Can A Tugboat Cross The Ocean?

Can A Tugboat Cross The Ocean

The short answer is, yes and no. In most cases, a tugboat cannot cross the ocean. But there are some exceptions where it can. We’ll explore those below.

Can A Tugboat Cross The Ocean?

River tugs can’t venture out into the vast, open waters of the globe; they’re meant only for rivers and canals. And while this may seem obvious at first glance, many people still ask whether or not these boats could make such a journey.

Though river tugboats cannot cross the ocean, sea tugs can travel a good distance across open waters. In fact, they regularly make crossings of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. These boats are built with a higher draft (or depth) than river tugs, so they sit higher in the water. This allows them to handle rougher seas and weather conditions.

Large ocean-going tugs, or ocean tugs, are specially designed to handle the open seas. They’re built with dual propellers and rudders, which make them better suited for use in deep waters. Ocean tugs can also have a very large bollard pull, which is the force needed to haul or tow large ships.

Reasons why a river tugboat can’t cross the ocean


Small size

River tugs are small ships. This is due to the fact that they are built for navigating swift currents rather than breaking waves.

High cost of maintenance

Aside from the danger, river tugs would also be too expensive to maintain in the open waters of the ocean.


Large ocean-going tugs are incredibly fast in comparison to river tugs. Ocean voyages are about time and efficiency, while rivers are all about navigating obstacles quickly.


While ocean-going tugs are not as seaworthy as large cargo ships, they are still much more seaworthy than river tugs. As such, ocean tugs can take on all types of weather conditions and heavy seas.

Too many unknown risks

Ocean tugs are built to take on unknown risks, such as icebergs and choppy waves. River tugs are not built to withstand these conditions. This is why river tugboats can’t cross the ocean.

Can an ocean-going tugboat cross the ocean?

Yes. As long as they have enough fuel and food, a crew that knows the voyage, and a high enough fee to justify the mission, ocean tugboats can cross the ocean.

The ocean tugboat is designed primarily for delivery or towing ships in port or between ports. They can be easily identified with their distinctive bow thrusters and three-bladed propellers at the stern.

Also, they have greater maneuverability, are more seaworthy, have excellent bollard pull. Their deep-V hull is specially designed to handle the open seas and high speeds without pounding and slamming into larger waves.

What is a river or harbor tug?

Tugs are important boats that you’ve likely seen before. They help in the mooring operation of a vessel by either towing or pushing it towards the harbor for unloading cargo and loading new ones. A river tug is just one type, and they can be found all over the world including Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and Australia.

River tugs are usually smaller craft, with engines that can push through shallow water and over sandbars, so they’re perfect for working rivers and harbors.

River tugs can be used on inland waterways too if they are deep enough. Like harbor tugs, they may also be push boats for barges.

What is an ocean tug?

An ocean-going tugboat, also known as a sea tug boat, sails on the big blue seas. It’s larger in size than harbor or river tugs which stay within port limits and are used to push barges around harbors.

Ocean tugs can be seen hauling cargo ships across oceans worldwide carrying everything from oil rigs to cruise liners to smaller boats like yachts. So if you see one of these large machines pulling something heavy through water somewhere nearby, you now know what it is.

In a short, an ocean-going tug boat is a ship that sails on the sea.

FAQs about the tug boat

How are tugboats powerful enough to tow vessels?

On average, a river tugboat has an engine between 680-3400 horsepower (500-2500 KW), but ocean tugs that venture out into the deep sea have engines with close to 27200 horsepower (20000 KW).

How fast can a tugboat go?

Tugboats can run at speeds up to 14-16 knots depending on the type and engine.

Are tug boats small?

Yes, they are small in size but can be strong enough to tow barges. Ocean-going tugboats are bigger in size than river tugs which are used to only navigate rivers. River tugs typically range from 20 to 30 meters in length. Ocean-going tugboats range up to 60 meters in length.

Do tugboats have sails?

A tugboat does not have sails to harness wind power although it has 2-3 propellers that are driven by diesel engines.

What is the difference between towboats and tugboats?

Tugboats and towboats are different vessels with distinct features. The towboat is a piece of watercraft that’s designed to operate in relatively shallow inland waterways, such as rivers. These boats have a flat hull and two tow knees at the front for pushing barges.

Tugboats have V-shaped hulls which allow them to maneuver easily through any waters or around other boats without damaging their propellers. They also have powerful engines capable of pushing large ships into docks with ease.

Bottom Line

According to the coast Guard experts, it is not possible for a river tugboat to cross the ocean. Why? The hull design these boats have makes them unsafe in open water. So if you are looking for something that can help tow your vessel across the sea then look no further than ocean tugs.

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Mr. KRP is the founder of, he has a great experience about life at sea. You can get in touch with him by email at

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