher manoeuvrability and larger ship assist Figure 9b - ROTOR-tug
Source: KOTUG, Rotterdam


EDDY RAVE tug concept

This is a new tug type with one azimuth thruster This is a new tug concept with one Voith propulsion
forward and one aft, located in the tug’s centreline unit forward and aft, located in the centreline of the
(see Figure 10). The tug can be equipped with two tug. The tug has also a large skeg.
towing points on the aft deck and it has extensive
ship assisting capabilities. This tug type does not 3.8.2 Bollard Pull of Various Tug Types
belong to any of the tug types mentioned in Figure 1 A pilot should know the bollard pull of the tugs he is
and there is not yet one in operation. using. Bollard pull in various directions differs by tug
type, and there is also a difference in the relationship
between bollard pull and installed power. A general
guideline is shown in Figure 12.

Tug propulsion BP BP
type in tons/100 bhp in tons/100 kW
Voith Schneider tug 1.0 - 1.15 1.35 - 1.55
ASD-tugs 1.15 - 1.35 1.55 - 1.8
Conventional twin 1.25 - 1.5 1.7 - 2.0
screw tugs with fixed/
controllable pitch
propellers in nozzles
Figure 10 - New tug concept EDDY Figure 12 - Ranges in relationship between brake horsepower
Source: Baldo Dielen Associates Ltd and bollard pull for different tug types

Conventional tugs with fixed pitch propellers in

nozzles have an astern thrust (or bollard pull) that is
about 65% of the ahead bollard pull.
Conventional tugs with controllable pitch propellers
in nozzles have an astern bollard pull that is about
45% of the ahead bollard pull.
Specific nozzles that give relatively good astern
efficiency are available and often used.
ASD-tugs have an astern bollard pull that is about
90 - 95% of the ahead bollard pull.

Nozzles increase thrust and, consequently,

bollard pull. The effect of a nozzle is most
pronounced with high propeller loads at
Figure 11 - DOT-tug ‘Ugie Runner’ low speeds, which is the way harbour tugs
Source: Macduff Ship Design, UK
operate. Nozzles increase thrust by 15 - 25% in towing
DOT-tug and pushing conditions.
A tug with a DOT (dynamic oval towing) system
has a heavy rail around the deckhouse along which Voith Schneider tugs, azimuth tractor tugs, ROTOR-
the towing hook (or towing point) can travel (see tugs, EDDY tugs and SDMs have almost the same
Figure 11). The system allows the tug to turn in any bollard pull ahead and astern.
direction with the towline fastened and, consequently,
The sideways thrust of Voith Schneider tugs and
it can pull over the bow or stern without releasing
azimuth tractor tugs is around 65%.
the towline. Furthermore, the system prevents
capsizing of the tug when the towline under high ROTOR-tugs claim 95% sideways thrust and, for an
tension comes at right angles to the tug. A carousel tug EDDY tug and an SDM, this will be 100%.
has more or less the same system. A small number of Sideways thrust is an indication of performance
DOT-tugs have been built, with the largest having a with respect to speed of side stepping and sideways
length of 23 m. pushing performance.



For shiphandling it is important to know the astern The advantages of having tugs operating at the ship’s
bollard pull of the assisting tugs, which is generally side are:
much less than the ahead bollard pull.
● Securing tugs and tug operations are less risky
Modern harbour tugs may have a bollard pull of more
● tug operations for shiphandling are less
than 90 tons. As ASD-tugs are mostly operating over
the bow, it should be noted that the astern bollard
pull may be 10% less than the ahead bollard pull. ● all tugs fastened alongside can assist in
braking ship’s speed, although the effect of
3.8.3 Capabilities and Limitations of the Main conventional tugs is low on astern
Types of Tugs
● tug response times are short. Ship assist methods Differences in capabilities of the main
The capabilities and limitations of a tug are important tug types
to the way it assists a ship. Knowing the capabilities and limitations of the
There are two methods of ship assistance; tugs either assisting tugs is vital for safe and efficient shiphandling.
tow on a line fastened to the bow or stern of the There are various designs of each tug type, which
assisted ship or they operate at the ship’s side. Many may result in a different performance profile for a
different combinations are possible. particular tug, so such differences should also be
The advantages of having tugs towing on a line
fastened at the bow and stern of a ship rather than It is also necessary to understand what the ‘towing
operating at the ship’s side are: point’ is:
● The lever between the point of application The towing point is the point (fairlead, towing
of the towing forces of the forward and aft bitt, towing staple, towing hook) from where the
tug is at its maximum, so the tugs are more towline leaves the tug into the direction of the
effective in turning the vessel assisted ship. The towing point can be fixed, or
● the distance between the point of application flexible in the case of a gob rope or comparable
of towing forces to the ‘pivot point’ is longer system or in the case of a DOT system.
● there is little or no loss of towing effectiveness The horizontal and vertical position of the towing
due to propeller wash hitting the ship’s hull point should always be seen in conjunction with the
● the tugs have a good view of ship movements positions of the propulsion and the centre of pressure
and can anticipate when they will be needed of the hydrodynamic forces working on the tug hull

