How much main/aux engine maintenance do you do on tugs?

Our company, which mostly has large ocean going cargo vessels, also owns 2 tug boats.

The tug boats see very little action since they do only coastal work in a not-so-busy harbor. We’re talking about a 100 hrs on main engines per month.

These boats have practically had the same crew for almost a decade. With so few hrs on machinery, generally very little maintenance is required, so naturally the crew has very little experience. This is a little frustrating since I generally work the cargo ship crews pretty hard during dry dockings (engine overhauls) and with dry docking coming up, looks like I won’t be able to do the same on these boats.

I wonder if it’s generally the same all around or is it time to look for some fresh blood?



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3 thoughts on “How much main/aux engine maintenance do you do on tugs?

  • April 24, 2020 at 10:42 am
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    Probably several reasons why those guys are on those two tugs…

    But I guess it really depends, I worked for a company in Texas that was in the harbor tug business – ship assist operations. We had 9 boats in the port k worked in and I think another 30 something in Htown/Galveston.

    Normal maintenance and upkeep was done on a schedule and then daily logs had to be mailed into the office daily. When the engineer ran into an issue that he could solve, the port engineer would try to troubleshoot with him. If we had some downtime we’d stop by the office and have the port eng come on and work to see if they could advise the engineer. If that failed, about half mile in the inner harbor we had a shipyard where they could get a manufacturer or vendor to come on to solve the mystery. Occasionally the head of engineering from the company would have some of his better guys in our port for when the issue still remained

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  • April 24, 2020 at 10:42 am
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    This is standard for harbor tugs. Boats are crewed by a captain and a deckhand. Engineers cost more. Harbor tugs don’t have the redundant systems required to do maintenance under way and it’s just not safe to have guys below while you’re banging into ships. Add the lack of engineering experience and aptitude to the pile and we honestly would rather the crew doesn’t attempt repairs. The trick is to never make a repair twice. If a steel or aluminum part corrodes away we replaced it with bronze. If an o-rings fails we identify the material and find a better replacement. We operate a 10-40 year old fleet of 8 vessels, 50+ ton bollard pull, 3000 hours per year per vessel with a shoreside crew of one mechanic, one laborer, and a port engineer that sometimes gets involved. Contractors do main engine overhaul, drive overhauls, major welding work, and below the waterline work.

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  • April 24, 2020 at 10:42 am
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    I work on a river boat with EMD engines on board. I typically service our main engines at 1,000 hours. Our generators at 500 hours. We don’t have AUX engines. We over haul the engines at 30,000 hours. Gearboxes at 60,000. The gens get swung at 30,000, they do the over hauling on the gens on land.

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