A tugboat is a type of vessel that maneuvers other vessels by pushing or pulling them either by direct contact or by means of a tow line. Tugs typically move vessels that either are restricted in their ability to maneuver on their own, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal, or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, log rafts, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going. Some tugboats serve as icebreakers or salvage boats. Early tugboats had steam engines, but today most have diesel engines. Many tugboats have firefighting monitors, allowing them to assist in firefighting, especially in harbors.
Seagoing tugs (deep-sea tugs or ocean tugboats) fall into four basic categories:
Compared to seagoing tugboats, harbour tugboats are generally smaller and their width-to-length ratio is often higher, due to the need for a lower draught. In smaller harbours these are often also termed lunch bucket boats, because they are only manned when needed and only at a minimum (captain and deckhand), thus the crew will bring their own lunch with them. The number of tugboats in a harbour varies with the harbour infrastructure and the types of tugboats. Things to take into consideration include ships with/without bow thrusters and forces like wind, current and waves and types of ship (e.g. in some countries there is a requirement for certain numbers and sizes of tugboats for port operations with gas tankers).
River tugs are also referred to as towboats or pushboats. Their hull designs would make open ocean operation dangerous. River tugs usually do not have any significant hawser or winch. Their hulls feature a flat front or bow to line up with the rectangular stern of the barge, often with large pushing knees.
Tugboat engines typically produce 500 to 2,500 kW (~ 680 to 3,400 hp), but larger boats (used in deep waters) can have power ratings up to 20,000 kW (~ 27,200 hp). Tugboats usually have an extreme power:tonnage-ratio; normal cargo and passenger ships have a P:T-ratio (in kW:GRT) of 0.35 to 1.20, whereas large tugs typically are 2.20 to 4.50 and small harbour-tugs 4.0 to 9.5. The engines are often the same as those used in railroad locomotives, but typically drive the propeller mechanically instead of converting the engine output to power electric motors, as is common for diesel-electric locomotives. For safety, tugboats' engines often feature two of each critical part for redundancy.
A tugboat is typically rated by its engine's power output and its overall bollard pull. The largest commercial harbour tugboats in the 2000s–2010s, used for towing container ships or similar, had around 60 to 65 short tons-force (530–580 kN) of bollard pull, which is described as 15 short tons-force (130 kN) above "normal" tugboats.
Tugboats are highly maneuverable, and various propulsion systems have been developed to increase maneuverability and increase safety. The earliest tugs were fitted with paddle wheels, but these were soon replaced by propeller-driven tugs. Kort nozzles (see below) have been added to increase thrust per kW/hp. This was followed by the nozzle-rudder, which omitted the need for a conventional rudder. The cycloidal propeller (see below) was developed prior to World War II and was occasionally used in tugs because of its maneuverability. After World War II it was also linked to safety due to the development of the Voith Water Tractor, a tugboat configuration which could not be pulled over by its tow. In the late 1950s, the Z-drive or (azimuth thruster) was developed. Although sometimes referred to as the Aquamaster or Schottel system, many brands exist: Steerprop, Wärtsilä, Berg Propulsion, etc. These propulsion systems are used on tugboats designed for tasks such as ship docking and marine construction. Conventional propeller/rudder configurations are more efficient for port-to-port towing.
The Kort nozzle is a sturdy cylindrical structure around a special propeller having minimum clearance between the propeller blades and the inner wall of the Kort nozzle. The thrust-to-power ratio is enhanced because the water approaches the propeller in a linear configuration and exits the nozzle the same way. The Kort nozzle is named after its inventor, but many brands exist.
The cycloidal propeller is a circular plate mounted on the underside of the hull, rotating around a vertical axis with a circular array of vertical blades (in the shape of hydrofoils) that protrude out of the bottom of the ship. Each blade can rotate itself around a vertical axis. The internal mechanism changes the angle of attack of the blades in sync with the rotation of the plate, so that each blade can provide thrust in any direction, similar to the collective pitch control and cyclic in a helicopter.
Tugboat fenders are made of high-abrasion-resistance rubber with good resilience properties. They are very popular with small port craft owners and tug owners. These fenders are compression moulded in high-pressure thermic-fluid-heated moulds and have excellent seawater resistance. Tugboat fenders are also call beards or bow pudding. In the past they were made of rope for padding to protect the bow.
