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ENHANCING TUG SAFETY THROUGH INTERNATIONALLY HARMONISED

STABILITY REGULATIONS

Gijsbert de Jong (speaker/author), Bureau Veritas, France

SYNOPSIS
Following the release of the Bureau Veritas Safety Guidelines for Design, Construction and
Operation of Tugs at ITS 2014 in Hamburg, a push has been made to bring the newly
developed stability requirements up to the level of the International Maritime Organization
(IMO) in London. In 2016 IMO has adopted the amendments to the 2008 Intact Stability (IS)
Code, which include stability criteria for towing and escorting based on the Bureau Veritas
guidelines. This is a major milestone in the development of a - much needed - internationally
harmonised standard to enhance tug safety and provides a clear answer to issues raised by the
industry, including at ITS 2016 in Boston.

INTRODUCTION
It stands to reason that safety is one of the primary concerns of every professional working in
the towing industry. Due to their very nature towing operations entail a degree of risk which
needs to be well understood and managed in order to prevent accidents. In this respect
stability of tugs has always been a key issue. In case the towline shifts to the side of the tug,
usually as a consequence of an unexpected event or an unintended action, the towline force
suddenly acts transversely to the tug’s centreline. As a consequence a couple of transverse
forces is generated – with the towline force being opposed the by thrust and/or hull resistance
forces – which causes the tug to heel and ultimately to capsize, a phenomenon called
“girting”. Broadly speaking there are two mechanisms which can cause a girting event. The
tendency for the tow to veer off – for example due to a loss of propulsion or steering on the
tug – and drag the tug transversely along with it is called “tow-tripping”. This mechanism is
the classic stability issue for tugs, whereby the towline pull is opposed by the hull resistance
force of the tug to create a heeling moment. As tugs have become increasingly powerful and
manoeuvrable to meet demand for higher bollard pull and greater operational capability, a
second mechanism called “self-tripping” has gained importance and has become a key design
consideration. Self-tripping is characterised by the tendency of a tug to overturn itself under
influence of a heeling moment created by the opposing towline pull and the steering forces
generated by – omnidirectional – propulsion units.

Over the past decade or so tugs have been increasingly engaged in escort operations, whereby
the tug is used for active steering, braking and otherwise controlling of the assisted ship
travelling at speeds typically in the range of six to ten knots. During escorting the steering
and braking forces are generated by the hydrodynamic forces acting on the tug’s hull and
appendages and the thrust forces exerted by the propulsion units. As the towline is typically
positioned at a large angle to the tug’s centreline, in particular when actively steering the
assisted ship, escorting is often associated with the tug operating under a considerable heeling
angle. This is the direct consequence of the heeling moment caused by the transverse
components of the above mentioned forces in the quasi-static equilibrium position of the
escort tug. As high transverse forces, heeling angles and speed through water are
characteristic of the normal operation of escort tugs, as opposed to being an accidental
situation on ship assist tugs, the stability criteria need to reflect the increased risk associated
with escorting.
Given the fact that stability is a safety critical aspect of tugs and towing operations, it is
somewhat surprising that no international regulations had been developed. The most probable
explanation – which should not be confused with a justification! – lays in the fact that most
tugs typically operate in national waters and have a gross tonnage of less than 500, both of
which make them fall outside the scope of the SOLAS Convention and therewith
international regulation. As a consequence individual flag states and classification societies
have developed and implemented their own standards based on their (geography) specific
knowledge and experience. This has led to a wide variety of standards with often limited
consideration for the basic mechanics described above and consequently little consistency
between them. Given the persistently high number of tug girting events and the associated
loss of life and property and potentially environmental pollution, it goes without saying that
there is an urgent need to develop a technically sound harmonised international regulatory
framework for towing and escort stability.

This has been recognised by the towing industry and pointed out – most notably by Rob
Allan – in several ITS and Tugnology papers, most recently at ITS 2016 in Boston [1,2,3]. In
order to address the issue a good deal of work has been undertaken within the scope of the
MARIN initiated SafeTug Joint Industry Project (JIP), which was joined by the major
classification societies involved with the towing industry. Bureau Veritas has led the
development of harmonised safety guidelines, whereby stability was one of the key focus
items, along with towing equipment, hull outfitting and safety equipment for non-Convention
tugs. A rationalised self-tripping stability criterion was developed, basically requiring that the
available self-righting energy of the tug is to exceed the expected heeling energy released in
case of an unexpected event causing the towline to shift to the side of the tug. Furthermore, a
dedicated set of stability criteria for escort operations was proposed. The draft guidelines
were presented and released at ITS 2010 in Vancouver [4]. Bureau Veritas has continued to
further develop the guidelines in close cooperation with leading tug designers, shipyards,
operators and equipment makers, incorporating further research work and experience
feedback from the application of the draft guidelines. The resulting Bureau Veritas Safety
Guidelines for Design, Construction and Operation of Tugs were presented and published at
ITS 2014 in Hamburg [5,6].

In order to achieve the final goal of developing internationally stability regulations for tugs
Bureau Veritas was offered a platform by the French administration by including specialists
of the classification society as technical advisors in their IMO delegation.

This paper presents an overview of the international intact stability criteria for towing and
escorting, which have been adopted by the 97th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety
Committee (MSC 97) in November 2016. Additional guidance is provided for the correct
implementation of the new regulations. Furthermore, the application of the guidelines to
novel tug concepts with non-standard propulsion configurations and/or towing equipment is
discussed.

