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17 Nov

6 More Facts about Tugboats

More facts about tugboats.

Tugboats are used for a wide variety of ocean towing needs, but a lot of people don’t seem to know much about them. We’ve actually provided some tugboat facts in the past, but we thought it might be a good idea to reiterate a few of these and add some brand new ones that we left out.

Tugboats can either push or pull.

Since the word “tug” means “to pull,” a lot of people are under the false impression that pulling is all tugboats can do. The truth is that a tugboat can be designed to either push or pull depending on the waterborne task at hand. To pull a vessel, they attach a tow line. To push, some of them are equipped with a “bumper” that makes direct contact with a barge or other large waterborne object.

Multiple Shapes and Sizes

While some tugboats are small, at just 50 feet in length, the largest ones can reach as much as 250 feet. In terms of power, they typically scale from approximately 4,000 horsepower to around 22,000 horsepower, with varying levels of bollard pull, engine type, versatility, etc. They also come in three different types of designs: conventional tugs, tractor tugs, and tugs with an Azimuth Stern Drive.

Tugboats Are Filled with Technology

The type of work tugboats are used for requires that they keep up with the latest technologies. This includes more advanced engine capabilities, navigational systems, and automated functionalities that are increasingly required to keep pace in the industry. There’s also an electric propulsion system being tested that will give tugboats zero-emission operation.

With Tugs, Size Does Matter

Perhaps the most amazing fact that people realize about tugboats is that they’re able to push or pull extremely large vessels despite their comparatively diminutive size. That being said, size does matter. In order for tugboats to move sizable waterborne objects such as barges or dead vessels, they need plenty of power, designated by both horsepower and bollard pull. They can even take on tandem jobs where either a single tugboat pulls multiple barges or two or more tugboats are used to pull something especially large.

It’s All About the Navigation

A lot of people wonder why tugboats are used to pull or push large vessels. If you’ve ever seen this happening in a waterway, it looks kind of funny, especially since the larger vessel clearly has its own source of power. While it’s true that tugboats pull barges and vessels that don’t have any power of their own, a big reason why they’re so popular is because of their navigational abilities. They can guide boats and other vessels through narrow canals and other areas with precision and ease.

Cartoon Tugboats Are Popular

Did you know that there have actually been a few TV shows with tugboats? Many people are familiar with a tugboat named Tugger because it was featured in the popular animated series South Park. The most popular, however, appears to be from a show called Theodore Tugboat, which aired as a Canadian children’s television series.

It was so popular, in fact, that a full size replica now sits on the dock at The Cable Wharf in Halifax Harbor. You may not see it pulling any barges anytime soon, but you can take a tour on Theodore in the summer.

For more information and tugboat facts, contact Dann Ocean Towing.

Dann Ocean Towing offers marine towingmarine construction support, salvage and rescue, and many other waterborne services along the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and around the globe. If you’d like to know more tugboat facts or have something that needs to be pushed or pulled, reach out to us at (813) 251-5100 today.