Tugboat and Towboat Types

Docking Tugs

Tugs designed to perform ship docking functions are characterized by small deckhouses and pilothouses and exhaust stacks of minimal height with lines that often sweep into and compliment the superstructure. The towing light mast is often arranged so that it can be folded down, and there usually is a support on the stack or the deckhouse to hold the mast when it is in the lowered position. These tugs frequently have large open deck areas, and a fairly wide walkway on either side of the deckhouse to facilitate the handling of boarding ladders, which are carried stowed against the pilothouse when underway to or from a job.

Typical engine total ratings for ship docking service are from 1000 to 4000 horsepower, and although single engine tugs tended to dominate this application for many decades, in recent years an increasing number of new construction twin engined tugs have been used. Tugs used in this type of service will often not have a towing winch, but instead are fitted with power capstans aft of the deckhouse to assist in tensioning lines.

The latest trend in ship docking tug design is the use of Z-drives, and that type of tug will be addressed separately in another article in this series.


Top: The tug Miriam Moran is shown underway in an aerial view. Notice the wide transom and dual exhaust stacks which are indicative of a twin engined tug.


Above: The tug Harriet Moran is shown underway. The starboard boarding ladder is stowed and lashed to the handrails. Notice the extensive installation of fenders in addition to a full hull rubber impact rail.


The photo above was provided courtesy of Electro-Motive Diesel.

We welcome and appreciate submissions of photos from shipyards, vessel owners, equipment builders and other tug enthusiasts.

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