IMO DEVELOPMENTS
Work on international intact stability requirements for specialised ships started off with the
agreement at MSC 86 in November 2010 to include an (unplanned) output on the
development of amendments to Part B of the 2008 Intact Stability (IS) Code in order to
include criteria for towing and anchor handling operations. The initiative was taken by
Norway in the aftermath of the capsizing of the anchor handling tug supply (AHTS) vessel
Bourbon Dolphin in April 2007 [7,8]. The Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and
on Fishing Vessels Safety (SLF) was tasked to take this work up in cooperation with the Sub-
Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE). Since 2014 the work has been continued by
the newly formed Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC).

The engagement of Bureau Veritas specialists started with the Correspondence Group
established by SLF 55 in February 2013, in which the harmonised towing and escort stability
criteria were brought forward for the consideration of the group. Active involvement in the
subsequent SDC Sub-Committee meetings and associated Correspondence Groups has finally
resulted in the inclusion of the proposed criteria in the draft amendments agreed by SDC 3 in
February 2016, which were approved in principle by MSC 96 in June 2016 and subsequently
adopted by MSC 97 in November 2016 [9,10,11].

It should be noted that the towing and escort stability criteria will be included in part B,
chapter 2 of the 2008 IS Code. This chapter contains the recommended design criteria for
certain types of ships, which now includes tugs escort tugs. Although the criteria are
effectively recommendations rather than mandatory requirements, it is common practice that
flag states will be referring to these recommended criteria to supplement the mandatory
general criteria included in part A and can also give guidance to administrations if no national
requirements are applied [12].

In line with IMO’s general four-year cycle policy for the introduction of new amendments (to
SOLAS and related mandatory instruments), the entry into force of the towing and escort
stability criteria will be on 1 January 2020 [11]. Considering the comparatively long time
period until entry into force and the urgency of implementing internationally harmonised
stability regulations, Bureau Veritas will implement the agreed criteria into its classification
rules on the shortest possible notice, with likely entry into force on 1 July 2017.

Although the process of regulatory development at IMO is lengthy and cumbersome, it


should be acknowledged that IMO provides a unique platform for maritime administrations
and the maritime industry – in an advisory role to the flag states – to develop common
standards which are recognised and applied across the world. The author – in the role of
technical advisor to the French administration and the International Association of
Classification Societies (IACS) – has experienced the discussions in the correspondence and
working groups as generally fruitful and constructive. The end result proves the point that
harmonisation of standards can be successfully achieved and that interested parties in the
maritime industry can be actively involved in the process by bringing in valuable competency
and experience feedback.

APPLICATION AND GENERALITIES


As mentioned in the previous section, the towing and escort stability criteria included in the
Bureau Veritas Safety Guidelines for Design, Construction and Operation of Tugs form the
basis of the final IMO criteria [6]. The technical background to the self-tripping and escort
stability criteria is explained by De Jong in the above mentioned 2010 and 2014 ITS papers
[4,5].

For the purpose of the application of the new IMO regulations, ships engaged in towing and
escort operations are explicitly defined [11]:
• Ship engaged in harbour towing means a ship engaged in an operation intended for
assisting ships or other floating structures within sheltered waters, normally while
entering or leaving port and during berthing or unberthing operations;
• Ship engaged in coastal or ocean-going towing means a ship engaged in an operation
intended for assisting ships or other floating structures outside sheltered waters in which
the forces associated with towing are often a function of the ship's bollard pull;
• Ship engaged in escort operation means a ship specifically engaged in steering, braking
and otherwise controlling of the assisted ship during ordinary or emergency manoeuvring,
whereby the steering and braking forces are generated by the hydrodynamic forces acting
on the hull and appendages and the thrust forces exerted by the propulsion units.

These definitions are intended to frame the application of the stability requirements; in
particular with regard to escort tugs (refer to introduction). Escort operations had previously
not been recognised as a particular type of operation in international regulations (only in
classification society rules). It should be noted that the stability criteria for harbour tugs and
coastal/ocean going tugs are identical. This is explained by considering that the underlying
capsize mechanisms (see introduction) are essentially the same. It should also be noted that
these definitions are not intended for design purposes. To that end reference is made to the
2013 Tugnology paper of Den Hertog and Allan [2].

Of note is that the existing mandatory requirement (part A, paragraph 2.4.3.4 [12]) that
vessels engaged in towing operations should be provided with means for quick release of the
towing hawser has been generalized to require that a vessel engaged in towing operations
should be provided with means for quick release of the towline and an additional sentence
has been included that this requirement includes towing winch systems [11]. The purpose of
this requirement is to facilitate a means of last resort to the crew to prevent girting of the tug,
which justifies its inclusion in the mandatory requirements of the 2008 IS Code. In this
respect it should be noted that IACS is currently working on a Unified Requirement for
towing winch emergency release systems, which was driven by the loss of the tug Flying
Phantom in December 2007 and follows up on recommendations included in the report
issued by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) [13]. The mandatory class
requirements will be applicable to towing winches on ship handling tugs operating within
ports, terminals and confined waters and will include requirements for the controlled release
of the towline tension in normal and dead ship conditions. The Bureau Veritas guidelines
already include a similar requirement applicable to both towing winches and towing hooks
[6].

The stability criteria included in part B of the 2008 IS Code are applicable to ships with keel
laying date on or after 1 January 2020 engaged in harbour towing, coastal or ocean-going
towing and escort operations and to ships converted to carry out towing operations after this
date [11].

