Salvage tug

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File:Brest - Abeille Bourbon.jpg
French salvage tug Abeille Bourbon which also serves as an emergency tow vessel (ETV)

A salvage tug is a specialized type of tugboat which is used to rescue ships which are in distress or in danger of sinking, or to salvage ships which have already sunk or run aground.


Few tugboats have ever been truly fully dedicated to salvage work; most of the time, salvage tugs operate towing barges, platforms, ships, or performing other utility tugboat work.

Tugs fitted out for salvage are found in small quantities around the globe, with higher concentrations near areas with both heavy shipping traffic and hazardous weather conditions.

Salvage tugs are used by specialized crew experienced in salvage operations (salvors). Their particular equipment includes:

  • extensive towing provisions and extra tow lines/cables, with provisions for towing from both bow and stern and at irregular angles
  • extra cranes
  • firefighting gear
    • deluge systems
    • hoses
    • nozzles
  • mechanical equipment such as:
    • common mechanical repair parts
    • compressed air gear
    • diving equipment
    • steel for hull patches
    • welding equipment
  • pumps

Modern development[edit]

The total demand for salvage tug services is significantly down from its peaks in the years around World War II.

The increasing sensitivity of societies and legal systems to environmental damage and the increasing size of ships has to some extent offset the decline in the number of salvage operations undertaken. Accidents such as major oil tanker groundings or sinkings may require extensive salvage efforts to try and minimize the environmental damage (see Exxon Valdez oil spill, Amoco Cadiz, Torrey Canyon and in general Category:Oil spills).

In popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

  • In 1943, Jacques Cousteau's team made the film Épaves (Shipwrecks), in which they used two of the very first Aqua-Lung prototypes. Subsequently, he investigated, filmed, and wrote about his experiences on numerous other wreck and salvage operations.
  • James Cameron's inspiration for making the film Titanic (1997) was predicated on his fascination with shipwrecks, and the film interweaves the stories of treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team, who explore the wreck of RMS Titanic, searching for a valuable diamond necklace called the Heart of the Ocean, and Titanic survivor Rose Dawson Calvert, who posed nude for a sketch Lovett salvaged, wearing only the Heart of the Ocean.
  • Ghost Ship a film about an ocean liner which disappeared in mysterious circumstances is discovered by a maritime salvage contractor. Tragity strikes the salvage crew as they discover the true secrets of the ship.

In television[edit]

  • In the CSI: Miami episode, "Dead Zone" (season 2, episode 2), Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and the CSI team investigate the murder of a sunken treasure hunter whose body is discovered pinned to the wall of his new cabin cruiser by a bloody spear from a spear gun fired at close range.[1]
  • Shipwreck Men (2013) is a reality TV series that follows crews who salvage and raise wrecked vessels.[2]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]