A recent Dutch innovation is the CARROUSEL RAVE TUG, winner of the Maritime Innovation Award at the Dutch Maritime Innovation Awards Gala in 2006. The CARROUSEL RAVE TUG adds a pair of interlocking rings to the body of the tug, the inner ring attached to the boat, with the outer ring attached to the towed ship by winch or towing hook. Since the towing point rotates freely, the tug is very difficult to capsize.
Vintage Tugboat races have been held annually in Olympia, Washington since 1974 during the Olympia Harbor Days Maritime Festival (www.HarborDays.com). Tugboat races are held annually on Elliott Bay in Seattle, on the Hudson River at the New York Tugboat Race, the Detroit River, and the Great Tugboat Race and Parade (2012 event was on June 29–30) on the St. Mary's River.
Since 1980, an annual tugboat ballet has been held in Hamburg harbour on the occasion of the festival commemorating the anniversary of the establishment of a port in Hamburg. On a weekend in May, eight tugboats perform choreographed movements for about an hour to the tunes of waltz and other sorts of dance music.
The Tugboat Roundup is a gathering of tugboats and other vessels in celebration of maritime industry. The Waterford Tugboat Roundup It is held in the late summer at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers in Waterford, New York. The tugs featured are river tugs and other tugs re-purposed to serve on the New York State Canal System.
Tugboat Annie was the subject of a series of Saturday Evening Post magazine stories featuring the female captain of the tugboat Narcissus in Puget Sound, later featured in the films Tugboat Annie (1933), Tugboat Annie Sails Again (1940) and Captain Tugboat Annie (1945). The Canadian television series The Adventures of Tugboat Annie was filmed in 1957.
To date, there have been four children's shows revolving around anthropomorphic tugboats.
"Tugger" is a tugboat in the animated series South Park. He appears in the episode "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer" as a sidekick for Russell Crowe in a fictitious television series entitled Fightin' Round The World with Russell Crowe. Tugger follows Crowe as he engages various people in physical conflicts, providing emotional support and comic relief. At one point Tugger even attempts to commit suicide, upon being forced to hear Russell Crowe's new musical composition.
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Admiral Dewey, also known as Georgetown and today as Helen McAllister, is a 113 feet (34 m) tugboat built in 1900 at the Burlee Drydock in Port Richmond, New York. She was built with a 900 horsepower (670 kW) triple expansion compound steam engine which was replaced with a diesel engine after World War II. She towed coal barges to refuel ships in the harbor. In 1955, she was sold to a Charleston, South Carolina tugboat company. In the 1980s, the McAllister tugboat company of New York purchased the company and brought the renamed Helen McAllister back to New York harbor. She helped dock tall ships during Op Sail 1992.After retirement, she was donated to the South Street Seaport Museum in Manhattan in 2000. In 2012, Helen McAllister was returned to McAllister Towing, and is currently in Mariners Harbor, Staten Island.Anand-class tugboat
The Anand class tugboats are a series of service watercraft built by Goa Shipyard Limited (earlier part of Mazagon Dock Limited, Bombay), for the Indian Navy. Tugs of this class have a 6-tonne bollard pull.Anjan-class tugboat
The Anjan-class tugboats are a series of service watercraft built by Goa Shipyard Limited, earlier part of Mazagon Dock Limited, for the Indian navy.Arga-class tugboat
The Arga class of tugboats are a series of six service watercraft being built by Tebma Shipyard Limited (a subsidiary of Bharati Shipyard Ltd) in Malpe, for the Indian Navy.Balram class tugboat
The Balram class of tugboats is a series of service watercraft built by Goa Shipyard Limited for the Indian navy. Each tug in the class has a rated capacity of 20 tonnes bollard pull. They are powered by twin Kirloskar SEMT-Pielistick (8PA4 V200) of total 3,200 hp (2,400 kW). They are also fitted with three monitors for fire fighting. INS Bajrang and INS Balram are stationed at Mumbai.Bhim-class tugboat
Bhim class of tugboats are series of service watercrafts built by Tebma Shipyard Limited, a subsidiary of Bharati Shipyard Ltd, for Indian navy.Fearless (tugboat)
Fearless is a tugboat that is located in Birkenhead, South Australia, Australia.
