Marine Insight discusses 10 important points that must be kept in mind in order to execute the procedure of towing efficiently.
1. Safety: Safety is the first and foremost aspect while carrying out any and every duty on a ship. Specifically speaking in this regard, the Chief Mate must be in contact with the Bridge at all times. All LSA/PPE must be donned, and the crew must be pressed to follow safety guidelines at every step. Ropes/wires under tension can be disastrous and hence the crew must step aside to the safe zone when the same happens. It’s always better to have the minimum required number of people on deck at the time to avoid commotion and confusion.
2. Lights and Signals: The towed ship must comply with the Rules of the Road and display relevant lights and signals. Their functionality must be checked before they are due to be operated. It’s important to avoid putting vessels in the vicinity at risk (thereby, avoiding the same to own vessel).
3. Draught: The vessel must have draught suited to her needs through the duration of the voyage. It’s very important to consult relevant authorities about the characteristics of the water body to prevent unnecessary events such as grounding.
4. Watertightness: Prior to the voyage, the watertight integrity of the various openings must be checked. Hatches, portholes, valves etc. must be checked to ensure that they’re in place for the duration of the voyage.
5. Securing Arrangements: Securing arrangements for the cargo, stores, galley etc. must be exercised prior to the voyage to prevent unwanted collateral damage within the vessel.
6. Stability: Perhaps the most important of them all is- stability. Towed vessel should have sufficient stability with respect to all the conditions (loaded or ballast) that are to come about during the course of the voyage.
7. Rudder/Propellor: As and when deemed necessary, the rudder is best kept amidships. Along with that, the engine room must be informed well in advance to keep the propeller shaft from turning.
8. Ship’s Particulars: A fully detailed data sheet of the ship’s particulars must be kept at hand before the initiation of the voyage. This includes information to the last details; anything that might come in handy to maintain the safety of the vessel and the personnel involved in the procedure.
9. Sea State: The state of the sea is crucial to the degree of smoothness with respect to the voyage. Information must be obtained to the closest accuracy about the expected state of weather and sea, well prior to the voyage. All references such as VTS, via VHF communication with coast stations, Admiralty Publications, bespoke ship software etc. must be used to obtain specific information about the same.
10.The Emergency Towing Booklet: The emergency towing booklet, which contains information pertinent to towing, must be kept handy and conspicuous before and throughout the procedure. Although the booklet can only serve a purpose that is more suggestive than coercive, it must be referred to as it has ship specific information with the appropriate drawings and other towing arrangements.
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Source: Marine Insight