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Research Project

Emergency Towing Vessel Needs Assessment

In this Report, You’ll Learn About

  • Emergency towing vessel needs for seven different types of large, high windage ships
  • Vessel and crew capabilities required to be able to handle a worst-case emergency towing scenario
  • Difficult ocean conditions on the Pacific coast that require powerful ETVs


This study assesses emergency towing vessel needs for different types of large, high windage ships. Clear Seas commissioned Vard Marine Inc. to examine the capabilities needed by a single ETV to be able to render assistance to a disabled ship drifting onto Canada’s Pacific coast. The analysis, part of Clear Seas’ Marine Transportation Corridors project, is intended to inform decision makers, response professionals and the public regarding the extensive capabilities that are required to be able to respond to emergency towing scenarios.

The report describes desirable characteristics for ETVs capable of open ocean operations, concluding large and powerful ETVs are needed to cope with the difficult conditions off the Pacific coast. It goes beyond propulsion power and bollard pull needs to highlight other characteristics such as ship attachment points, vessel reach and endurance, and human factors.

Key Takeaway

This report describes desirable characteristics for ETVs, emphasizing the need to have relatively large and powerful vessels equipped with trained crew and sufficient equipment to cope with Pacific coast conditions. The conclusions are relevant elsewhere, as similar types of ships encounter comparable wind and wave conditions in Canada’s Atlantic region. Learn more about ETVs and how their use differs around the world.

Result Highlights | Statements & Quotations

For most ship types, the wind drag component dominates the forces acting on the ship, meaning that high windage ships such as loaded container ships and cruise ships represent greater challenges to ETVs than do tankers.

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Ships other than tankers are not required by regulation to have deck fittings or towing equipment of sufficient strength for a worst-case emergency towing situation.

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Various factors influence the effectiveness of tugs and other towing vessels in emergency situations, ranging from vessel size and power to crew competency.

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Research Team

Vard Marine Inc. (VARD) on behalf of Clear Seas.

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