Steering powerful vessels pushing, towing ship and barges at seas at port areas require specialised skills
It may look like a game of bumper cars in water, but the role of a tugboat captain involves the art of piloting small vessels that help larger crafts get into tight spaces whose engines cannot run on full power. A tugboat captain also trains his crew on operations including communication with other vessels to ensure all functions are proceeding with precision.
Skills and traits of a tugboat captain
First things first, a tugboat captain has to be licensed. The good thing is this license takes a seafarer beyond just operating tug vessels. The same certificate qualifies the seafarer to engage in maritime rescue and relief work, boat chartering, maritime operations inland, near-coastal or offshore – to name a few.
A position of leadership, the captain’s authority extends over nearly every operation occurring onboard – from docking and undocking to maritime navigation, fleet repairs, equipment maintenance, including crew scheduling and discipline. The captain must be able to think ahead, and follow through on instructions, and possesses the ability to communicate professionally and effectively through various channels, including, email, radio and phone.
Maritime and instructional experience
Candidates must be able to take on tugs of various propulsions, have experience with various PSA marine tugboats such as Voith Schneider tractor, ASD Schottel and Aqua Master Propulsion from 300GRT, 3000BHP and 30 tonnes BP to 327 GRT, 5000 BHP and 60 tonnes BP. 1980 – 2005. Candidates must also have had experience assisting the Manager on the operational status of multiple PSA Marine tugboats. Lastly, he/she has trained and assessed prospective tug captains, and be a qualified simulator trainer at Singapore Polytechnic or in Maritime Studies.
Apart from tertiary education in Maritime Studies with respective Certificates of Competency, candidates must possess license in Port Limit Helsman and taking command of tugboats up to 500GRT, a port limit Class 2 engine license, and qualified to work as Chief Engineer (CE) for machineries up to 3,000KW.
Aspiring tugboat captains must be familiar with Singapore’s territorial waters and outside port limits and verifying the accuracy of courses using navigational aids. He/She should be able to use the craft’s navigational, fire-fighting and safety equipment; able to appreciate weather conditions, tides and tidal currents.
It is important to have good understanding of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) regulations and procedures, Port Marine circulars and notices, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea relating to Sailing and Steering Rules, Lights & Shapes carried by various crafts and ships and the sound signals and be able to perform basic chartwork. He/She monitors and anticipates potential problems that may arise during daily operations and alerts the relevant authorities to them. Other basics include being physically fit, familiar with surrounding waters, plus being trained in first-aid and emergency situations.
If you are looking to explore a career as a tugboat captain, possessing the necessary education and certifications would be of utmost importance. Aspiring tugboat captains can explore various training courses with Marine Online’s extensive network of providers.