● the ship’s path width can be reduced to a The importance of these three locations and their
minimum, which is an advantage when passing relationship are discussed below. Further information
through locks or under bridges can be found within reference 1.
● the ship can be berthed with port side or
starboard side alongside. A bow tug can easily
operate to both sides, which also applies to
stern tugs with Voith Schneider or azimuth
propulsion units
● tugs towing on a line can better cope with
wave conditions.
Disadvantages are:
Figure 13 - Comparison between a conventional tug and a
● Tug operations close to the bow of a ship tractor tug
having headway are risky
Figure 13 illustrates two types of tug: a tractor tug
● conventional stern tugs are not easily able to and a conventional tug.
brake a ship’s speed
T1 and T2 are the locations of the towing points and
● changing from towing on a line to push-pull P1 and P2 the locations of the propulsion. It is these
during berthing is problematic for locations that create the difference between the two
conventional tugs. tug types.



The tractor tug represents all tugs with propulsion

units under the bow, which may be real tractor tugs
but may also be ASD-tugs operating over the bow
when operating as ‘reverse tractor tugs’.
The conventional tug represents all tugs with
propulsion units under the stern, which may be
conventional tugs but may also be ASD-tugs operating
over the stern like a conventional tug.
Stern Tugs
Figure 14C shows what a tractor tug (and an ASD-
tug operating over the bow) can do at a ship having
headway. The tug can operate at either the starboard
or port side.
Referring to Figure 14C, in positions 1a and 1b the
tug operates in the direct mode, which is possible
at lower speeds (below approximately 6 knots). In
position 1c, the tug is operating in the indirect mode.
This is effective at speeds higher than approximately Figure 14 - Capabilities and limitations of conventional tug
6 knots. The forces in the towline are then generated versus tractor tugs
by the hydrodynamic forces working on the tug’s The tractor tug, however, has to pull the tug’s body
hull. These forces increase with the ship’s speed. In against the incoming water flow. The increased engine
position 2, the tug can control the ship’s speed. power needed for this is at a cost to the force in the
Figure 14D shows that a conventional tug is very towline.
limited in its performance. It can only assist to one If the tractor tug is not able to come back in line with
side and the tug is unable to control the ship’s speed. the ship, it will swing around unless the towline can
This is very different to a tractor tug. be released by the quick release system.
Only at very low speeds, about 3 knots or less and For the conventional tug, the risk of girting also exists
if equipped with a gob rope system or a similar here (see position 1b).
operating system, can the tug provide steering
assistance to both ship sides. Controlling the ship’s From Figure 14, it can also be seen that it is easier for
speed is also then possible, providing it has a suitable a tractor tug to change to the push-pull method near
gob rope system and/or it is of the twin screw type the berth than for a conventional tug. The tractor
(see reference 1). tug pushes with the stern, which is ineffective for the
conventional tug as it has to turn and push with the
For the conventional tug, the risk of girting exists. bow.
Careful manoeuvring by the tug master and pilot is,
therefore, always required. It can be seen from the foregoing that there is a
large difference in performance between a tractor
Bow Tugs tug (including a reverse tractor tug = an ASD-tug
At the bow, the two tug types differ in effectiveness operating over the bow) and a conventional tug
and safety of operations. Both tugs can give steering (including an ASD-tug operating over the stern),
assistance to both sides. The tractor tug of Figure and also that the safety risks are much smaller for
14A is less effective than the conventional tug of a tractor tug. These differences are important and
Figure 14B because, due to the location of the towing should be understood.
point, the conventional tug can be turned in such a
Pushing and pulling at the ship’s side
way that the hydrodynamic forces working on the tug
hull will create an additional force in the towline. To exert pushing forces at a ship having headway, it
is not always necessary to work at right angles to the



