Inland Push Tugs and Night Vision Optics Question

Anyone here try any night vision binoculars/goggles/etc working on tugs and barges? Any effectiveness/usefulness? In wheelhouse versus outside on barge?

Also, anyone aware of tech or similar that might be used in fog?

Was curious to try night vision optics to see how effective they might be but given how pricey they get I thought I’d see if anyone has already experimented with them first…


Night vision goggles provide a severely restricted field of view. Based on my own experience from the armed forces, basic tasks (moving around on foot, setting up a tent, etc) are surprisingly difficult with NVGs, because the narrow FOV detracts from overall situational awareness, to the point that you bump into stuff and so on. Vehicle operation of any kind is inherently dangerous with NVGs, and is only practiced under a strict training regimen with restrictions on speed, procedures and operating environment. It is an attainable skill, but far from a trivial one.

During navigation and pilotage, your job basically boils down to being aware of your surroundings, and employing a tool that sacrifices this for improved detail perception doesn’t sound like a good idea. On top of that, using NVGs destroys your night vision, and renders you blind for a good while in case of equipment failure. Not good if you’re navigating visually at night.

I have a bit of experience with FIR ("thermal) cameras on fast craft. They have some light haze penetration ability, and are good for spotting unlit heat signatures, but utterly useless for navigating and otherwise maintaining situational awareness. The tech you’re looking for is a RADAR set.

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Understood. I had more in mind a use for spotting on the barge (push tug) for dense fog in narrow channel situations and relaying info to wheelman than anything like a substitution for pilotage and radar. Sounds like this is impractical if not impossible. I have zero familiarity with NVG and FIR. Much appreciated.

We tried night vision binoculars while in High Risk Areas for piracy to help determine which radar trails were unlit small craft and which ones were false echoes.

The first issue we ran into is light from own ship. Even a small amount of light leaking out from the house interferes with vision further out.

Don’t know if that’d be an issue in your case of not. We never got a good chance to really try the equipment out, when I came back from vacation the binoculars were gone.