The objective of the towage inspection is to ensure safety of life at sea, prevention of human injury and loss of valuable cargo that is being towed. To make sure the cargo loaded from safe berth at port “A” is safely transported to safe berth “B” in the same or another country, a towing inspection is required to be carried out onboard. The client or charterer will appoint an approved (Gov.) marine survey company to issue the fitness certificate for Safe Ocean towage according to the IMO guideline resolution A. 765(18).

In the region of UAE. Who can carry out an ocean towage inspection?

We, Constellation Marine Services are one of the Federal Transport Authority’s leading marine survey company utilizing the expertise Naval Architects, Master Mariners, Chartered Engineers and consultant surveyors who are ready to deliver professional service which complies with marine standards while still striving to exceed the client’s expectation.

A typical towage approval inspection will start with a Surveyor from Constellation Marine Services appointed to carry out towing inspection in, for example, Mina Saqr port or port of Fujairah.

The below is an enumeration of the sequence of events associated with this activity:

In our attendance, the loading was completed, barge and the towing tug was alongside double banked (Stbd. side to Stbd. side). The barge was loaded with cargo, as per draft survey report onboard the total loaded cargo was 15,580 MT. and the designated port of discharge at a foreign port with GCC state executing an international voyage.
The appointed surveyor inspected the condition of barge this inspection included: navigation lights, summer load line mark (plimsol line), towing gears such as smith bracket, shackles, chaffing chain etc., water tight integrity and emergency towing arrangement or barge towing arrangement.

Upon boarding the towing tug the following documents for barge and towing tug are checked onboard for their validity amongst other things.

1. certificate of registry
2. International load line,
3. International tonnage certificate,
4. P & I certificate,
5. H & M certificate,
6. Proof/ through load test certificate of towing arrangement (barge & tug).
7. Loose gear certificate of barge (Main & Emergency towing assembly).
8. Loos gear certificate for tug towing gears.
9. Towing winch manufacture certificate.

As per the instruction of attending surveyor, to the towing tug master connected the pennant wire of the main tow line of winch and heave up the delta plate for visual inspection. During this operation it was a challenging job for a master of the tug for heaving the delta plate and place it on the main deck of the tug, therefore, the master noticed that at an maximum haul of towing winch the delta plate and its corresponding lines got stuck and the master informed the attending surveyor, that he needed to board, Thereafter, the attending surveyor from Constellation Marine explained the reason why it may have been stuck and instructed the matter in professional way to resolve matter & assisted in all ways.

The reason why the main towing delta plate was stuck? And the master refused to heave up the delta plate because the master is aware of there will be pressure building on the towing connections (chaffing chain, bridle wire and pennant wire) and there is a chance for breakage of lines.

Therefore, the attending surveyor explained, the difficulties for heaving up delta plate is because the tug in double banked which is paralleling moored. In such case, the chaffing chain, bridle wire on the other end (port side of barge) will get stuck, since the EWL was 5X15 Mtrs. If Breadth of the barge is more than 22Mtrs.


The attending surveyor instructed the master of the tug to make an angle of 90 degree corresponding to the barge bow and slack the forward mooring lines to keep the tug in contact with barge and then heave up. Eventually the delta plate came out of the water and placed on the main deck for our complete inspection.

Once the delta plate was on the main deck, it had been noted that the barge port side bridle wire was disconnected with delta plate and eventually other shackle pins were loose. Thereafter the ship crew heaved the port side bridle wire with the help of tugger winch and reconnected with delta plate.

Delta Plate appeared without bridle wire

Pic # 1. Delta Plate appeared without bridle wire

After reconnecting the bridle wire with new split pins.

Pic # 2. After reconnecting the bridle wire with new split pins.

Thereafter, informed the chief officer to make other shackle pins tight and change with new split pins and inspected the main and emergency towing assembly arrangement and tug bollard pull adequacy to tow the fully loaded barge even in the rough se condition (swell height >2M).

Hence, towing inspections are important to save the client’s valuable cargo.


Prepared by
Engr. Syed Yasir Ahmed
Naval Architect /Marine Design Engineer