While the Bureau Veritas guidelines consider the self-tripping mechanism as governing for
the stability of modern high powered tugs, some administrations involved in the IMO
developments were of the opinion that a criterion specifically covering tow-tripping should
be added. To accommodate that position it was agreed at SDC 3 to include a proposal from
Spain at SLF 49 (July 2006), which makes use of a semi-empirical formulation of the heeling
moment and has been applied by some flag states in their national regulations [14]. Also
included in part B (paragraph 2.8.5.3) is a requirement for all ships engaged in towing
operations, including ships provided with towing winch systems, to be provided with means
for quick release of the towline [11].
SELF-TRIPPING TOWING STABILITY
The self-tripping heeling lever is calculated on the basis of a transverse heeling moment
generated by the maximum transverse thrust exerted by the tug's propulsion and steering
systems and the corresponding opposing towline pull. This situation is to be considered as
accidental (e.g. caused by incorrect application of thrust by the tug).

The self-tripping heeling lever HLφ, in (m), as a function of the heeling angle φ, should be
calculated according to the following formula [11]:
× × ℎ × cos − × sin
=
×∆

where,
• BP = bollard pull, in (kN), which is the documented maximum continuous pull obtained
from a static bollard pull test performed in accordance with relevant IMO guidelines or a
standard acceptable to the Administration;
• CT = 0.5 for ships with conventional non-azimuth propulsion units and 0.90/(1+l/LLL) for
ships with azimuth propulsion units installed at a single point along the length. However,
CT should not be less than 0.7 for ships with azimuth stern drive towing over the stern or
tractor tugs towing over the bow, and not less than 0.5 for ships with azimuth stern drive
towing over the bow or tractor tugs towing over the stern. For tugs with other propulsion
and/or towing arrangements, the value of CT is to be established on a case by case basis to
the satisfaction of the administration;
• ∆ = displacement, in (t)l
• l = longitudinal distance, in (m), between the towing point and the vertical centreline of
the propulsion unit(s) relevant to the towing situation considered;
• h = vertical distance, in (m), between the towing point and the horizontal centreline of the
propulsion unit(s) as relevant for the towing situation considered;
• g = gravitational acceleration, in (m/s2), to be taken as 9.81;
• r = the transverse distance, in (m), between the centreline and the towing point, to be
taken as zero when the towing point is at the centreline;
• LLL = length (L), in (m), as defined in the International Convention on Load Lines in
force;
• The towing point is the location where the towline force is applied to the ship. The towing
point may be a towing hook, staple, fairlead or equivalent fitting serving that purpose.

The self-tripping formula for the heeling level is identical to the Bureau Veritas guidelines,
except for the reworked symbols and the introduction of the additional term -r×sinφ [6]. This
term has been added to take into account the effect of a transverse offset of the towing point
(relative to the centreline) on the heeling lever curve. This is necessary in case advanced
towing systems are applied whereby the towing point is not at or near the centreline of the
tug, but much more outboard, therewith reducing the heeling lever curve (effectively due to a
reduction of h) and the associated overturning energy which can be exerted on the tug.
Examples of such systems include movable winches, e.g. the carrousel towing system, and
rotating towing hooks, e.g. the azimuth friction-free towing point [15,16]. The effect of a
transverse offset of the towing point on the heeling level curve of an ASD tug is visualised in
figure 1. The positive impact of a transverse offset on the stability particulars of the tug
(increase of righting energy, decrease of the heeling energy) is immediately clear.
Figure 1: Effect of transverse offset of towing point on heeling lever curve (self-tripping).

It should be noted that in theory the same effect also applies to a small transverse offset of the
towing point. A typical example is a double fairlead (guidepost, staple), see figure 2. In such
case special care is to be taken not to calculate an overly optimistic heeling lever curve, as the
towline can leave the tug both on starboard side and on port side. Consequently, the stability
should be assessed for the worst case, which is actually slightly worse than considering the
towing point at the centreline, as shown in figure 2 (r2 is to be taken as negative, as the
towline leaves the tug over the opposite side over portside while the towing point is at
starboard side!). Nevertheless, for practical purposes zero offset can be applied for this case.

Figure 2: Transverse offset for double fairlead (HL(r2) is theoretically correct).

Another similar issue to be carefully assessed is the determination of the towing point for a
towing hook. Although towing hooks can typically rotate in the horizontal plane, suggesting
that the towing point moves outward, most towing hooks will rotate upwards around a
vertical hinge when the towline force is no longer in the horizontal plane (e.g. when the
towline acts under an angle with the horizontal plane or when the tug is heeling). This brings
the towing point effectively back to the vertical hinge and nearly cancels the effect of the
towing hook rotating sideways, as illustrated in figure 3. Moreover, in case the towing hook
is fitted off the centreline of the tug, the associated transverse offset is to be accounted for.
Similar to the case of the double fairlead, the towline can the towline can leave the tug both
on starboard side and on portside. Hence, the transverse offset, shown as r3 in figure 3, is to
be taken as negative! Depending on the magnitude off the transverse offset the (negative)
impact on the stability particulars of the tug can be significant. Therefore, it is recommended
to minimise the transverse offset as much as possible.

Figure 3: Transverse offset for typical towing hook (HL(r2) is correct in case the towing
hook is fitted at the centreline of the tug; HL(r3) is correct in case the towing hook is fitted
off the centreline of the tug).

The associated stability criterion – identical to the Bureau Veritas guidelines – states that area
A contained between the righting lever curve and the heeling lever curve, measured from the
heeling angle associated with the first intersection between the heeling lever and righting
lever curves (φe) to the heeling angle associated with the second intersection between the
heeling lever and righting lever curves (φc) or the angle of down-flooding (φf), whichever is
less, should be not less than area B contained between the heeling lever curve and the
righting lever curve, measured from the heeling angle φ= 0 to the heeling angle associated
with the first intersection between the heeling lever and righting lever curves (φe). The
criterion, which is identical to the Bureau Veritas guidelines with reworked symbols, is
visualised in figure 4 [6].

