Tugboat 101

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

A tugboat (tug) is a boat or ship that maneuvers vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugboats can push or tow large vessels such as ships, barges, and oil rigs with high precision and speed. Below is a typical design of a tugboat, with some of the main parts defined along with their functions.

1. Bridge – a deck from which the ship is navigated

2. Clear view screen – a glass disk mounted in a window that rotates to disperse rain, spray and snow

3. Life buoys – designed to be thrown to a person in the water, to provide buoyancy and prevent drowning

4. H-bitt – an H-shaped bitt on a ship for securing a rope

5. Capstan – a revolving drum, with vertical axis, used for heaving in lines

6. Bow – the forward end of a vessel, usually the pointed end

7. Hull – the body of a ship

8. Propeller – a type of fan that converts rotational motion into thrust to transmit power

9. Old tyre fender – a portable device that protects a ship when bumping a pier

10. Hatch – an opening in a deck for passage of cargo, etc.

11. Funnel – a smokestack of a vessel

12. Morse lamp – a visual signaling device for optical communication

Tugboats are classified into three types:

  • Seagoing tugs – also known as deep-sea tugs or ocean tugboats
  • Harbour tugboats – generally smaller compared to seagoing tugboats, with higher width-to-length ratio
  • River tugboats – also referred to as towboats or pushboats

Tugboats play an important role in maritime transportation. Designing them and manufacturing them are a different matter altogether. Armed with basic knowledge, you can improve your company’s productivity as you continuously find ways to design the perfect boat for your specific needs.

Marine steering is where Gulf Coast Air & Hydraulics specializes in, particularly for vessels 250 feet and below. The company can also design hydrauilc systems for various types of boats including scallop boats, shrimp boats, and king crab boats. Check out their site for more information about the services they are offering.