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The description for tugboats is very limited it appears to only cover smaller harbor type tugs. Tug boats can actually have horsepower ratings up to 25,000 hp.

Tugs are rarely converted to icebreakers.

Thank you, it'd be great if you could make the suggested changes to the page. This encyclopedia is freely editable by anyone, and any help is much appreciated.
I'll try to incorporate your suggestions. Tristanb 04:18, 11 Aug 2003 (UTC)

How much are they used these days? And historically?[edit]

How often are tugboats used these days? How does this compare to historical use? Would be a good addition to the article. Tempshill 04:07, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Tugboats are used more heavily now than ever. With the ever increasing size of ships calling at ports more and more powerrful tugs are required to help these large ships dock and undock. Tug technology is also increasing with the invention of tractor tugs and z-pellar drives.

Adam Hutt Seaspan Internation

One just sank in China Foreigners among over 20 missing after tug sinks in China's Yangtze: Xinhua 林榮祥 02:06, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Letters on Tugboats[edit]

Can anybody tell me what the large letters on tugboat smokestacks means? I've seen V, M, and K, and now i'm really curious. Taco325i 12:53, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Editing the Intro[edit]

I would say that the intro section of the article is a bit too long & that all but the first paragraph could be a section within the body. If no one has any objections I'll be making the change shortly. Trcunning 14:10, 3 March 2007 (UTC)


Should there be mention of these since they are often used instead of tugs. Wikipedia article83.138.189.75 20:39, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually bow thrusters are not meant to replace tugs. Tugs still provide safer, more precise control in close quarters, especially at slow speeds where a vessel's rudder is ineffective. Only vessels with azipods or some other omni-directional propulsion system and bow thrusters can safely maneuver at low speed without need of a tug. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:07, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

History and development[edit]

This article needs information on the history and development of the tugboat. At the least it should mention the Charlotte Dundas and the TUG since one of these two certainly qualifies as the first tugboat. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:03, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

I am looking for information on the tragedy of one super-powered Tug I saw in an island port in the Mediterranean. I admired it but it looked not much like the pictures in this article. It had two or more bollards on the aft deck, with enormous hawsers neatly coiled near at hand. I Heard that at full power, pulling a cruise-ship (?) the hawser(s) snapped and the boat took a nose-dive, straight down, drowning all hands. If this story contains an atom of truth, please, somebody confirm or deny.Flipbustle (talk) 15:44, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Missing Towing lights on Schematic Diagram[edit]

The most important characteristic of a Tugboat is missing from the Schematic Diagram on this page - that of the 'Towing lights'. These are required by the International Regulatation for Preventing Collisions at Sea. The picture in the gallery of Turecano Girls tug shows the 3 white lights on the folded mast. These lights are almost what defines a boat as a tugboat. In addition it would be good to show the port side navigation light as this appears to be missing too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Murfas (talkcontribs) 07:54, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Gallery - incorrect example[edit]

The photo of the "Bill Berry" in the Gallery should be in the article about towboats, not tugboats. There is a difference. ...for one towboats have square bows, flat bottoms, deal exclusively with barges, and rarely ever pull anything. Tugboats are usually more maneuverable and designed to pull or push from any direction. Towboats generally stick to rivers or calmer waterways due to the hull not being designed for ocean travel. I grew up around the Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee Rivers, my father worked on towboat engines and I knew several men who worked these boats. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:01, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Hybrid diesel/electric tugboat being built in Oregon[edit]

Foss Maritime is building a hybrid diesel/electric tug in Rainier, Oregon. I think it's pretty exciting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:33, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Are they fast?[edit]

25,000hp sounds like a lot. Louis Waweru  Talk  01:05, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

The design of the propeller of a tug is optimized for bollard pull, not for speed. BoH (talk) 16:50, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. So those massive propellers in the illustrations are somewhat to scale? If so, I think I get it. =)
Figure 2: bollard pull trial under real conditions
A tug with 2 azipods
Louis Waweru  Talk  01:26, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
These propellers are not in scale, probably two times too big.
The difference in designing for bollard pull - zero speed - instead of full speed, is that the speed of inflowing water in the propeller is only generated by the propeller itself. When sailing, the speed of the vessel should be added. With a given rotation speed of the propeller, this changes the ideal angle for the blades.
See the Smit Rotterdam for a 22.000 hp tug that can do 17 knots. BoH (talk) 09:12, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I think I can imagine the difference between designing for pull instead of speed. They are kind of like the tractors of the seas. Thanks for your help. Now, what purpose does the giant crystal serve? (j/k) Louis Waweru  Talk  21:59, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I believe the thing you call a "giant crystal" is just a the bridge. Many of the most recently designed tugs, have a bridge with floor to ceiling windows all the way around. Geo Swan (talk) 23:51, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I think Louis was joking. :) BoH (talk) 08:44, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Horsepower to kW[edit]

The article states tugboats have "750 to 3,000 horsepower (500 to 2,000 kW)", which appears to be converted using a 2/3 ratio, yet each horsepower is equivelant to about 750 watts (it depends on which horsepower), a quite substantial difference. Is this using some nautical horsepower I was previously unaware of? ;) (talk) 21:43, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