She was built in Midland, Ontario, Canada in 1945 as the Rockwing, then renamed Tapline 2 (1948–49) and Abqaiq 3 (1949-1954). She received the name Fearless in 1954.Fearless was put up for sale in 1972 in Brisbane, Australia and bought by Keith LeLeu for $1. He sailed her to Port Adelaide in with a volunteer crew, taking nine days. Four months later LeLeu sold the ship, with other museum materials, to the National Trust of South Australia, again for $1. The collection was subsequently transferred to the History Trust of South Australia with the Fearless being transferred at a later date to a developer called Southern Sea Eagles.In 2017, Fearless was one of the ships considered in a study funded by Renewal SA about "a strategy for berthing or locating historic ships and vessels within the inner harbour of Port Adelaide."Forceful (tugboat)
Forceful is a sea-going tugboat built for the Queensland Tug Company by Alexander Stephen and Sons Ltd in Govan, Scotland in 1925. She worked at her homeport of Brisbane, Australia between 1926 and 1970 berthing ships and assisting nearby casualties. During World War II she was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in early 1942 as HMAS Forceful (W126), based at Fremantle and Darwin, until returning to commercial service in October 1943. She is preserved as a museum ship at Brisbane.Fred Ottman
Fred Alex Ottman (born August 10, 1956) is an American retired professional wrestler. He worked for the World Wrestling Federation from 1989 to 1993 under the ring names Tugboat and Typhoon. As the former, he played a key babyface ally of Hulk Hogan. As the latter, he turned heel to form The Natural Disasters with Earthquake and held the WWF Tag Team Championship.In 1993, he debuted as The Shockmaster in World Championship Wrestling and immediately fell over, losing his mask on live television while his teammates broke character and laughed. This botch hurt his career in the short term, but is now generally regarded as the worst debut in wrestling history, a notoriety he capitalized upon after his in-ring retirement.Gaj-class tugboat
The Gaj class offshore tugboats are a series of two auxiliary watercraft built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd., Kolkata, for the Indian Navy. The vessels in the class are Indian Navy's biggest tugboats and can be used for towing aircraft carriers.Luna (tugboat)
Luna is a historic tugboat normally berthed in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. Luna was designed in 1930 by John G. Alden and built by M.M. Davis and Bethlehem Steel. She is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. In 1985, the Luna was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission.
Luna is the last surviving full-sized wooden ship-docking tug on the US Gulf and Atlantic coasts and was the world's first diesel-electric tugboat built for commercial service. These two distinctions have led to designation of Luna as a US National Historic Landmark. Today Luna is preserved in Boston Harbor, where her rehabilitation process has been underway since the tug was rescued from being broken up in 1995. Luna is the responsibility of the Luna Preservation Society and its progress is recorded in their website. Due to her wartime service with a civilian crew, Luna is also a member of the Naval Historic Vessel Association.Madan Singh-class tugboat
The Madan Singh class of tugboats are series of service watercraft built by Tebma Shipyard Limited (a subsidiary of Bharati Shipyard Ltd), for Indian navy during 1999. Propulsion is provided by Voith Schneider Propellers. The Nakul-class tugboat is a follow-up order of the Madan Singh-class tugboat.Nash (tugboat)
Nash is a World War II U.S. Army Large Tug (LT) class seagoing tugboat built as hull #298 at Jakobson Shipyard, Oyster Bay NY as a Design 271 steel hulled Large Tug delivered November, 1943. Originally named Major Elisha K. Henson (LT-5), in 1946 she was renamed John F. Nash by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since retirement from the Corps of Engineers, LT-5 has been renamed Major Elisha K. Henson. As of the 1992 date of its listing as a National Historic Landmark, LT-5 was believed to be the last functional U.S. Army vessel that participated in Normandy landings, but at least one other survives.
