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A tugboat, or “tug”, is a vessel that is used to move or reposition other, less maneuverable vessels either by pushing or pulling them. A tug is commonly used to move maritime vessels that are either unable to propel themselves or, due to narrow or crowded conditions, should not propel themselves. Tugboats are designed to be strong and very powerful for their size. While early tugboats relied primarily on steam engines, most modern tugs operate using diesel. There are three basic types of tugboats: Maritime Tugs, Harbor Tugs and River Tugs. Each has special design characteristics that help them to perform as efficiently as possible in the given environment.
Tugs come in three versions:
- Standard – Uses a thick rope or cable, known as a hawser, to pull or tow a vessel into position.
- Notch – Uses a notch at the stern to push vessels. Notch tugs are often are often equipped with a towing winch as well.
- Integrated Tug and Barge (ITB) – Two vessels designed to fit together into one integrated unit. Much safer than traditional tug and barge configurations. ITB’s are considered to be ships rather than tugs and barges and must follow rules accordingly.
- Harbor Tugboats – These tugs operate in harbors close to shore and assist larger vessels in maneuvering through narrow or congested waterways.
- River Tugboats – These tugs operate exclusively on rivers and are designed accordingly with shallow hulls and flat bows
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