As far as i know, there are only two definitions of one horsepower: The metric (735.5W) and the imperial/mechanical (745.7). And none of these converts one HP to 750 watts. But that said, the conversion has been there for a fairly long time (since 17:21, 9 March 2004 actually) and my guess is that the author originally intended this to be an round simplified conversion. Probably the right thing would be to present the power-figures in watt and then convert them to hp using either the mechanical or the metric (i would prefer the metric for various reasons, but in the end it doesn't really matter that much...) --Hebster (talk) 07:55, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
My personal opinion is that "horsepower" should not be used when talking about ships and their engines. While the unit might be more descriptive for some people, it's not really used in modern shipping and shipbuilding. Tupsumato (talk) 04:55, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Steam tugs[edit]

I just finished reading The Grey Seas Under, by Farley Mowat. It's the story of a twin-stack, steam-powered tugboat that operated from Halifax in the 1930s and '40s. And a really fascinating story it is. I'd like to see someone develop a history section that would detail the development of steam tugs, which it seems began appearing in the 1890s.

Copyright violation and major rework[edit]

1) This edit two years ago by an anonymous IP with no other Wiki contributions appears to add substantial copyrighted material [1]. The source is not clear, it may have been deleted page [2]. (Material at [3] is a copyright violation of Wiki or vice versa.) At any rate,'s edits needed to be removed. I replaced the section "Types of tugboats" with the version from before.

2) Several external links seemed to me to cross the line into being excessively commercial and WP:SPAM. I removed these, in a separate edit.

3) Statements made in the opening paragraph reflect a limited perception of the types and uses of tugboats. Moreover we need to be sensitive that this article is highly likely to be read by young children, and that the intro should be correspondingly easy to read, and gracefully work into phrases such as "power ratings up to 20,000 kW (~ 27,200 hp) and usually have an extreme power:tonnage-ratio" Using Jane's Ocean Technology 1979-80, I reworked the intro, and moved the technical information after the general, easy-to-read information.

I realize these were a lot of changes, but the copyrighted material required that something be done right away. I think it's possible still other copyrighted material exists in the article, so it was an appropriate time to scrutinize the article as a whole. Although I've written a fair amount in Wiki about ships, I'm not an expert, so please keep a weather eye out for errors I introduced. Piano non troppo (talk) 17:13, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

screw tug?[edit]

A bunch of articles, mainly on 19th-century ships, talk about a "screw tug" (see e.g. USS Saffron (1863)), which we don't have an article on or mention here. Anyone know what it is? --Delirium (talk) 20:17, 3 July 2009 (UTC)


How does pushing the the larger vessel actually work? For instance in one of the current pictures (the one with the red Boxer), it's only one tugboat. Does it have to go side-to-side to go straight, or switch sides to turn the other direction? I can't see how else this works, thanks. - Commandur (talk) 16:19, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes, the article needs to cover this in the text. A tug generally either: 1) Pulls another vessel by cable from in front (towing), 2) Pushes a vessel directly from behind (for example a barge, specifically built to be transported that way), or 3) Pushes directly from any side, to position another vessel.
The picture you mention "Boxer escort tug with Voith Schneider Propeller in action" was possibly intended to show that the tug itself can push sideways.
We could use captions on the photos indicating each of three example methods. The text I just wrote above is a beginning, but really needs to include why each method is used, and perhaps how efficient each is? Regards, Piano non troppo (talk) 20:13, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Two engines[edit]

It seems a fairly common thing that tug boats have two diesel engines. Could something about this be added to the article by someone who knows a bit about tug boats. Thanks.Sf5xeplus (talk) 18:41, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


I added a photograph of the Finnpusku combination since there was no example of an integrated unit (and forgot to write an edit summary). However, it appears that the pushers are generally referred to as towboats in the USA. Should we have a link to that article in the section about different seagoing tug types? Tupsumato (talk) 04:53, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Small details, maybe "smoothing out" needed.[edit]

In Types/Seagoing, 1., what is a model bow? And is there really a need for an article on “hawser”? Wouldn’t a dictionary work?

In Types/Seagoing, 2., is “in ballast” used correctly? Altho slang for empty, doesn’t “in ballast” actually mean that there is ballast water in tanks, in order to provide some load/weight/draft? Do barges ballast? River barges around here are pushed when empty, but appear to have no ballast system at all. And would a towing winch be used to pull the vessel loosely from the front. An option between “notch” pushing and pulling? Not very clear as written, is it?

In Types/River tugboats, are towboats ever called tugs? Simply because they carry no cargo, providing power only? I suppose that “tug” is no less descriptive than “tow”, since they do neither. And if they are tugs, should it be noted that they have no capacity to tow, rather pushing while firmly attached to the barge(s) with no pivot point?

In “propulsion”, third paragraph, what does “After World War II…tow” mean? How was it “linked to safety”? Since a “Voith Water Tractor” “could not be pulled over by its tow”, does that imply that a cyclodical propeller equipped tug can be?

In the image of the Finnpusku, the image shows a single tug with a single barge, not two tugs and four barges. Different caption, maybe with “part of the system” type phrasing?

Thank you, Sammy D III (talk) 14:01, 26 February 2013 (UTC)