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Tug Technology & Business

Tug Technology & Business

Shipping needs to appreciate emergency role of tugs

Wed 07 Mar 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Shipping needs to appreciate emergency role of tugs

Editor Martyn Wingrove highlights that shipping needs salvage tugs to keep key waterways open after maritime accidents and ship blockages

There have been a number of ship accidents so far this year that have demonstrated the essential work that tugs perform in emergencies and salvage projects. I have lamented a number of times on this subject and have highlighted the tough role that tugboat crews play in preventing incidents from becoming major life-threatening environmental disasters.

This is still the case and we will hear more on this next week as members of the International Salvage Union meet in London and emergency response technology is presented at the Interspill exhibition, also in the UK’s capital.

What I would like to highlight is how tugs keep key shipping lanes open even when there is a maritime incident. For example on 3 March a fleet of tugs were urgently deployed on the Elbe River near Hamburg where an 11,000 TEU container ship was blocking the seaway.

A propulsion failure caused 2008-built Eugen Maersk to remain static on the Elbe for three hours. The tugs were used to secure the 171,542 gt E-class container ship during repairs. Once Eugen Maersk was back on its way to Antwerp, Belgium, the seaway was re-opened and shipping trade could resume.

In another example, tugs were needed to handle a damaged container ship in the Kiel Canal, also in Germany. Salvage company Schramm worked with shipping company Peter Döhle to manoeuvre damaged 2004-built ship Akacia, which had severely damaged a key lock on the canal. Tugs Wolf and Holtenau were able to handle Akacia off the damaged Great Northern Lock and to a dock for surveys and repairs.

This unblocked this key shipping throughway to other vessels that were stopped from entering the canal during the incident. However, Akacia had almost destroyed the Great Northern Lock and millions of euros are needed for its repair.

What both these examples demonstrate is the essential role that tugs have in maritime industries and particular shipping in keeping major shipping lanes open. There are other examples every week of tugs towing stranded ships to safe ports and removing navigational obstacles.

Therefore, shipping should remember the important work of tugboat crews and ensure they are appreciated and supported. I am sure we will hear from tug owners next week whether they feel that appreciation and industry support.

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