[QUOTE=OK Corral;177415]I am a deckhand for on a ship assist tug. Last summer I was on a cruise and was amazed that this 980 ft long ship could maneuver with almost the same agility as our z-drive tractor tugs. The ship had ABB azipod thrusters which from what I can tell is very similar to the propulsion we have on our tugs. Anyways, this cruise ship never used a tug even in some of the tighter ports.
Now I can’t help but wonder…when will container vessels (and other large vessels) have the same capability? Obviously, s/b thrusters can only do so much but what this cruise ship could do was incredible. In our port we get one or two different cruise ships a week and they never use a tug. Do you envision in the near future that ship assist tugs will essentially become obsolete for routine docking and undocking work. I really don’t see how this could not be the next step in ship construction however, I have no engineering background so I’d like someone to prove me wrong.[/QUOTE]
The Cruise ships you have seen are probably Diesel/Electric powered with Pod propulsion and large bow thrusters. This is practical and economical because they usually call at a new port every day (or try to), many with no tug assistance available.
The other reason is that the hotel service requires large amount of power, which is supplied by the same multi-engine power plant.
Power requirement is dependent on whether the vessel is steaming or in port, the climate and whether day or night etc. The number of generators running depends on the need at any one time and is controlled by an automated Power Management System.
Container ships, bulkers and tankers etc. try to stay at sea as much as possible and on long voyages. The most economical propulsion system is a single slow moving Diesel engine, a large fixed pitch propeller and a slick hull with minimum of turbulence created by bow thruster tunnels etc.
Hence you find few very large bulkers/tankers with multiple propulsion engines and none with bow thrusters.
Container ships are different. Many very large container ships are twin screw and fitted with bow thruster(s), but not enough maneuverability to eliminate tugs entirely.
Conclusion: Your tug job is safe for the foreseeable future.