Traveling from far and wide, we all met again earlier this year at the not-to-be-missed, biennial International Tug and Salvage Convention and Exhibition. This year’s event was held in Marseille, France. Take a peek for yourselves at and look for ITS 2018 Marseille in the menu.

Convention 1 This was the 50th year that ITS has taken place. It is organized by The ABR Company Ltd which also organizes the Tugnology technical conferences in intervening years. While Tugnology is held over two days in Europe and involves in-depth technical papers about tugs and nothing but tugs, ITS encompasses a far wider field of papers. It runs over four days and regularly exceeds previous years’ delegate attendance numbers.
The first conference I attended was in Amsterdam for the Tugnology event which ran over two full days. As a Tugmaster, I was fascinated by the information I was hearing from the presentations. I was also struck by the willingness of the speakers and all the trade stand holders to get feedback from a Tugmaster who is ‘sat in the chair’ daily dealing with all the equipment given to them onboard. It really blew me away and as I have said many times, “Why didn’t I know about this years ago?” This family environment of likeminded people within our industry and my own thirst for knowledge has seen me at 9 of these conferences over 10 years. I still can’t believe I missed one, due to work getting in the way again…


Convention 2 Despite our industry being global, attendance at the conference will allow you the chance to meet all the names you have heard of and companies whose products you use and you will be delighted with the informal chats and discussions that continue to dominate each event. There is no hard sell at any time here, it is all about teaming up to make our industry sustainable, safer, more cost-effective and in many cases leading the shipping world in changing of design and environmental impact. All of which must be contained within 20 – 40 meters of tug length.

Our 1st day in Marseille involved registration and meeting the wonderful team at ABR

Convention 3 who host the event and saying hello to old friends again. In the early evening, we all headed down to the Old Port for a Damen welcome reception. Damen have never failed to impress with their hosted events and if you have ever purchased a Damen tug then this is your chance to eat and drink some of the money back that you gave them for your tug. Over 300 people attended the welcome event and it was a lot of fun along with a tour of the Damen RSD tug 2513 twin finned skeg (and it’s green).

On day one of the conference we were up early (not as early as the IMS Run Crew for the more fitness-minded delegates and partners) as we had a double stand for SeaWays Global to finish preparing and to await the footsteps of all the delegates arriving, all longing for a much-needed coffee intake following the previous evening’s social event. There is always a great buzz of anticipation and excitement around seeing old and new companies coming together to show off their new products. Welcome speeches start at 0900 announcing conference open, followed by the magnificent papers that always impress the waiting delegates. This year’s topics included “The evolution of tug design, through ITS eyes” presented by Robert Allan, who needs no introduction, on the design changes throughout the 50 years of ITS event. A great presentation and instantly thought-provoking to begin to consider what the next 50 years will bring.

Day 2 was incredibly busy, the day was mainly spent looking around the stands and for the new faces to introduce yourselves to. I like to head straight for the stands and ask “What’s new this year?” This takes 3 days to achieve as our industry does not stop developing ideas; some really good and some really bad. However, it’s important to focus on all ideas and let’s say 1 out of 5 are brilliant. Any bad ones are learning opportunities and should always be held as a positive.

Day 2 also allowed the opportunity for our Partner Capt. Arie Nygh to present his paper on “Ship’s Deck Fittings, Utilised for Towage”.


Convention 4 A synopsis of the paper:
“There has been a move around the world to use high-powered escort tugs to ensure the safe passage of ships in restricted waterways. What has become apparent is that while these tugs can render significant assistance, there is an Achilles Heel – the ship’s fittings to which the towline is attached in many cases are unable to handle the forces generated by the tug. The investigation has found classification society regulations are confusing and lead to significant misunderstanding by pilots, tug masters and indeed ship owners. This potentially renders the whole exercise of escort towage a waste of time. This paper presents the issues, the underlying history of the situation, and comes up with some pragmatic guidelines to assist all concerned in making informed decisions”.
CAPT ARIE NYGH, Managing Director, SeaWays Consultants Pty Ltd, Australia

The evening brought a great social event sponsored by Cashman Equipment and was held on the rooftop of part of Marseille’s extensively redeveloped harbour area. It was a wonderful event with great hosts, brilliant food and refreshments for all. Another great location to talk all things tugs…
Convention 5 Day 3 rounded off the conference, with further presentations providing a wealth of knowledge to be gained. Even though it was the last day, there were still many new faces arriving, delayed due to work commitments, and still an exciting buzz around the conference centre for all involved. As the show starts to run down it is amazing how crazy the afternoon gets with those last-minute meetings, deals still being made, introductions for the new attendees, fond farewells for early leavers and then the crazy rush to tear all the stands down, get packed away completely and get back to your accommodation ready for the gala dinner.

