Why Do Tug Boats Shoot Out Water? | LakeWizard

Tugboats can be seen shooting out water through their large water canons. But to the untrained eye, this action doesn’t serve a purpose. Or does it?

You may have seen tugboats spraying water on the Statue of Liberty. A similar phenomenon can also be seen in aircraft. Well! Aircraft do not spray water themselves, and two fire-fighting rings can be seen on the sides of the plane that do so. They collectively form an arc of water over the plane. So! Why does it happen?

The main reason why tugboats usually shoot out water is to keep the bilges of the boats clean. Occasionally, they may do so to commemorate a special event or welcome a superior ship to the harbor. If there's a fire on another vessel or at the port, tugboats shoot out water to put out the fire.

Tugboats are vessels whose primary function is to help other vessels move when they are unable to do it on their own. But, they are being used for a variety of other purposes as well. One such function is that of the life-saving boats. Since tugboats are smaller, they can easily make their way through narrow seaways, thus reaching the parts of the sea where large ships can't go.

Here we have discussed all the functions of tugboats, some of which are related to their spraying of water. Let's learn in detail why tug boats shoot out water.

Table of contents


What Do Tugboats Do?

As the name indicates, a tugboat is a watercraft that is designed for towing or tugging large vessels. These are usually small in size but have a strong body, enough to move large, heavy vessels. Well, maneuvering vessels is not the only function of tugboats. They are also used to perform many other important functions like:

  • They are used in breaking large icebergs due to their powerful ice-breaking hulls.
  • They are used as fire-fighting boats.
  • They are used in local waters to serve as salvage boats.
  • They are used as supply boats to carry supplies to other ships or places.
  • They are being used as entertainment vessels as well.

How Do Tug Boats Shoot Out Water?

Shooting out water is very easy for tug boats. Since they have plenty of water available beneath them, they simply draw it in with the help of motors and hoses and shoot it out through the large water cannons they are equipped with.

Why Do Tugboats Shoot Out Water?

There are a number of explanations for the tugboats shooting out water through their cannons, one reason being the boaters checking whether the water ejection systems of their boats work or not.

Some other reasons are:

To Fight Fires

Tugboats shoot out water when there is a fire around. The modern tugboats are equipped with excellent fire-fighting features, essentially transforming them into fire boats. The high-pressure water being ejected out of their cannons can quickly attack fire thus helping the warehouses on ports and large ships from the explosive fire break out.

Being on the sea, these boats have an unlimited water supply. Some highly-advanced tug boats can pump out hundreds of gallons of water per minute. Their highly sophisticated machinery helps to shoot out water up to 300 to 400 feet in the air.

To Cool Engine

To keep their massive engines cool and working, many tug boats have motors that take in seawater and shoot it out. Here, shooting out water is part of the cooling mechanism of the boats' engines. These boats employ water canons to pump the raw water up from the sea. During its pathway, the cold seawater flows around the coils which are filled with fresh water. While flowing in the pipes around the freshwater coils, the seawater acts as a coolant to dissipate the engine's heat energy.

To Celebrate

Tugboats shoot out water to mark a special event. According to what we've researched, this custom is known as a Water Salute. In such cases, the water can be both colored or colorless and is sprayed from the tugs' large fire-fighting water cannons. According to the boaters, it is a customary gesture of honor or celebration to;

  • Honor a special or respected vessel when it arrives at or departs from the port. It's almost similar to how an honor guard fires a 21-gun salute into the air to pay tribute to someone very special.
  • Celebrate a special and noteworthy event, for example, the eve of the new year. It's also a little like showering champagne or throwing confetti all-around at a party.
  • Perform a parade of ships for a specific holiday.
  • Celebrate the return of a partner boat from a long deployment.

To Empty Bilge

Tugboats frequently shoot water out of the boat to keep the bilge clean. Suppose a large volume of water has accumulated in the bilge of the ship over time. In that case, the bilge pump automatically keeps the bilge dry by evacuating all the water that has been accumulated here.

What Is The Bilge Of A Tugboat?

The bilge is the lowest point on the inside of the tugboat that is specialized to accumulate excessive water so that the water doesn't affect all other parts of the boat.

Why Does Water Accumulate In The Bilge?

Due to large waves in a rough sea, any seepage in the hull of the boat, or any spillage in the interior of the boat, the water collects up in the bilge of the boat. Since the powerful ice-breaking hulls of tugboats are used to break the ice, sometimes ice collects up and melts to form water in the bilge. This accumulated water contains oils, chemicals, and other substances due to internal spillage.

Why Must A Tugboat Empty Its Bilge?

A large volume of water accumulates in the bilge can make the boat lose its balance. Since the base of the boat becomes heavy, it affects the boat's buoyancy on the water. The boat may not pass the waves smoothly and lose its stability.

How Does A Tugboat Empty Its Bilge?

A tugboat empties its bulge through the large bilge pumps that pump water through the hoses and eject it out in the form of sprays through the water cannons.