How do Tugboats Pull Barges?
When large ships or barges need to be moved in certain areas, especially into or out of port, they call on the assistance of a tugboat. These vessels conduct ship and barge transportation by towing, pushing, and guiding them.
Although they appear tiny, tugboats can move boats a thousand times their size. How can they move such large barges and other vessels safely? Today, we’re going to give you a quick overview of what tugboats are used for, how they pull barges and boats safely, and other pertinent details.
What Tasks Are Tugboats Used For?
The primary function of a tugboat is to assist a large vessel through narrow areas. They also assist with docking, mooring, and guiding in inclement weather. In addition to boat and barge towing, they can also move rigs and other floating equipment that cannot propel itself, carry firefighting equipment when the need arises, act as ice breakers, and assist in salvage operations. As you can see, these small vessels are very flexible and functional in the variety of tasks they offer and perform.
How Do Tugboats Pull Barges Safely?
Tugboats come in a variety of engine sizes and can be paired with other tugboats, as needed, to move large ships and barges. The reason tugboats can safely pull barges is because they can effectively navigate at low speeds and in tight spaces. Due to their size and design, they have a high degree of agility which allows them to move a barge or other vessel along the safest route to the port.
Once a single tugboat or multiple tugboats have moved a barge or vessel into port, they can either tow using a tow line or push it into dock. If a tow line is needed, this can be done with either direct or indirect towing. With direct towing, the tugboat pulls the large vessel straight ahead. When indirect towing is needed, the tugboat acts as a rudder as the barge or ship moves along.
Three Traditional Types of Tugboats
Towing companies typically have tugboats with a variety of horsepower sizes. The design of tugboats has changed quite a bit over the past several decades, and there are three different types of tugboats you may come across:
- Conventional Tugs — These tugboats are powered with a diesel engine and use propellers with nozzles and rudders that help them maneuver. These tugs are simple in design, low-maintenance, and proven to be effective.
- Tractor Tugs — Tractor tugs are more versatile and agile than the conventional type. They also have a lower risk of capsizing and can operate sideways, which some conventional tugboats cannot accomplish.
- Azimuthal Stern Drive (ASD) — This particular type of tugboat is more or less a healthy mix of conventional tugs and tractor tugs. They have a high degree of bollard pull, shallow draft, and better stability at speed.
The Potential Future of Tugboats
Tugboats have advanced over the past several decades, and one of the most expected evolution in the industry is the use of an electric propulsion system. These zero-emission tugboats have the potential to revolutionize the industry, but it’s likely to be several years before you see them in regular usage. Just like with traditional tugboats, they will come in a variety of bollard pull capabilities, which is very exciting, to say the least.
Contact Dann Ocean Towing for Barge Transportation
Dann Ocean Towing has a large fleet of tug boats to handle a variety of barge transportation needs and other waterborne operations. If you have any questions about our barge towing, tow services, emergency services, or fleet specifications, give us a call at (813) 251-5100 today for a few consultation.