The gala event has all the Towage attendees trying their best to look as smart and cool as they can for an evening of great entertainment, a fantastic dinner and a well-deserved wine or beer for those that need it. Wives, husbands, and partners are invited to this event, so it really is a very social dinner and a chance for everyone to build on their relationships they have made during the conference.
In rounding off, I would like to say if you do get the chance to attend Tugnology 19 or ITS 2020 then you will not regret it. Many Tugmasters I know pay for their own entrance, accommodation, and travel to be there and even with this personal expense, they say they feel they could not miss one for their own professional development. Tugnology ’19 will be held in Liverpool, UK and again they are expecting to exceed delegate numbers from the previous event. Maybe they all hope to see a “Beatle”. Our thanks go to the whole team at the ABR Company for again allowing our industry to have an event that we all regard as a must go to event. Looking forward to seeing you all at Tugnology ’19 in Liverpool.


PB Towage consider SeaWays Tug Master training a significant competitive advantage, the same objective competency based standard delivering optimal safety and efficiency outcomes across their growing fleet. While the towage industry is seeing the power of tugs go up around the coast, it is not just bollard pull that Marine Pilots are looking for. Quality training, in particular of the Tug Master in conjunction with the Pilot is the key to the effective use of a modern, omni-directional tug.

It normally takes in the order of three months to train a new Tug Master. Even if you have a good training system, the cost of “live” training is prohibitive taking wages, fuel, weather and opportunity into account. The ability to replicate maneuvers in an advanced, well calibrated simulator, configured for specific port and vessel condition, allows the trainee to achieve the required level of competency in a fraction of the time.

Full mission simulation is the future of Tug Master Training and PB Towage recognise SeaWays as an international leader in the field.

Tony Cousins

Managing Director, PB Towage

The course content, structure and materials is all a credit to Seaways and the facility for the course is just fantastic.

The trainers experience and professionalism is unequaled and their complete understanding of our requirements at Barrow Island made the training so much easier.

I found the structure of the training very easy to understand with more hands on training than sitting in the class room, I for one adapted well to this environment.

Each trainer took time to ensure we fully understood each maneuver and spent extra time with us when required and allowed us free time alone to hone our skills on the controls, we all found this very beneficial.

A special mention must go to Steve Sandy, I can’t speak highly enough of this guy, his presentation and explanations of each section of the course was extremely easy to follow and watching him operate the tug controls was just incredible. He is quite a remarkable chap and an excellent trainer and of course his easy going nature makes him very approachable.

I highly recommend this training to all new and used tug Masters and would urge all Tug owners to put their Masters forward for this training.

Steve Linton

Tug Master OMSA

“The seaways training course modules one and two is without doubt the most frustrating but yet rewarding courses I have attended.

I found an excellent balance between theory and practical. The training was delivered by a number of professional, dedicated and enthusiastic instructors, each of them leaders in the field of ASD and Harbour towage.

The training had a strong focus on ASD/Towage safety and provides you with the tools to respond positively to emergency situations”

Steve Wall

OMSA Tugmaster on Chevron’s Gorgon Project

I completed my Azimuth training with Seaways and cannot thank Arie enough for the knowledge he passed to me at that time.

Not only did we complete the hands on ASD training but covered aspects of professional development that still assist me in everyday operations.

We covered items like our company safety management system, which was still in its infancy, crew and client management, personnel management and of course the mantra of Authority, Control and Finesse.

I still refer to my training almost daily and always have my training manual at hand. I would highly recommend the Seaways training to any of my officers or anyone who was serious about becoming a professional ASD Tugmaster.

Capt Jayne Hogarth FITA

Master “Mermaid Sound”

For anyone who has not had this brilliant training package, then I suggest you contact your Company and ask if this package could be made available to you, the booklets on the Modules alone are worth their weight in gold and something that you can refer to at anytime you like, like we say, you can never stop learning.

There are three principles that Seaways drum into you and if you remember them you will not go far wrong, they are as follows:- Authority, Total Control and Finesse. So once you have mastered the rudiments of the Training package you will drive with AUTHORITY, have TOTAL CONTROL of the VESSEL and the Situation and with that YOU will drive with FINESSE, what a lovely feeling and your Crew will feel safe as well, that’s all we/they want, to know they come and go home from work safely and Seaways Training does this by the bucket load.

Ps:- Happy Tugging.

Capt. Alan Preston

Serco Tugmaster