Figure 4: Self-tripping stability criterion [11].

It is of key importance to note the definition of the down-flooding angle. According to part A,
Sec 2.3.1.4, the down-flooding angle should be taken as the angle at which an opening
through which progressive flooding may take place is immersed [12]. The text continues to
state that this would not be an opening closed by a watertight manhole cover or a vent fitted
with an automatic closure. However, for the purpose of the application of the towing stability
criteria, openings required to be fitted with weathertight closing devices under the ICLL but,
for operational reasons are required to be kept open, should be considered as down-flooding
points in stability calculation [11]. This is fully in line with the Bureau Veritas guidelines and
with IACS Unified Interpretation (UI) LL 80, [6,17]. Further analysis is provided in the ITS
2010 paper of De Jong [4].

TOW-TRIPPING TOWING STABILITY


The tow-tripping heeling lever is calculated on the basis of a transverse heeling moment
generated as the tug is dragged along transversely (sideways) with a speed of 5 kn through
the water. This situation is to be considered as accidental (e.g. caused by a steering or
propulsion failure). Further background can be found in Navigation and Vessel Inspection
Circular (NVIC) No. 12-83 of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), in which USCG
sponsored research results on intact stability of towing and fishing vessels are presented [18].

The tow-tripping heeling lever HLφ, in (m), as a function of the heeling angle φ, should be
calculated according to the following formula [11]:
× ×γ× × × ℎ × cos − × sin + ×
=
2× ×∆

where,
• C1 = lateral traction coefficient = 2.8(LS/LPP-0.1), with 0.10 ≤ C1 ≤ 1.00;
• C2 = correction for C1 for angle of heel = φ/(3φD)+0.5, with C2 ≥ 1.00;
• φD = angle to deck edge = arctan(2f/B);
• C3 = distance from centre of AP to the waterline as fraction of the draught related to the
heeling angle = φ/φD×0.26+0.30, with 0.50 ≤ C3 ≤ 0.83;
• γ = specific gravity of water, in (t/m3);
• V = lateral velocity, in m/s, to be taken as 2.57 (5 kn);
• AP = lateral projected area, in (m2), of the underwater hull.
• r = transverse distance, in (m), between the centreline and the towing point, to be taken as
zero when the towing point is at the centreline;
• LS = longitudinal distance, in (m), from the aft perpendicular to the towing point;
• LPP = length between perpendiculars, in (m);
• φ = angle of heel;
• f = freeboard amidships, in (m);
• B = moulded breadth, in (m);
• h = vertical distance, in (m), from the waterline to the towing point;
• d = actual mean draught, in (m);
• ∆ = displacement, in (t);
• The towing point is the location where the towline force is applied to the ship. The towing
point may be a towing hook, staple, fairlead or equivalent fitting serving that purpose.

Analysis of the formula shows that the heeling moment is built up by hydrodynamic drag
force multiplied with the tow-tripping arm (vertical distance between towing point and
assumed vertical centre of lateral resistance). The hydrodynamic drag force in upright
condition can be written as ½×γ×V2×AP×C1, where C1 denotes the drag coefficient. The
associated tow-tripping arm can be written as h+0.5×d (tug in upright condition). In order to
account for the effect of the heeling angle on the hydrodynamic drag force the empirical
coefficient C2 is introduced, representing the increase of underwater lateral area as the
heeling angle increases, while the expression of the tow-tripping arm evolves into h×cosφ-
r×sinφ+C3×d, with C3 an empirical coefficient to account for the vertical shift of the centre of
lateral resistance as function of the heeling angle. The lateral traction or drag coefficient C1 is
a function of the ratio of the longitudinal distance from the aft perpendicular to the towing
point and length between perpendiculars (note: length of waterline in USCG circular). All
three coefficients Ci have been determined by model tests [18]. Model test results with
modern tugs show similar values for the drag coefficient, although it should be noted that hull
shape, appendices (skeg) and thruster arrangement do influence the drag coefficient.

The coefficient C1 varies between 0.1 for a towing point at approximately 7% of LPP and 1.0
for a towing point forward of approximately 39% per cent of LPP, with linear interpolation
applied in between (note: the model tests conducted for the USCG research indicate that for a
towing point located aft of approximately 25% of the waterline length a steady heel condition
is not possible). The decreasing value of C1 with decreasing distance between the towing
point and the aft perpendicular can be understood by considering that the longitudinal
distance between the towing point and the lateral centre of resistance is increasing. This
causes the tug to yaw, therewith reducing the lateral resistance (drag).

From the NVIC guidelines it also becomes clear that the validity range of coefficient C1 is
limited to a maximum distance of the towing point forward of the aft perpendicular of
approximately 60% per cent of LPP [18]. While this range encompasses conventional tugs
with fixed propulsion system, typical operations on modern tugs – e.g. ASD tugs working
over the bow – fall outside this range, making the application of the tow-tripping criterion
somewhat problematic. As discussed above, the C1 curve is capped at a value of unity near
the midship area. In order to find C1 for a more forward located towing point additional
model tests would have to be performed. Obviously C1 will reduce with the towing point
moving forward, but generally it will not be a symmetrical curve due to hull shape variations
(including appendices and thrusters).