The tug in Figure 15 is keeping position at an effective By lengthening the towline, the negative effect can be
angle with the ship’s hull because the incoming minimised, and this may be necessary for high-sided
waterflow generates a fairly high pushing force. ships and strong onshore winds.
The magnitude of the force depends on the tug’s
underwater hull form and skeg, and it increases with
the ship’s speed.
Omnidirectional propulsion units, such as Voith
Schnieder propulsion or azimuth thrusters, can
exert higher pushing forces than conventional tugs
because of their effective propulsion systems. They
are much more capable of working at right angles to
a ship having speed ahead or astern. When pulling is
required at a ship having speed ahead or astern, tugs
with omnidirectional propulsion are again much more Figure 16 - Coanda effect
flexible and effective. Another aspect is the tug’s effectiveness on the
ship when the ship has headway. The centre of
hydrodynamic pressure at a ship having headway
is located near the bow. A tug pushing near the
forepart of the ship will create a turning moment
and a sideways movement, which will be opposed by
the centre of hydrodynamic pressure near the bow.
This results in a low pushing effectiveness. If the tug
pushes at the stern, the resistance near the bow due
to hydrodynamic pressure will assist in the turn.
The Coanda effect, as shown in Figure 16, can cause
a ship to move in the opposite direction, particularly
in the case of a very short towline and a deep loaded
vessel with a low underkeel clearance.
Tug Type and Interaction
The forces and turning moments working on a tug
Figure 15 - Pushing force created by hydrodynamic force on a
due to interaction effects between a proceeding
tug’s hull ship and a tug travelling along that ship are shown in
Figure 17. The higher the ship’s speed and the smaller
3.8.4 Capabilities and Limitations of Other the distance between tug and ship, the larger these
Tug Types effects are.
The other tug types have briefly been dealt with in Speed is a very important factor because interaction
Sections and 3.8.2. Development continues effects increase by the square of the ship’s speed.
on hull and skeg design, winches, towlines, Most important, and most risky, is the situation that
environmentally friendly engines, etc. occurs near the bow. As can be seen at positions
4 and 5, the turning moment may suddenly change
3.8.5 Effective Tug Locations and Loss of
from outward to inward. If a tug Master is not alert,
Pulling Effectiveness
the tug will turn towards the bow, with a risk of
This is an important subject. Tugs should always be being overrun by the ship. Careful attention must be
located in the most effective place for the operation. given as this is typically the position where tugs are
Section discussed aspects such as the largest preparing to make fast the towline connection.
turning moment by tugs towing at a line fastened to
If a tug in position 4 is approaching the ship to pass
the bow and stern of a ship and the loss of pulling
a towline, the suction forces increase and, at a
effectiveness due to the propeller wash hitting the
certain moment, the tug Master may find it safer to
ship’s hull. With respect to the latter, it should be
manoeuvre at a somewhat larger distance from the
well understood that a short towline and a low
ship. With conventional tugs and ASD-tugs operating
underkeel clearance have the largest negative effect!



over the stern, it may then become impossible to For this reason escorting tractor tug types or
manoeuvre free from the ship because, to move away ASD-tugs are generally used.
from the ship, the rudders or thrusters have to be set
In Figure 18, all the forces working on a tractor tug
to port, pushing the stern of the tug even closer to
escorting in the indirect mode are shown, as well
the ship. The increase of propeller thrust will worsen
as the location of the propulsion, the skeg and the
the situation.
towing point exactly above the skeg. For escorting in
Tractor tugs (and ASD-tugs operating over the bow) the indirect mode, the underwater hull form and skeg
can more safely overcome the interaction forces of the tug are very important for generating forces in
because, when these tugs want to move away from the towline due to the hydrodynamic forces working
the ship, their propulsion units will push the tug into on the tug. With respect to this, the location skeg is
the safe direction. also very important for shifting the centre of pressure
as far as possible into the direction of the towing
point. The consequence is that less engine power is
needed for keeping the tug in an effective position
and a higher towline force is required.

