Tailoring tug technology to meet specific needs



Mabel Perez, Crowley Holdings Inc., Jacksonville, FL, USA


In the world of ship assist and tanker escort operations, a myriad of challenges and endless ideas about how to address those challenges are commonplace in harbours around the globe.

From escorting a large tanker carrying environmentally sensitive cargoes to assisting other vessels within the harbour, it is crucial that the company or harbour master contracted to handle these operations have a full understanding of the task at hand and the best way to successfully address the needs of the project with the proper technology. Having the right equipment, specifically tugboats, to handle these types of jobs is a key component in the harbour and escort operations businesses.

The technology available to harbour masters is endless. As such, it is important companies analyse what technological components are needed to handle operations. “When considering what type of tug to design, build, purchase, or charter, vessel operators have a good understanding of what needs they require and what capabilities they want to tug to have,” said Ed Schlueter, Vice President of Vessel Management Services for Crowley. “The amount of technology out there is so great it really becomes a balancing act to determine the best available technology and what is commercially viable.”

In harbour and escort operations, having a highly manoeuvrable tug that can operate in tight areas is important. At Crowley, the needs of the client and each specific harbour guide engineers in choosing which technology is needed for each tug.

Tug design
Crowley provides harbour towing services in the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego and Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, and Seattle and Tacoma, Washington consisting of escort and docking services for tankers, container ships and other vessels as they enter and depart from the harbours. In Valdez and Cook Inlet, AK and North Puget Sound, Washington, Crowley tugs assist large tankers and provide both tethered and untethered escort services.

Each tug assigned to those respective regions has different technology tailored to the needs of the client and the harbour. Crowley currently uses three different tug designs in their ship assist and escort business, explained Chris Peterson, Crowley’s Vice President of Marine Services.

Twin-screw propeller
One of the tug designs used at Crowley is a conventional twinscrew propeller tug, equipped with two or three rudders and two propellers. This tug design generates a tremendous amount of force and can be used for conventional towing while still providing above-average manoeuvring capabilities. Reaching up to 15 to 16 knots in speed, a conventional tug design provides harbour masters the ability to handle towing, ship assist and escort work.

“Crowley’s Hunter is a conventional tug and it can reasonably handle a variety of ship assist, escort and towing projects,” said Peterson. “While it provides a little less manoeuvrability than Crowley’s other tugs and is equipped with less technology than our other tugs, it is a good choice for harbour masters looking for a tug that can handle a variety of roles successfully.”

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