||Captain Henk Hensen
||The Nautical Institute
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When ships are assisted by tugs, experience, teamwork, communication and above all insight into the capabilities and limitations of ships and attending tugs are essential for safe and efficient shiphandling. This applies to the tug captain and his crew as well as the shipmaster and pilot, particularly nowadays as older conventional tugs are increasingly being replaced by modern types with larger engine powers and increased capabilities. Reputable shipyards build good tugs, and designers can predict how well their tugs will perform. However, they do not handle ships themselves and have not experienced the tug assistance required: not in a river, channel or port approach nor in a confined harbour basin, not during a storm or in strong currents nor in the middle of a foggy night. Not even during nice, calm weather. These are the situations and conditions in which pilots and tug captains have to handle ships. So it is essential that they know what can be expected from a tug in any specific circumstance. Only when these professionals are fully aware of the capabilities and limitations of the various types of tugs in general and of an individual tug, including the effects on an assisted ship, are they able to utilise tugs in the safest and most effective way and in harmony with a ship's manoeuvring devices.