Figure 17 - Interaction effects on a tug when proceeding along a

ship having speed

In the case of bow-to-bow operations with ASD-tugs,

the tugs may approach the bow in different ways
while the same interaction effects play a role.
There are, however, other safety aspects playing
a role. ASD-tugs operating bow-to-bow should
be capable of operating safely with speed astern.
There is a large difference in design driven astern
performance so the capabilities of the ASD-tugs
operating bow-to-bow should be well known
(Reference 2).
In addition, there is the risk of an engine failure when
an ASD-tug is approaching the bow head-on or when
the tugs are operating bow-to-bow. This is a reason
why the ship’s speed should not be too high and the
towline should not be too short (Reference 3).
The interaction effects near the bow of a ship vary
by ship type, draught, trim and keel clearance, and
increase by the square of ship’s speed. When tugs
are making fast at the bow, or are fastened to the
Figure 18 - Tractor tug assisting a tanker in the indirect mode
bow, the ship should be proceeding at a safe speed
(Reference 3). For an ASD-tug, the underwater hull form and the
skeg are of the same importance.
The recommended maximum speed is 6 knots,
although for some tractor tugs, such as ROTOR-tugs, In the direct mode, which is applied at speeds below
speed may be somewhat higher. It is the tug Master’s approximately 6 knots, the towline forces are created
experience that is crucial. by the tug’s propulsion.
Escorting Specific terminology is used for the different assisting
The capabilities of the different tug types play an modes (Reference 1).
important role for escorting and the capabilities of
conventional tugs acting as stern tugs are very limited.



Skegs including an upward view and a view on the

Skegs are important for shifting the centre of working deck, towing winch and tug sides.
pressure and for giving the tugs directional stability. The tug Master’s eye height should be such
that he has a good overview over his working
For example, ASD-tugs are equipped with skegs to area, the ship and the other tugs, even in
give the tugs directional stability when running astern, wave conditions
which is very important for bow-to-bow operations.
● a towing winch with capabilities suitable for
There is continuous modification and optimalisation the forces that can be generated by the tug
of tug skegs, often based on practical experience and the conditions the tug has to operate in.
during daily operations. This is observably the case A tension control system might be needed
with the later designs of the Z-tech tug and the
SDMs, where a hole in the skeg can be seen that was ● a safe working quick release device that also
not there before. works when the towline is under high tension

One of the latest developments is the azimuth tractor ● the tug’s superstructure must be constructed
tug with a twin-fin, a double skeg (Figure 19). in such a way that the tug can work under a
ship’s flare and overhanging stern
● a towline with a minimum breaking strength
of at least 3 x bollard pull
● a safe working deck
● doors and other openings to the outside
decks able to be closed watertight during
towing operations
● engine ventilation to be constructed in such a
way that the engine room cannot be flooded
in case of extreme heeling angles
● fenders with a proper radius and energy
absorbing capabilities that are suitable for the
tug’s mass and power, resulting in acceptable
pressures on a ship’s hull
Figure 19 - Azimuth tractor tug ATD 2412 with a double skeg ● in the case of ice conditions, the propulsion
Source: Damen Shipyards configuration should meet the requirements
Unique or Unused Tugs for operating in such conditions
If one of the lesser-known tug types comes to a port, ● a reliable and good working communication
the pilots should familiarise themselves with the system
tug’s capabilities and limitations before it becomes ● a functional and ergonomic wheelhouse
operational. This will require discussion with the tug
operator and, if possible, with the tug designer to ● manoeuvring stations with logical engine and
learn what the tug can and cannot do. However, it is rudder control
only during daily practice that the full capabilities and ● above all: an experienced tug crew!
limitations of the tug will be learnt.
3.8.7 Required Bollard Pull
3.8.6 General Requirements for Harbour Tugs
It is important to know the bollard pull needed to
A tug should be fit for purpose, taking into account handle a ship. It has become more important with the
the situation of the port and port approaches, increasing size of ships, particularly container ships,
environmental conditions, and type and size of ships but also bulk carriers, car carriers, ferries and cruise
to be handled. Some important requirements include: vessels.
● A good stability and reserve stability Some pilot organisations have computer programs
● an all around view at the manoeuvring that calculate the required bollard pull, as is the
station(s) that is as unobstructed as possible, case with the Rotterdam pilots. MARIN (Maritime



