Salvage tug
A salvage tug is a specialized type of tugboat
A tugboat is a boat that maneuvers vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal,or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for...

 which is used to rescue or marine salvage
Marine salvage
Marine salvage is the process of rescuing a ship, its cargo, or other property from peril. Salvage encompasses rescue towing, refloating a sunken or grounded vessel, or patching or repairing a ship...

 ships which are in distress or in danger of sinking, or which have already sunk or run aground.

Few tugboats have ever been truly fully dedicated to salvage work; most of the time, salvage tugs operate towing ships, barges, platforms, or other utility tugboat work.
Tugs fitted out for salvage are found in small quantities around the globe, with higher concentrations near areas with both heavy shipping traffic and hazardous weather conditions.

Salvage tugs are fitted with additional specialized equipment, including:
  • extensive towing provisions and extra tow lines/cables, with provisions for towing from both bow and stern and at irregular angles
  • extra cranes
  • pumps
  • firefighting gear
    • deluge systems
    • nozzles
    • hoses
  • mechanical equipment such as:
    • welding equipment
    • compressed air gear
    • diving equipment
    • steel for hull patches
    • common mechanical repair parts
  • And, of course, specialized crew experienced in salvage operations, called salvors.

While salvage tugs are still in use, ubiquitous radar and depth sounders, GPS, and proper charts have made normal ship operations orders of magnitude safer than they were even thirty years ago.
Ships are also much larger on the average than they were, and more damage resistant due to proper hull bulkheads
Bulkhead (partition)
A bulkhead is an upright wall within the hull of a ship or within the fuselage of an airplane. Other kinds of partition elements within a ship are decks and deckheads.-Etymology:...

, double bottom
Double bottom
A double bottom is a ship hull design and construction method where the bottom of the ship has two complete layers of watertight hull surface: one outer layer forming the normal hull of the ship, and a second inner hull which is somewhat higher in the ship, perhaps a few feet, which forms a...

s and double hull
Double hull
A double hull is a ship hull design and construction method invented by Leonardo da Vinci where the bottom and sides of the ship have two complete layers of watertight hull surface: one outer layer forming the normal hull of the ship, and a second inner hull which is some distance inboard,...

s, and more reliable machinery.
The total demand for salvage tug services is significantly down from its peaks in the years around World War II.

The increasing sensitivity of societies and legal systems to environmental damage and the increasing size of ships has to some extent offset the decline in the number of salvage operations undertaken. Accidents such as major oil tanker groundings or sinkings may require extreme salvage efforts to try and minimize the environmental damage (see Exxon Valdez oil spill
Exxon Valdez oil spill
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef and spilled of crude oil. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused...

, Amoco Cadiz
Amoco Cadiz
Amoco Cadiz was a very large crude carrier , owned by Amoco, that ran aground on Portsall Rocks, from the coast of Brittany, France, on 16 March 1978, and ultimately split in three and sank, all together resulting in the largest oil spill of its kind in history to that date.-Oil spill:Amoco Cadiz...

, Torrey Canyon
Torrey Canyon
The Torrey Canyon was a supertanker capable of carrying a cargo of 120,000 tons of crude oil, which was shipwrecked off the western coast of Cornwall, England in March 1967 causing an environmental disaster...

 and in general :Category:Oil spills).

One well-known nonfiction book about salvage tugs is the book The Grey Seas Under
The Grey Seas Under
The Grey Seas Under is a non-fiction book by well-known Canadian author Farley Mowat about the Atlantic Salvage Tug Foundation Franklin, operated by the firm Foundation Maritime in Canada's Maritime provinces from 1930 to 1948....

 by Canadian author Farley Mowat
Farley Mowat
Farley McGill Mowat, , born May 12, 1921 is a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books. He achieved fame with the publication of his books on the Canadian North, such as People of the...

 which follows the salvage career of the tug Foundation Franklin
Foundation Franklin
The SS Foundation Franklin was a sea-going salvage tug built for the Royal Navy in 1918 but most famous for many daring salvage operations and rescues while operated by Foundation Maritime between 1930-1949.- History :...


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