The associated stability criterion states that the first intersection between the righting lever
curve and the heeling lever curve should occur at a heeling angle of less than the angle of
down-flooding (φf, see previous section for further details regarding the definition of down-
flooding points). This is surprising, as the angle associated with the first intersection
represents the quasi-static equilibrium position after dynamic effects have played out. If this
angle is limited by the down-flooding angle only, this would imply that, due to the dynamic
effects inevitably associated with a tow-tripping event, it is very easy to immerse unprotected
openings; not exactly a safe situation…

Given the underlying mechanism of dealing with an accidental situation, which in that respect
is comparable to the self-tripping mechanism, it would probably make sense to apply a
similar stability criterion as adopted for self-tripping. In fact, the recommended tow-tripping
criterion in the original NVIC circular states that the vessel should have positive residual
righting energy and a static angle of heel no greater than the angle of down-flooding on the
basis of a constant heeling moment [18]. The first part of the criterion seems to have been
omitted in the various national regulations proposed by flag states for the IMO tow-tripping
criterion [19]. As argued above, an energy balance based criterion is definitely relevant and
also consistent with the self-tripping criterion.

When comparing typical self-tripping and tow-tripping heeling lever curves (and associated
criteria) for a modern ASD tug, it becomes clear that self-tripping is generally governing, see
figure 5. This is an observation which confirms the approach of the Bureau Veritas guidelines
[6]. As a consequence, the tow-tripping criterion in its current format is not going to be very
relevant, except possibly for low-powered tugs with fixed propulsion. Having said that, tug
incident reports demonstrate that tow-tripping is frequently the actual failure scenario. For the
further development of the tow-tripping criterion, it would therefore make sense to analyse
actual incidents in order to better reflect the circumstances which need to be taken into
account – an observation also made in the NVIC circular [18]. Speed through water, currently
set at 5 kn, will be a key point to verify, in particular when considering that the port approach
speed of large container ships is typically much higher than that. As the impact of speed on
the towline force is quadratic, this could significantly lift the heeling lever curve. An example
is given in figure 6, in which also the same criterion as used for self-tripping is applied. It
also seems worth investigating the actual heeling mechanism in further detail, in particular in
the initial stage of the event as the towline force is suddenly applied to generate a highly
dynamic response (e.g. relationship between heeling and yawing motion). Furthermore, in
line with comments made previously in this section, additional research work is also
necessary to investigate the drag coefficients associated with more modern towing operations
(e.g. ASD tug working over bow, tractor tug working over stern). Both model testing and
computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis can be very helpful to study the relevant
phenomena.

Figure 5: Typical self-tripping and tow-tripping heeling lever curves for a modern ASD tug
(aft towing point).

Figure 6: Tow-tripping heeling lever curves at 5 and 8 kn speed, with application of energy
balance criterion used for self-tripping (8 kn).
As mentioned above, low-powered conventional tugs may have an issue with regard to
compliance. As the tow-tripping criterion is further developed to become more realistic
through the application of an energy balance requirement, it could be used to define a
maximum safe speed limit at which a particular tug is permitted to perform towing
operations. This method also has the potential to mitigate safety issues on existing (low
powered) tugs. An application example for a conventional twin screw tug is given in figure 7.

Figure 7: Maximum safe operating speed (through water) for conventional twin screw tug
based on energy balance requirement.

Figure 8: Escort tug equilibrium position (ASD tug) [11].

ESCORT STABILITY
The heeling lever for escort operations is to be obtained from the evaluation of the possible
equilibrium positions determined by the combined action of the hydrodynamic forces acting
on the tug’s hull and appendages, the thrust force and the (resulting) towline force, as shown
in figure 8 [11]. For each equilibrium position the corresponding steering force, braking force
and heeling moment (heeling lever associated with the heeling angle) are to be obtained from
the results of full scale trials, model tests or numerical simulations in accordance with a
methodology acceptable to the administration [11]. For each relevant loading condition the
evaluation of the equilibrium positions is to be performed over the applicable range of escort
speeds (speed of the assisted ship through the water), which is typically from 6 to 10 knots –
although large high powered escort tugs may operate at higher speeds [11]. For each relevant
combination of loading condition and escort speed, the maximum heeling lever – to be taken
as constant for the purpose of the stability calculation – is to be used for the evaluation of the
stability particulars [11].

The methodology for obtaining the heeling lever for escort operations is directly based on the
Bureau Veritas guidelines [6]. In line with these guidelines, the IMO regulations also
acknowledge that numerical simulations may be applied to obtain the heeling lever, as long
as the applied methodology is acceptable to the administration (flag state). In this respect
reference is made to the Bureau Veritas guidelines, which include a set of requirements an
escort performance prediction methodology needs to comply with in order to be accepted by
class for the evaluation of the escort stability (see NI617, Sec 2, paragraph 3.5) [6]. To that
end, the basic assumptions and theoretical models underlying the software are to be presented
in detail, including [6]:
• Computation of hydrodynamic lift and drag computation (hull and appendices);
• Modelling of thrust forces;
• Interaction effects between hull, skeg and (steerable) propulsion units;
• Flow separation effects;
• Water pile-up effects;
• Effects of waves and/or swell;
• Dynamic effects before a steady state is reached (e.g. during initiation and turning
manoeuvres) and scaling effects (if any).

Moreover, a validation report, containing comparisons between the results of simulations and
model test of full scale trials is to be submitted, as well as a description of the input and
output data [6].

There are three stability criteria associated with escort towing [6,11]:
• Area A, defined as the area under the righting lever curve measured from heeling angle φe
to a heeling angle of 20 degrees, is at least 125 per cent of area B, defined as the area
under the heeling lever curve measured from the heeling angle φe to a heel angle of 20
degrees, whereby φe represents the equilibrium heeling angle corresponding to the first
intersection between heeling lever curve and the righting lever curve;
• Area C, defined as the area under the righting lever curve measured from the zero heel (φ
= 0) to φd, is at least 140 per cent of area D, defined as the area under the heeling lever
curve measured from zero heel (φ = 0) to the heeling angle φd, whereby φd represents the
heeling angle corresponding to the second intersection between heeling lever curve and
the righting lever curve or the angle of down-flooding or 40 degrees, whichever is less;
• The equilibrium heeling angle φe is to be not higher than 15 degrees.

