Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Tugs can be made fast in several ways depending on where they are to be placed and the work that they are going to do.
If the tug is to assist in a routine docking or undocking and is to be made fast on the bow or quarter, she generally puts up two lines. The first line sent aboard, to be led forward and put on a bitt on the ship's deck, is the backing line. This line is made fast to a bitt on the tug's foredeck. Since this line will take a heavy strain as the tug backs against it to pull the bow or stern, it must be put on a bitt aboard the ship. Too often, the mate on the bow or stern puts the backing line on a small cleat on the bulwark, or on some other unsuitable fitting that is out of the tug master's line of sight. When the tug later backs on that line for the first time, the cleat pulls off the bulwark with the very real danger of injuring or killing someone aboard either vessel. The second line sent aboard from the tug is led from the tug's foredeck to her bow, and then up to the ship. This come ahead line is led aft on the ship's deck and used by the tug to work against and get into position to push.

If the ship will be backing into or from a slip, a stern line may also be rigged so the tug does not fall around as the ship gathers stemway. The ship's speed must then be kept to a minimum since the tug is at nearly right angles to the ship while backing, with the full length acting as a drag and putting a heavy strain on that line that increases geometrically as ship's speed increases. Two of the ship's crew must stand by to let the line go promptly on signal from the tug and slack it with a messenger to the tug. If the line is not let go promptly the tug is either unable to get in position to work or the line is parted by the strain as the tug and ship maneuver. There is a very real risk of getting the stern line in the tug's propeller if the messenger is not used and properly tended when slacking the stern line down to the boat.

Twin-screw tugs, due to their ability to maneuver, will often give the ship only a backing line since they can use their two engines to get at right angles to the ship to push without a come ahead line.
Tugs having one of the various patented drives that allow maneu­vering in all directions will need only to send a hawser to the ship, which allows the tug to work with greater freedom and to be more useful to the ship handler supplementing the engine, rudder, bow thruster, anchors, and mooring lines. Use the tug only when these other tools will not by themselves accomplish the task. There are several reasons for this.
1. The only way to develop a skill in and a feel for handling ships is to do the work. If a ship is pushed and pulled into position pri­marily using the tug, you aren't developing any skill in shiphan­dling, you are only learning to push and pull with tugs.
2. If a job is planned to minimize the need for the tug, then those tugs are available as additional tools if required-an ace up the shiphandler's sleeve. If the job is done in a manner that makes the use oftugs essential, this backup capability is lost. By mak­ing the tugs fast, and then working as if they weren't available, the tugs can be used to correct any problem that might arise.