LT-5 sailed to Great Britain in February 1944 in anticipation of Operation Overlord, the planned allied invasion Europe. On June 6, 1944, LT-5 sailed for Normandy with two barges as part of Operation Mulberry, in support of Overlord. Under fire, the tug ferried supplies to the landing beaches for the next month, in the process shooting down a German fighter aircraft on June 9.After the war, LT-5 returned to the United States. Assigned to the Buffalo District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 1946, LT-5 was renamed John F. Nash. Nash was the Buffalo District's Senior Engineer and Chief Civilian Assistant for the period 1932 to 1941. From 1946 to 1989, Nash served the lower Great Lakes region by assisting in the maintenance of harbors, and construction projects that included the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s.Renamed Major Elisha K. Henson, she has been largely restored to her original configuration by the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego, New York where she is currently on display. Tours are available Mid-May through the end of September. LT-5 was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992. A sister ship located at Kewaunee, Wisconsin, the Major Wilbur Fr. Browder (LT-4), now the Tug Ludington, is a museum ship which also served the U.S. Army at D-Day and otherwise has a similar history, which was listed on the National Register in 2002.Ned Hanlan (tugboat)
Ned Hanlan is a steam-powered tugboat that operated in Toronto Harbour in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The tugboat entered service in 1932 and was retired in 1967. She was then put on display at Exhibition Place. She was moved in 2012 to Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Islands; she is named after champion rower Ned Hanlan.Portland (1875 tugboat)
Portland was a steam tug built in Portland, Oregon, United States. This vessel was also known as Clayoquat and Phoenix.Theodore Tugboat
Theodore Tugboat is a Canadian children's television series about a tugboat named Theodore who lives in the Big Harbour with all of his friends. The show originated (and is set) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as a co-production between the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and the now defunct Cochran Entertainment, and was filmed on a model set using radio controlled tugboats, ships, and machinery. Production of the show ended in 2001, and its distribution rights were later sold to Classic Media (now DreamWorks Classics). The show premiered in Canada on CBC Television, then went to PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), was on Qubo in the United States, and at one time had appeared in eighty different countries.The show deals with life learning issues portrayed by the tugs or other ships in the harbour. Most often, the tugs have a problem, or get involved in a struggle with each other or another ship, but they always manage to help one another resolve these problems and see them through. Their main focus however, is to always make the Big Harbour the friendliest harbour in the world, and to always do a good job with their work related tasks.Tugboat Annie
Tugboat Annie is a 1933 American pre-Code film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, written by Norman Reilly Raine and Zelda Sears, and starring Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery as a comically quarrelsome middle-aged couple who operate a tugboat. Dressler and Beery were MGM's most popular screen team at that time, having recently made the bittersweet Min and Bill (1930) together, for which Dressler won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
The boisterous Tugboat Annie character first appeared in a series of stories in the Saturday Evening Post written by the author Norman Reilly Raine which were supposedly based on the life of Thea Foss of Tacoma, Washington. There is also a theory that her character is loosely based on Kate A. Sutton, secretary and dispatcher for the Providence Steamboat Company during the 1920s.Tugboat Annie also features Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan as the requisite pair of young lovers. Captain Clarence Howden piloted Annie's tugboat "Narcissus" (real name Wallowa), which was owned by Foss Tug and Barge of Tacoma and had been leased to MGM for the movie. Howden's son Richard Howden is seen rolling rope during the credits.
Filmed in Seattle, Washington, Tugboat Annie used local residents as extras, including then-mayor John F. Dore. The tugboat used in the film, renamed Arthur Foss in 1934, is the oldest wooden tugboat afloat in the world and remains preserved by Northwest Seaport in Seattle.Urger (canal tugboat)
Urger, originally named H.J. Dornbos, is a historic canal tugboat located at Waterford in Saratoga County, New York. She was built in 1901 by Johnson Brothers Shipyard and Boiler Works of Ferrysburg, Michigan. She was purchased for service on the New York State Barge Canal system in 1922 and was in regular use until the 1980s. She was altered in several stages through 1949. She is 73 feet 5 inches (22.38 m) in length, 14 feet 9 inches (4.50 m) in beam and 9 feet (2.7 m) in depth. She is registered at 45 gross tons. She has a molded steel frame, deck beams, and riveted plates.In 1991 the Urger was reactivated "to educate school children and adults about the importance of New York’s historic Canal System." As of 2013 the Urger is "the flagship vessel in the New York State Canal Corporation’s fleet."Urger was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.Valiant-class harbor tug
The Valiant class is a class of US Navy yard tugboats that entered service in 2009. These tugs are designed to provide ship assist, barge and general towing, and escort services.
Modern merchant ships