02-2018: Information required for Non- Routine Towage Operations

29 January 2018

Mariners are advised with immediate effect that Harwich Haven Authority requires the following information (as a minimum) from the Tow Master, at least 2 working days preceding any non-routine towage operation:

  1. Confirmation of safe Pilot boarding and landing arrangements with accompanying photographs. If the Pilot access is not deemed safe, the Pilot will be unable to transfer.

  2. Person on- board with overall responsibility for the manoeuvre (Name, Position and Vessel). This person would usually (in the case of a routine- Piloted vessel) be the Master, but in the case of non- routine towage, this may be the Tug Master.

  3. Details of all Plant and vessels/ objects involved including their maximum drafts, maximum air draft and any trim. Please note; a workboat may not be construed as a tug, unless it is thus certified.

  4. Are vessel(s)/ object(s) being towed/ pushed- manned? If not, what provision is there for making fast/ mooring, etc.?

  5. Will an emergency towline be rigged and if so, what length of this will be trailing in the water?

  6. Crew competency levels for all vessels/ objects involved in the operation, including relevant towage certifications.

  7. Copy of the passage plan including period under Pilotage.

  8. Expected speeds (in still water) and corresponding towline lengths at different stages, in Pilotage waters.

  9. Wind/ visibility/ tidal flow and wave height limiting criteria for the passage and whilst alongside.

  10. Method statement covering the entire operation including all stages of navigation and safely manoeuvring the vessel(s)/ object(s) being towed/ pushed, until alongside.

  11. Side required alongside, any protrusions or obstructions on vessel(s)/ object(s).

  12. Mooring method to be employed.

  13. Are there suitable mooring lines on vessel(s)/ object(s) being towed/ pushed?

  14. Details of additional manning/ towage/ mooring resources to ensure safety for the vessel(s)/ object(s) whilst moored alongside.

  15. Copies of all other pertinent risk assessments.

  16. Type, location and arrangement of leads and Bitts with their SWLs.

  17. Location for tug pushing points with any limitations/ obstructions.


Tow Master – a suitably qualified and experienced person as identified and appointed by the Vessel Operator (towage contractor) before planning for the Non-Routine Towage Operation commences. This may be the Tug Master.

Non Routine Towage Operation- includes (but is not limited to):

  • Any towage operation involving towage resource from without the local harbour towage fleet

  • A towage operation likely to involve two or more vessels towing/ pushing, in an arrangement not previously risk assessed and reviewed by the Harbour Master.

If in any doubt, it is advisable to assume that the operation may be ‘Non Routine’ and furnish the information as required above, in order to avoid any delays in acceptance.


  1. Tug Master – the Master of a vessel has the command of his/ her vessel at all times, is responsible for the safety of his/ her vessel, crew and (in the absence of a separate Tow Master having the conduct as explained in 3. below) also for any vessels/ objects being towed/ pushed ahead . The Master has the authority to make decisions affecting the safety and conduct of the tug, crew and (in the absence of a separate Tow Master having the conduct as explained in 3. below) any vessels/ objects being towed/ pushed ahead.

  2. Vessel Operator – vessel operators should note their responsibilities under Rule 2 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

  3. Tow Master – the Tow Master must be a person suitably qualified and experienced to take on the role and must be thus identified and appointed by the principal Vessel Operator (towage contractor) before planning for the Non Routine Towage Operation commences. The Tow Master (who may also be the Tug Master) in addition to items 1 to 17 listed above, also has the following roles and responsibilities:

      • Co-ordinating the planning, preparation and rehearsal(s) for the towage operation.

      • Determining the proposed manning and competency requirements for all personnel (excluding any Pilots) involved in the operation.

      • Overall responsibility for the safety and conduct (when no Pilot is embarked) of the towage operation and the passage.

      • Ensuring that a proper record and audit trail of the planning, approval process, and the operation itself, is maintained.

  4. Pilot – the Pilot has the following roles and responsibilities:

      • Providing local knowledge, information and advice to the Tug Master and/or Tow Master.

      • Notwithstanding the responsibilities of the Tug Master and/or Tow Master; taking conduct of the navigation of the tug and tow(s).

      • Acting as Harwich Haven Authority’s representative on board.

      • Providing advice and support to the Harbour Master in the planning, risk assessment and rehearsal(s) for any Non Routine Towage Operations.

Note – Failure to provide the information requested above at least 2 working days preceding any non-routine towage operation will not automatically preclude the operation from consideration. 

Captain M Dunn

Harbour Master & Marine Manager


2018 Non- Routine Towage Operations