Tugboat and Towboat Types

Traditional Seagoing Tugs

Traditional seagoing tugs are very large vessels with excellent seakeeping ability and enormous fuel capacity, designed for long unassisted open ocean transits, often towing large ships, oil drilling platforms, and other special traffic. Most tugs of this type have raised forecastles for better seakeeping capability, and in anticipation of their exclusive use in long distance ocean towing they often sacrifice the bow fender in favor of a ship bow form. These are extremely powerful tugs, usually 6000 horsepower and upwards, and are fitted with large multiple drum towing winches to allow them to handle the heavy towing cables. They are generally fitted with cable guides across the stern to allow the towing cable to move freely during turns without fouling the bulwarks or deck gear. In most cases the use of these tugs is strictly long cable towing astern of the vessel, and when they enter or leave a port with a tow they have assistance from several other conventional tugs in controlling and properly docking their tow. The typical length of these tugs is from 150 to as much as 240 feet (truly a small ship).

In recent years very few vessels of this type have been built for US based marine towing companies, most tugs of this type are now operated by a few worldwide specialty marine towing companies. The market for towing services in this vessels capability and size range has been undermined to some extent by the development of special semi submersible heavy lift ships.

Above: The large seagoing tug Alice L. Moran is shown underway. This vessel was built in Japan for Moran Towing. Crowley Maritime also operates three very large traditional tugs, their Sea Victory class, shown in silhouette at the page top.

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