• Tampa, FL
  • Phone 813-251-5100
  • 3670 S West Shore Blvd. Tampa FL 33629
28 Nov

What Determines if a Barge is Pushed or Towed by a Tug Boat?

Will a barge be pushed or towed?

Barge towing is part of a very specialized and important industry that has served the entire world for several decades. In order to ensure that the barge itself and any crew on board the towing vessel stay safe, there are many different aspects involved with this type of waterborne project or job.

While it’s obvious that a barge is an extremely large object, it can be either pushed or towed by a tugboat, depending on the situation. To help you understand why, we’re going to take a look at the different factors involved, including location, design, experience, and more.

Tugboats Can Push or Tow a Barge

One thing to keep in mind is that while tugboats and towboats are similar, their pushing and pulling capabilities differ. Whereas towboats are often restricted to pulling (which seems counterintuitive given their name), tugboats are designed to either push or tow a barge or vessel. Many people who have seen barges being moved across the ocean or even close to harbors have probably noticed that they often get pulled. However, it is dependent on a few different factors…

How Location Influences the Decision

The first factor that determines whether a tugboat will push or pull a barge depends on where it’s happening. In many situations, a barge being moved across the ocean will be pulled using a tow line because there’s so much open space involved and not a lot of precision that’s needed. If a barge is being moved into a harbor or a tight passageway, on the other hand, then it’s often better to push it.

How Design Factors Influence the Decision

The design of a tugboat is the most important factor in deciding whether to push or pull a barge. Whereas a towboat isn’t designed specifically to push barges (though they can be used in this way if required), many tugboats include a sort of bumper that allows them to go up against the barge and give it a push. In some situations, the existence and condition of this bumper will factor into the decision of whether a barge will be pulled or pushed.

Experience and Expertise Matters, Too

The question of pushing or pulling a barge often doesn’t come down to location or design but rather to experience and expertise. After all, barge towing is a very specialized operation within a very specialized industry. Those with years of experience can take all factors into account, including a sort of gut feeling (which, if we’re being honest, comes from experience), to determine which way would be best for handling the barge’s movement.

How a Tugboat Moves a Barge Safely

When someone outside of the towing industry sees a barge being either pushed or pulled, it looks like an amazing feat because of how large it is. The reason why this type of operation is not only possible but also safe is because tugboats are designed to navigate at low speeds and in narrow spaces. Once a barge has been moved into a port, it will be decided whether it will be pushed or pulled into the actual dock.

Three Types of Tugs for Moving Barges

In order to conduct a barge towing operation, a reputable towing company will have multiple tugboats in their fleet. They will range in size, bollard pull, and horsepower to ensure that every operation is successful. There are three different types of tugboats that may be in this fleet: conventional tugs (diesel engine, propellers, low-maintenance), tractor tugs (better versatility and agility), and ones using an azimuthal stern drive (a mix of the first two).

Dann Ocean Towing Can Help With All Your Barge Towing Needs

Dann Ocean Towing conducts barge towing, marine construction support, and other ocean towing needs throughout the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and around the world. If you have any questions or are in need of our services, reach out to us at (813) 251-5100 today to schedule a free consultation.