Research Institute Netherlands) has made such a outcome might be too low, although this does depend
program available to the market. on the type of LNG carrier.
Current forces cannot be fully compensated for by
There is a tendency toward the use of ever tugs. Nevertheless, two formulae are provided for an
stronger tugs that are not always needed. indication of total tug power required in the case of
In addition, many ships have bollards and cross currents.
fairleads that are not strong enough to
cope with the high towline forces generated. Approximation of required total tug bollard pull in
case of cross currents and an underkeel clearance
Two aspects should be considered with respect to of 20%:
the required bollard pull: Fc = 150 V2 LBP × T kgf
1. In the case of strong winds and high-sided In the case of an underkeel clearance of 10%:
ships, such as car carriers, container vessels
Fc = 185 V2 LBP × T kgf
and ferries, the forces working on the ship
have to be compensated for by the tugs. For a V = current velocity in m/sec.
number of reasons, total tug force should be
LBP = Length between perpendiculars in metres.
larger than the wind force alone. One reason
is that a drifting ship has to be stopped by the T = draught in metres.
tugs and, as quickly as possible, be pulled back An empirical formula for calculating total required
towards the planned position or track. This tug bollard pull for mass vessels such as loaded bulk
costs extra tug power. carriers, tankers, etc is:
2. In the case of loaded vessels, such as loaded displacement
bulk carriers and tankers, the tug should Required bollard pull tons = × 60 + 40
assist in steering, speed control and sideways
movements such as near the berth. It is then 3.8.8 Safe Procedures and Training
a matter of accelerations and decelerations.
The more power available, the faster the tugs A logical procedure is that the pilot and the ship’s
can execute the required manoeuvres. Captain, possibly in cooperation with the port
authority and towing company, judges whether the
In both cases, there may be a loss of tug pulling passage of a certain ship and her berthing/unberthing
power due to the tug’s propeller wash hitting the can be carried out in a safe way. A risk assessment
ship’s hull. will take into account the capabilities and limitations
For both situations, an approximation formula is of the tugs, the fairway characteristics, depths and
provided below. In the case of cross winds or cross environmental conditions such as currents, wind and
currents, the formulae should include a safety factor visibility. The required bollard pull should be assessed
of 20% for reasons mentioned. and the pilot, based on his knowledge of tugs, will
decide how tugs can be placed at the most effective
Approximation of total required tug bollard pull in positions, establishing the tug type that can be most
case of cross winds: effective as the stern tug for giving steering assistance
Fw = 0.08 V2 A L kgf or for controlling ship’s speed, or the tug that can
best be used forward.
V = wind velocity in m/sec.
AL = Longitudinal (broadside) wind area in m2 .
While this amendment appears a logical
Note: procedure, it can be learnt from accident
1. For the wind force, the wind speed in gusts reports that it is not common practice.
should be taken into account, eg a 30 second It is vital that the tug Master and his crew
or 1 minute average wind speed. have sufficient experience on the specific tug being
2. If calculating the wind force on a (partly) operated.
loaded tanker, the outcome of the formula is
approximately 30% too high because of the Based on interviews held in 2012 among tug Masters,
lower wind force coefficients. pilots and ship captains, the ‘Report on Safe Tug
For calculating wind forces on LNG carriers, the Procedures’ (Reference 3) was documented. The
formula should be handled with care because the practical recommendations contained in this report



highlight several safe procedures and should be of ● if ship speed is too high, it is recommended
great interest to everyone involved in shiphandling that the stern tug is secured first, if a stern
with tugs. The most relevant recommendations are: tug is used, and, when the ship speed has
dropped to an acceptable level, the forward
Safe speeds
tug(s) can then be secured
● Recommended safe ship speeds are:
● there must be safe and effective
– Maximum 6 knots for securing tugs at the communication procedures between pilots
bow and tug Masters. Communication should
– maximum 6-8 knots for securing include issues such as safe speeds, when
alongside and at the stern and where to make fast to the ship, SWL of
bollards and fairleads, intended manoeuvres,
● speed regulations are a very important aspect mooring details and all other relevant
of tug safety. It is strongly recommended information
that ports, towing companies and pilot
organisations create standards for safe speeds ● it should be made standard that a pilot
for tugs making fast to a ship having headway translates communications with the tugs into
and when fastened English, unless the ship captain speaks the
same language as the pilot.
● the capabilities and limitations of the tugs
should be known and taken into account, Training of tug Masters
as well as the weather conditions and tug ● Training of all tug Masters is vital and should
Master experience. include refresher courses. Training should
Safe tug procedures and communications include the capabilities and limitations of tug
types in use, safe procedures, safe speeds,
● Towing companies and tug Masters, if possible knowledge of interaction effects and their
together with pilots, should develop safe effect on tugs, teaching the right attitude
procedures for approaching a ship for picking (particularly for young tug Masters) and all
up a heaving line and for passing a towline. It is other important aspects of safe towing
recommended that these procedures include
an instruction that tugs only approach the ● training, regular refresher courses and
bow when the crew is ready competency checks should be carried out by
certified institutes and trainers