The area ratio criteria are visualised in figure 9. It is important to recognise that the escort
stability criteria need to be more stringent than the self-tripping and tow-tripping criteria due
to the non-accidental character of the escort equilibrium positions for which the (quasi-static)
heeling lever is evaluated. Further clarifications regarding the criteria are provided by De
Jong in his ITS 2010 and 2014 papers [4,5].

Figure 9: Escort stability area ratio criteria [11].

The Bureau Veritas guidelines recommend that the results of the escort performance
simulations are presented in the form of diagrams showing the envelope of the (steady state)
combinations of steering and braking forces, covering the applicable speed range and loading
conditions, as obtained from the simulations [6]. Such diagrams are usually referred to as
polar plots or butterfly diagrams (the latter due to the butterfly shape of the envelope curve at
higher speed), see figure 10, and are very useful information to the master regarding the
escort capabilities and limitations of the tug. This is further highlighted in a specific
paragraph in the Bureau Veritas guidelines requiring that additional operating information to
be provided in the stability booklet in relation to the design limitations, with particular focus
on [6]:
• Design operating area and environmental conditions for performing escort operations;
• The maximum escort speed;
• A table with permissible values of heeling angle and steady towline force as function of
loading condition and escort speed based on the rated steering and braking forces;
• Instructions to the master regarding the handling of the escort tug and the associated
towing equipment, demonstrating the implementation of effective means to limiting the
steady towline force and heeling angle within the permissible limits and the use of the
emergency quick-release device.

Adjustable audible or visible alarms, providing a warning to the master when the heeling
angle or steady towline force exceeds their respective permissible values, in combination
with appropriate handling instructions are considered as effective means with regard to the
instruction to the master [6]. Furthermore, the table with permissible values of heeling angle
and steady towline force as function of loading condition and escort speed is to be displayed
in the wheelhouse next to the control desk or another appropriate location [6].

Figure 10: Example of butterfly diagram of an ASD escort tug (courtesy of Robert Allan Ltd).

Further improvements for establishing safe operating limits to the master of the escort tug can
be made. A valuable precedent for that has been developed for anchor handling stability and
included in part B, paragraph 3.8 of the amended 2008 IS Code, which define a traffic light
based colour coding to define the operational (green), cautionary (amber) and stop work (red)
zones [11]. The cautionary zone represents the transition between the normal operating zone
and the stop work zone, in which the master is to attempt to bring the vessel’s stability
particulars back inside the green zone. If this attempt fails and the red zone is entered, work is
to be stopped. A similar approach can be applied for escort tugs, whereby the boundaries
between the green and amber zone and between the amber and red zones are to be redefined
in terms of heeling angle, which can be verified with a (certified) inclinometer fitted in the
wheelhouse and equipped with relevant colour codes and alarms. The Bureau Veritas tug
guidelines already require fitting of an inclinometer (see NI617, Sec 3, paragraph 2.9) [6].

Making used of the established stability criteria described above the red zone could in theory
be described as any heeling angle higher than the maximum permissible heeling angle –
defined by the heeling angle corresponding to the maximum permissible heeling moment or
15 degrees, whichever is less. The amber zone would then be a range of heeling angles below
the maximum permissible heeling angle, which should be wide enough to allow the master to
take measures (reduce thrust, change thruster angle or release towline) in order to reduce the
heeling angle back within the green zone. The green zone would then be the range of heeling
angles between the zero and the maximum permissible heeling angle minus the range
necessary for the amber zone (e.g. 3 degrees). Although this approach could work from a
theoretical point of view, it may be operationally too restrictive as the area ratio criteria have
been established on the basis of realistic non-accidental equilibrium conditions and not on the
basis of accidental situations like the self-tripping criterion. That said, in case the cautionary
zone goes beyond the maximum heeling angle defined by the area ratios, it is necessary to
develop additional criteria based on accidental situations in order to ensure sufficient stability
margin against capsizing. In principle a single failure or unexpected event should not lead to
a capsize event. A consistent approach would be to apply an energy balance criterion similar
to the self-tripping criterion on the basis of actual failure scenarios, which can be established
on the basis of a comprehensive risk analysis. A combination of a hazard identification
(HAZID) workshop and failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) provides a structured
approach using the input of subject matter experts to ensure that all relevant failure modes are
detected and dealt with. In order to determine whether the effect of a failure is acceptable, use
can be made of dynamic escort simulations as demonstrated by De Jong et al in their
Tugnology ’13 paper [20]. Possible scenarios to investigate include (partial) thrust
breakdown (e.g. engine failure), parting of the towline, steering errors (thrust direction) and
sudden increase in the towline force due to dynamic effects in waves or manoeuvring. The
applicable criterion for dynamic simulations is that open openings should not be immersed
during (dynamic) heeling. Based on the results of a comprehensive risk analysis a more
practical approach can subsequently be developed by defining a set of heeling levers
associated with the most severe failure scenarios and imposing an energy balance criterion.
Indicative examples of how such simplified method could look in practice are provided in
figures 11 and 12 for the loss of thrust and parting towline failure scenarios, respectively. In
these examples it is assumed that the boundary between the amber zone and the red zone is
set at 5 degrees above the heeling angle associated with the escort stability criteria described
in the beginning of this section.

