Steering Solutions for Tugs

Tugs are different to most commercial offshore vessels. They are in many cases double ended and can move both forward and backwards, sometimes also sideways. This provides immense challenges when auto steering is to be employed.

When a captain steers a tug, they know the intended operation and take into account the change in the vessel’s steering characteristics depending on travel direction. An autopilot on the other hand is typically only set up for traveling in one direction, and is just given a heading as a reference. When traveling in any other direction, it is considered by the autopilot as "drift" instead of "forward motion".

In most cases, no one, not even the autopilot’s closest partner - the compass, will tell the autopilot that now we are steering 90 or 180 degrees off our heading, and it is intentional... how then do you employ an autopilot to work efficiently alongside your tug fleet in both a cost effective and safe manner?

Tim Ryder, Director - Professional Market, presented at Tugnology 2013, speaking on the evolution of Autopilots and steering technology applied to harbour and ocean going tugs.

Tim highlighted the considerations when choosing or retro fitting a heading control system.

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Tim Ryder speaking at Tugnology 2013

Tim Ryder speaking at Tugnology 2013