!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: A Tugboat Captain's Competencies

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Tugboat Captain's Competencies

I am always on the lookout for sources of information about the skills required for specific jobs because such detail helps in visualizing what training requirements are likely to be.

Most recently, I came upon the US Coast Guard's listings of tasks and duties required of captains of tugboats. As you might imagine, the requirements for tugboats used on inland waters and the Great Lakes are somewhat different, and generally less extensive, than those for tugboats used in near coastal and ocean waters. (There are also some special requirements for captains of towboats on western rivers — defined as those between North Dakota and Louisiana and between the Appalachians and the Rockies — mostly relating to navigating in rivers whose level can change substantially and to maneuvering in locks.)

I've reproduced the Coast Guard's model Great Lakes/Inland task listing (pdf) below. The model listing for Near Coastal/Ocean towing is here, while that for Western Rivers is here (both pdf).

Towing Officers' Assessment Record:
Great Lakes/Inland

A. Vessel Familiarization
  • Locate and demonstrate use of fire-fighting equipment

  • Locate and demonstrate use of life-saving equipment

  • Identify and describe:
    • main engine or propulsion system

    • steering system

    • auxiliary systems
  • Describe and follow vessel's fuel-transfer procedures

  • Identify physical characteristics of vessel and tow

  • Conduct safety orientations for new crewmembers

  • Use vessel's internal-communications system or equipment
B. Navigation and Piloting
  • Describe the effect of tide or current on vessel's position

  • Allow for draft and clearances in navigation of vessel

  • Conduct pre-voyage tests and inspections [in accordance with the applicable Federal regulations]

  • Describe and comply with reporting requirements for VTS [Vessel Traffic Service]

  • Communicate using VHF radio

  • Provide radio or whistle notice of getting under way

  • Make security calls

  • Initiate appropriate actions in reduced visibility

  • Identify and maintain required charts or maps and

  • Use required charts or maps and publications

  • Determine vessel's position on chart or map

  • Maintain heading using magnetic compass

  • Incorporate information on forecast weather conditions in preparation for voyage
C. Watchstanding
  • Operate and use all electronic equipment in pilothouse

  • Use compass or swing-meter (as applicable)

  • Make appropriate entries in logbook

  • Maintain proper lookout

  • Communicate navigation and vessel-status information to the relieving watch officer
D. Maneuvering
  • Maneuver light boat

  • Maneuver tow in high wind

  • Make tow

  • Break tow

  • Get under way, pushing ahead

  • Get under way, towing alongside

  • Maneuver loaded tow in narrow channels

  • Maneuver empty tow in narrow channels

  • Maneuver tow around sharp bends and turns

  • Maneuver tow with following current

  • Maneuver tow against current

  • Maneuver in channel with deep-draft traffic

  • Maneuver through bridge

  • Land with current

  • Land against current

  • Moor to piling, cell, or dock
E. Rules of the Road
  • Apply the Rules of the Road in the following situations:
    • Meeting while pushing ahead, or meeting while towing astern

    • Crossing while pushing ahead, or crossing while towing astern

    • Overtaking another vessel while pushing ahead, or overtaking another vessel while towing astern

    • Being stand-on vessel

    • Being give-way vessel

    • Operating in restricted visibility

    • Properly lighting towing vessel and tow while pushing ahead, or properly lighting towing vessel and tow while towing astern

    • Provide proper sound and light signals (passing, fog, danger, etc.)
F. Safety and Emergency Response
  • Describe procedures to be followed in response to:
    • Steering failure

    • Loss of electrical power

    • Loss of propulsion

    • Collision/allision

    • Grounding

    • Personnel injury

    • Oil or hazardous substance spill
  • Conduct man overboard drill

  • Conduct fire drill and instruction [in accordance with the applicable Federal regulations]

  • Describe procedures for abandoning ship

  • Describe procedures for use of general alarm

  • Describe procedures for use of all on-board safety equipment
G. Environmental Protection
  • Describe procedures for disposal of:
    • Garbage

    • Sewage

    • Bilge slops

    • Regulated waste
1 A Towing Officers' Assessment Record (TOAR) is a document that lists tasks to be performed or explained (as appropriate) in the presence of a "designated examiner," i.e. a towing-vessel officer or other person who meets specific Coast Guard requirements (see the FAQ the Coast Guard provides to accompany its model TOARs).

If an individual will be working on a towing vessel in a limited geographic area, such as a fleeting area or harbor, he/she can complete a Limited TOAR, of which a model is here (pdf).