Figure 11: Indicative energy based escort stability criterion for ASD tug based on loss of
thrust scenario (5 degree amber zone)

Figure 12: Indicative energy based escort stability criterion for ASD tug based on parting
towline scenario (5 degree amber zone)
It should be noted that the failure scenarios and therefore the accidental heeling moments and
lever curves will differ for different propulsion and towing arrangements. Furthermore,
depending on the level of uncertainty regarding the failure scenarios (heeling lever
description, dynamic effects, etc.) and available reaction time it may be necessary to build in
an additional safety factor in the energy balance criterion to ensure sufficient margin against
capsizing within the cautionary zone (e.g. A ≥ 1.4×B) or amend the width of the amber zone.
Analysis for the example vessel, a modern ASD tug, shows that a 5 degree amber zone is
reasonably consistent with setting the escort area ratio C/D to 1.00 (instead of 1.40) and
application of the self-tripping criterion A = B on the basis of a constant heeling lever, as
shown in figure 13. These methods could therefore be taken as a basis for further work to
establish a rational second boundary (amber to red zone).

Figure 13: Indicative methods for setting the second escort operability boundary (C/D = 1.0
and A = B for constant heeling lever; self-tripping limit included for reference)

In addition to the application of a theoretical energy based stability criterion to cover


accidental situations, it would make sense to also consider deck immersion and crew
workability limits (maximum heeling angle) in order to define the boundaries between the
zones, in particular for the transition from the green zone to the amber zone. Deck immersion
often acts as a kind of “natural” boundary for operations (in fact, it is regularly applied as
operational limit in simulation based escort performance studies). Moreover, the SafeTug JIP
also reported on tug workability limits based on feedback from tug masters on actual
operations and model tests [21]. Although some generalities can be derived, it should be
noted that workability limits depend on design (propulsion and towing arrangement, layout of
openings, etc.), operating profile and crew experience and may therefore have to be selected
on a case-by-case basis – in particular for more specialised escort tugs.

STABILITY OF INNOVATIVE TUG DESIGNS


In recent years several novel tug concepts have been launched and found their way into the
market. Driven by growing demand for terminal tugs, which are typically required to perform
escort duties and regularly operate in exposed waters, hull forms have been optimised to
improve stability, seakeeping characteristics and indirect towing capability and tugs have
been equipped with high specification escort winches. Furthermore, new propulsion concepts
have been introduced with a view to improve manoeuvrability, controllability and escort
performance. Configurations whereby the propulsion units are distributed longitudinally
along the tug – effectively blending the traditional tractor and stern drive concepts, while also
creating new operational functionalities – are demonstrating their value. Innovation in towing
equipment, such as the use of freely rotating winches and fairleads, has further increased the
freedom for designers to develop highly sophisticated integrated tug concepts. Examples of
tugs falling within this category include RotorTug, Carrousel-RAVE Tug and EDDY tug,
among others. The proper evaluation of the intact stability particulars of novel tug designs
requires special attention, as coefficients developed for more “standard” designs within the
context of the harmonised stability standards described in the previous sections have limited
validity. This section is intended to provide guidance on how the stability criteria can be
adjusted to reflect specific design characteristics.

When considering self-tripping, the key point is to recognize that the coefficient CT needs to
be further developed to include multiple propulsion units along the length of the tug. As most
designs make use of either azimuth thrusters (Z-drive) or Voith-Schneider Propulsion (VSP),
tugs fitted with multiple thrust units along the length can generate considerable thrust and
therefore towline force in transverse direction. There are two relatively straightforward ways
to approach this configuration. The first approach is to consider the total transverse towline
force as the sum of the towline forces generated by aft and forward propulsion units
individually, assuming that they can be considered independent. For illustrative purposes an
example of a tug with two azimuth thrusters located forward, a single azimuth thruster
located aft and three towing points is shown in figure 14. Making use of the dimensions
provided in the figure the self-tripping criterion can be further developed as follows for the
towing point i (i = 1, 2, 3):
1
& '()*+,,-+ × × 3ℎ0,,-+ × cos − 0 × sin 4
1 + /0,,-+ ⁄ 11
, ",#$% =
×∆
0.9
& '()*+,-78 × × 3ℎ0,-78 × cos − 0 × sin 4
1 + /0,-78 ⁄ 11
, ",$56 =
×∆

, " = , " ,,-+ + , " ,-78


where,
• FThrust,aft = total available thrust (force), in (t), generated by the aft azimuth thruster;
• FThrust,fwd = total available thrust (force), in (t), generated by the forward azimuth thrusters.

Figure 14: Sketch of tug design with longitudinally distributed azimuth thrusters (one aft, two
forward) and three towing points
As there is only one thruster located aft, the coefficient 0.9 – accounting for the maximum
thrust assumed to be directed transversely by two thrusters mounted side by side – is to be
omitted [5]. If all three azimuth thrusters have the same power FThrust,fwd = 2×FThrust,aft. Under
the assumption that the towing the towing point under consideration is located at centreline
(ri = 0) the expression for the heeling lever can be consolidated as follows:
1 0.9
& '()*+,,-+ × < × ℎ0,,-+ + 2 × × ℎ0,-78 = × cos
1 + /0,,-+ ⁄ 11 1 + /0,-78 ⁄ 11
, " =
×∆
In case the towing point is located between the aft and forward propulsion units it is possible
to generate a stable equilibrium, effectively towing in transverse direction. In such case the
second approach, requiring equilibrium of forces and moments in the horizontal plane should
be applied additionally. By maximizing the thrust at one location, demanding horizontal
plane moment equilibrium around the towing point under consideration yields the applied
thrust at the other location. In case the aft transverse thrust is maximized, the available
forward transverse thrust then becomes:
/ ,,-+
&>??@0A8 +'()*+,-78 = & '()*+,,-+ ×
/ ,-78
Consequently, the heeling lever can be calculated as follows (assuming zero transverse offset
of the towing point):
/ ,,-+
& '()*+,,-+ × <ℎ0,,-+ + × ℎ0,-78 = × cos
/ ,-78
, " =
×∆

