Our pilots and Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) work closely with Svitzer Towage, whose tugs play a vital role in the safety and reliability of port operations.

Svitzer has four tugs based at Felixstowe, the most recent arrival being the 80 tons bollard pull BP Azimuth stern drive Svitzer Deben, which entered service in November 2015. Three other tugs offer 70 tons BP.

Manoeuvring the largest ships in the world to and from their berths involves far more than sheer force; the task requires precise timing and constant communication between the pilot on the bridge and the tug crews.

The process begins when the pilot boards the ship out at the Sunk embarkation station; he or she will then notify Harwich VTS of their tug requirements, depending on the ship itself, the master’s views and the weather conditions.

Svitzer’s tug crews and our pilots regularly go through joint simulator training at HR Wallingford to ensure they work as a highly skilled team. The focus is on close working between tug masters, pilots and VTS – working together, they can effectively double the bollard pull of the tugs through technical means as indirect towage and bow-to-bow towage.

The technique of bow-to-bow towage has been established in the Haven for some years. Indirect towing has also increased in use recently, mainly when guiding large vessels round the main channel’s hard turn into or out of the harbour, to prevent the stern swinging around too far.

Facts and figures

Name Svitzer Deben
Damen ASD Tug 3212
Svitzer Shotley
Damen ASD Tug
Svitzer Sky
Damen ASD Tug
Svitzer Stanford
Damen ASD Tug 3211
Grey Test
Conventional tug
Dimensions Length: 32.70m
Beam: 12.82m
Max Draught: 5.25m
Length: 24.47m
Beam: 4.6m
Max Draught: 5.35m
Length: 24.47m
Beam: 10.70m
Max Draught: 5.31m
Length: 32.22m
Beam: 11.24m
Max Draught: 5.5m
Length: 18.98m
Beam: 6.00m
Max Draught: 6.04m
Max speed 14.6 knots 13.84 knots 12.5 knots 14.2 knots 8.0 knots
Main Engines 2 x Caterpillar 5050bkW (6772bhp) at 1800rpm 2 x Caterpillar 3516BTA HD/D 2 x Caterpillar 3516BTA HD/D 2 x MAK 6M25/MCR 3960 bkW (5310 bhp) at 750 rpm
Bollard Pull Ahead 72 tonnes 70 tonnes 70 tonnes 67 tonnes 18 tonnes