I was once master of a 1982 built Halter 180 footer in the Arabian Gulf. It had entered service as “Petromar Norseman” and was advertised by its American owners as “North Sea Ready” which it was not, but it was ideal for what it was built for, moving jack-ups in a benign environment. It had 3900 bhp available and a bollard pull of 40 tons.
I have also been master of a UT 704 MkIII the Star Polaris which was built in Norway in 1983, only one year later than the Petromar Norseman. It was powered by two nine cylinder Wartsila engines developing a collective 9000 bhp, giving it a bollard pull of 125 tons. It had two workdrums and was once able to recover a complete anchor wire from a Pentangone semi on one drum.
So my point is that there really used to be a difference between what was necessary in the North Sea, and what was necessary in more benign areas of the world. And if we are honest placing a ship very close to a fixed object out there is never really safe, no matter what sort of control system you’ve got.