● interaction effects between tug and ship, [2] Bow-to-bow operations with azimuth stern
including pressure waves, should be replicated drive tugs. Risks and Effectiveness. Henk
in a realistic way in simulators used for Hensen FNI. The Nautical Institute, London.
training. Simulated interaction effects should UK. 2006.
be accurate for various hull forms, speeds,
[3] Report on Safe Tug Procedures. Captains
draughts, underkeel clearances, and tug
Henk Hensen FNI, Daan Merkelbach FITA
locations with respect to the attended ship
and F van Wijnen MNI. 2013.
and distances between tug and ship
[4] Flyer to the shipping industry. Wah Shan:
● regular meetings should be held between tug
Fatal injuries to a crewman while securing a
Masters and pilots, and groups of tug Masters,
tug’s tow wire. Marine Accident Investigation
so they can discuss all relevant matters with
Branch. Southampton, UK. July 2013.
respect to tug assistance
[5] Safe tug operation: Who takes the
● pilots should always alert tug Masters to
lead? Captain Henk Hensen FNI, FITA.
problems, such as ships with high Dead
International Tug & OSV. The ABR Company
Slow speeds, deep draught vessels, SWL of
Ltd, UK, July/August 2012.
bollards, poor seamanship on board ships
handled and any other relevant information. [6] The International Tug & OSV Training
Supplement, November/December 2013.
Training of pilots
● It is recommended that pilots (including PEC - [7] Recommendations for ships’ fittings for use
Pilot Exemption Certificate - holders) are with tugs. OCIMF. Updated: 08 July 2006.
trained on the same subjects as mentioned [8] Joint ETA-EMPA guidelines on design and
above. layout of harbour towage equipment. 2011
Safe procedures for shipping companies and 10215_best_
ship captains pract_final_rev_11.pdf
● Shipping companies and ship captains should [9] Websites of Accident Investigation Boards:
implement safe procedures for the securing
and releasing of tugs, including safe speeds,
use of suitable heaving lines, handling of
heaving lines and tow lines in a safe and Captain Henk Hensen
efficient way, SWL of bollards and fairleads,
proper bollard use with respect to towlines, Captain Henk Hensen is a Master Mariner FG
and keeping an eye on the tugs when and attained his Master’s certificate for all ships,
fastening and releasing. Ships’ crews should be unlimited, in 1964. After his career at sea, he
trained in all these issues. served as a Port of Rotterdam pilot for 23 years.
Safe tugs and safe operating modes Following his pilot career, he continued to work as
● The safety of bow tug operations can be a marine consultant on the nautical aspects of port
greatly improved by using tractor tug types studies, harbour tug advice, simulator training, etc.
and/or by using the push-pull system. As an author, his publications include ‘Ship Bridge
Simulators. A Project Handbook’ (1999), ‘Tug
Finally Use in Port’ (2003); the monograph ‘Bow Tug
● Learn from accidents. Operations with Azimuth Stern Drive Tugs’
(2006), and numerous articles in maritime
Not mentioned in the report, but of even greater magazines.
importance are:
Captain Hensen is a Fellow of the Nautical
● Training and safe procedures for tug Institute and the International Tugmasters
operations in fog. Association and a Member of the International
References and recommended reading Federation of Shipmasters.
[1] Tug use in Port. A practical Guide. 2nd Edition In 2010, he was elected as tug personality of the
2003. Henk Hensen FNI. The Nautical year by the British Tugowners Association.
Institute. London, UK.