In case the towing point is located exactly halfway between two single propulsion units of
equal power and vertical position the heeling lever become as follows (FThrust,aft = FThrust,fwd =
0.5×FThrust,total):
0.5 × & '()*+,+E+,@ × ℎ0 + 1 × ℎ0 × cos & '()*+,+E+,@ × 1 × ℎ0 × cos
, " ≈ =
×∆ ×∆

In this example the total installed power can be utilised to heel the tug (compare CT =1 in the
self-tripping heeling lever formula).

In case the towing point coincides with the longitudinal position of the aft or forward
propulsion units and assuming equal power and vertical position of both units the heeling
lever can be written similarly as:
0.5 × & '()*+,+E+,@ × ℎ0 + 0 × ℎ0 × cos & '()*+,+E+,@ × 0.5 × ℎ0 × cos
, " ≈ =
×∆ ×∆

In this example only 50 per cent of the installed power can be utilised to heel the tug
(compare CT =0.5 in the self-tripping heeling lever formula). In fact, only the thruster with
the same longitudinal position as the towing point will contribute to the heeling moment,
reducing the problem to a two dimensional one (the other thruster only induces a yaw
motion).

Adaption of the formula’s for tow tripping is more complicated, as the empirical expressions
have limited validity, in particular with regard to variations in hull form and longitudinal
position of the towing point. Effectively, new model tests or CFD analysis would be required.
One conservative way of eliminating the impact of the longitudinal position of the towing
point would be simply to set coefficient C1 to unity. That said, as novel tug generally have
high installed propulsion power, it is unlikely that tow tripping at relatively low speed will be
governing the stability of these advanced high performance tugs.

For the assessment of the escort stability particulars of novel tug designs tailored solutions
may be necessary to account for advanced propulsion systems and towing equipment. A good
example is the Carrousel-RAVE Tug (CRT) shown in figure 14. This design is equipped with
two longitudinally distributed VSPs and a towing winch freely rotating along a rail mounted
around the circular wheelhouse.

Figure 14: Carrousel-RAVE Tug (Courtesy of Novatug)

For this design a tailored set of stability criteria has been developed to account for the
specific operational profile and its mechanical behaviour. The design has been specifically
developed for safe operations with high transverse towline forces, (relatively) high heeling
angles and high escort speed. Use has been made of both model test results and numerical
analysis to draw up and validate the criteria.

CONCLUSION
At the 97th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in November 2016 the amendments
to the 2008 Intact Stability Code, including towing and escort stability have been adopted.
With this important step the long anticipated harmonisation of stability criteria for tugs has
(finally) become reality. The new regulations will create a level playing field for the industry
and can be positively applied to enhance the safety in tug design and operation. Three sets of
criteria have been included: self-tripping towing stability, tow-tripping towing stability and
escort stability, whereby the self-tripping and escort related criteria have been based on the
Bureau Veritas “Safety Guidelines for Design, Construction and Operation of Tugs” (NI617,
July 2014), which have been developed in the wake of the SafeTug JIP [6]. Although the new
regulations officially enter into force on 1 January 2020, Bureau Veritas is already in the
process of implement IMO criteria into its classification rules and has already applied the
self-tripping and escort criteria to various new tug designs.

While application of the harmonised criteria is straightforward for standard tug designs, the
regulations are open enough to be adaptable to innovative new designs. Some examples have
been included for some advanced propulsion configurations (with particular focus on
longitudinally distributed propulsion units). For more out-of-the-box designs a more tailored
approach – still based on the same safety principles – is needed.
Although the new regulations are certainly workable, there is room for improvement.
Particularly the tow-tripping criterion seems in need of further development, as dynamic
effects are currently not accounted for and the applicability of the empirical drag coefficient
is limited to conventional tugs. Suggestions for improvement have been proposed, as well as
an extension of the use of the tow-tripping to define the maximum safe operating speed of
tugs. In any case, for modern high powered tugs the self-tripping criterion will normally be
governing.

With regard to escort stability special attention should be paid to improving operator
guidance. A proposal for a traffic light inspired zones has been made, which consists of a
green (operational) zone, an amber (cautionary) zone and a red (stop work) zone. The main
challenge is to define appropriate boundaries between the zones. An indicative approach is
provided to apply supplement the area ratio criteria – functioning as boundary between the
green and amber zones – with an additional energy based stability criterion based on failure
scenarios to ensure sufficient margin against capsizing in the amber zone, which can then be
defined as a fixed heeling range on top of the normal operating maximum (green zone).
Additional natural boundaries like deck edge immersion and workability limits should be
considered as well.

All in all a comprehensive international regulatory framework has been developed for tug
stability that is technically consistent, pragmatic in its application and open to innovation.
Given the focus on tug safety and stability expressed at the preceding ITS and Tugnology
conferences, this milestone can be considered as a positive response to a long standing
industry commitment to safety and the need for a level playing field. That said, further work
should be undertaken to advance the standards and bring additional value to the towing
industry.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The author would like to specifically thank Vince den Hertog for his positive contribution to
the discussions on tug stability and forward thinking with regard to enhancing operational
safety. Furthermore, the author wishes to express his gratitude to Eleni Poupaki for sharing
her insight and experience with regard to the background and application of ship stability
regulations.

REFERENCES
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