The British Tugowners Association is pleased to release a new guidance publication on Rope Selection, Procurement and Use for tow ropes.

Tow rope is the single most essential piece of equipment in the towage industry, providing the vital link between tug and tow. The understanding of tow ropes, their capabilities and characteristics is not an exact science and historically the industry has followed the adage, “bigger is better”.

The guidance sets out to dispel that myth and introduces a methodical framework for operators and rope manufacturers to use together and facilitate an informed discussion examining operational, environmental and technical characteristics to find the optimal towing solution.

The guidance further provides a harmonised framework for technical information contained on a towrope certificate. In examining tow rope certificates, the BTA found numerous variations and differences between manufacturers certificates. This made comparison and understanding between ropes difficult and impacts safety. This guidance harmonises information fields and detail which BTA members expect to see included on the certificate for a new tow and reissued/recertified tow rope.

The guidance introduces a new experimental Cost per Tow calculator for estimating Real Life Value of the tow rope which the BTA hopes will spur discussion and further enhancement.

Lastly, the guidance provides considerable general guidance on the use, maintenance, checking and retiring of tow ropes, including a rope inspection and retirement checklist and environmental importance of careful rope disposal.

James Burge from Svitzer commented,

The cheapest rope is rarely the most affordable rope in the real world, and purchasing choices appropriate for one vessel may be entirely unsuitable for another. ‘Rope Selection, Procurement and Usage Guidance’, published by the BTA, is a superb resource to guide readers through the operational life of a tow rope, from procurement to disposal.

Primarily targeted at non-mariners, it doesn’t seek to turn readers into experts, rather guide those involved in purchasing decisions to ask the right questions and seek quantitative answers from vendors and their colleagues at sea. The guidance also seeks to harmonize the language we use to describe the characteristics of a tow rope and the way we record information over the rope’s lifespan.”

Jacco van Snippenberg from Lankhorst Ropes commented,

“combining the expertise of rope makers, tug owners and the BTA has resulted in this great tool which will contribute to optimised safety, operational cost and quality across the board”

BTA Secretary Robert Merrylees commented,

“the BTA hopes that this guidance will enhance understanding between tug operators and rope manufacturers enabling better and more informed decisions to be made and safer towage operations.

I would like to thank the Technical Committee, and the expert assistance from the rope manufacturers involved in the project for their input.”

Comments and queries in relation to the guidance should be directed to Robert Merrylees,

1 Comment

Recovery of Persons in Water (PIW) Guide to Good Practice for Small Vessels – British Tugowners Association · 16 November 2022 at 3:58 pm

[…] The GTGP follows earlier publications for the BTA Technical Committee which include the Second Edition of the Pilot’s Pocket Guide and Checklist, released January 2022 (available here), and the BTA’s Rope Selection, Procurement and Usage Guidance for Tow Ropes, released July 2021 (available here). […]

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