DC Gard Protecting Dyneema Eyes 225x300 This time I want to talk about the care and maintenance of tow rope. In particular DYNEEMA (HMPE – High Modulus PolyEthylene).

Your tow rope system is, contrary to what an engineer or naval architect may tell you, the most important piece of kit on your tug. Without it, all you can do is look pretty and push things!

Today the most common type of rope in use in the towline system is Dyneema. This can be used in conjunction with other fibre types such as Polyester, Polypropylene and even Nylon. All these types of rope have varying degrees of elasticity and in general, will be used as main lines or stretchers. The wire is still used as main lines in some systems as well. We will deal with these types of ropes in another edition of Small Angles.

The Dyneema will in most cases be the working end of your tow rope system and either as a Grommet or a pendant. In some cases, you may have simply one rope which will be only Dyneema but this is not common.

With the advancement of experience by rope manufacturers, as provided by tug operators, special Dyneema chafe protection sleeves have been developed to provide additional protection to the Pendants and Grommets. These are fitted in high-risk areas of the tow rope such as the eyes and the working end of the rope. (Particularly the area from the eye back towards the Tug) Please note that these Chafe Protection Sleeves are non-load bearing and can, if necessary, be repositioned or reused in a lot of cases.

The importance of this additional Chafe protection cannot be stressed highly enough. As tug masters and your crew often can not see the condition of the fittings that your tow ropes are going to encounter when you send your lines up.
Where a vessel has been serviced by a tug using wire, or her own berthing lines are wire, if the fittings are not well maintained or seldom used they will grow rope killing rust and without this additional protection damage to the tow rope is inevitable.

As stated earlier, the tow rope is vital to the effectiveness of your tug and as such, it is very important for the crew to regularly inspect the ropes to ensure that the integrity of the material is not adversely compromised.

As a general guideline, every time the ropes are deployed and recovered a general inspection should be undertaken, looking for Abrasive damage, twisting of the rope, signs of overheating, glazing, discolouration, pulled or separated strands or inconsistent diameter. If a shock load is experienced during a tow it is vital that a thorough inspection is undertaken as soon as possible and before another job is undertaken. Particular attention should be paid to those areas of the tow rope that have been in contact with Ships/Tug fittings as these are areas of high risk for potential damage.

Regular more formal inspections should be undertaken as prescribed by your internal planned maintenance schedules or as required. To assist with these inspections most rope manufacturers will provide guidelines if they are not already onboard ask for them.

Today the internet is a marvellous resource for information, the trick is to ask the correct question! To assist you I have found a couple of references.

A relevant paper I presented to the 19th International Tug & Salvage Convention in 2006.


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