NWA: Addressing Skills Gap to Avoid Towage Incidents

In order to avoid incidents in the towage sector, further development and implementation of good practice guidelines and competence standards for port, coastal and ship-assist operations is needed.

The National Workboat Association (NWA) said that operators must be proactive in supporting the introduction of specialist qualifications to demonstrate competence, and making sure that Tug Masters have undertaken appropriate vessel-specific training to meet the demands of increasingly challenging logistical operations.

“Serious incidents in the towage sector thankfully remain few and far between,” Mark Ranson, Secretary of the NWA, said.

“However, with the practices of vessel operators continually evolving to support the changing demands of the market – and as recent incidents make clear – there can be no allowances for shortfalls in safety standards,” Ranson added.

Furthermore, Ranson informed that addressing the “skills gap” and ensuring that lessons learnt are effectively transferred “is the only way to reduce the risk of further fatal incidents.”

Aiming to scrutinise these incidents, at this year’s Seawork exhibition, the NWA is hosting a Safety Forum entitled Towage: Reducing the Risks – Raising the Standards. The forum will bring together workboat operators and safety specialists to analyse the root causes of a number of high-profile tug accidents and outline current efforts to improve industry-wide standards and qualifications.

Many towage incidents have been traced back to lack of familiarity with vessels and the specific operational demands of a particular towage operation, according to NWA.