Even during a busy day in the port of Hamburg, Germany, the harbor tug Peter may spend a fair amount of time idling. But when there’s work to do, it has to be done right now. There’s no room for delays or missteps.
For tugs like the Peter, the job is all about anticipation and instant response. Captain Fritz Ibendahl knows he can count on his experienced two-man crew to jump into action, and he depends on his vessel’s twin Cat 3516 engines to deliver instant power and turn-on-a-dime maneuverability.
Fast Reflexes and Total Reliability
A harbor tug’s work involves a balance of ballet-like positioning and brute strength. Ibendahl has to be able to pivot his boat within a meter of a towering ship, then apply exactly the right amount of the Peter’s 70 tons of bollard capacity with precision control.
“The maneuverability of this vessel is extremely good,” Ibendahl says, “and the engine power in my opinion is absolutely right for this harbor application. I previously operated vessels with different engines, for example with turbochargers, where you had to consider the delay in response.”
Those fast reflexes demand not only quick ramp-up behavior but also complete reliability from the engines. That’s a tough call for marine power plants that have to contend with the rugged conditions of harbor tug operations.
“This vessel has to be able to run in any type of weather conditions,” the captain explains. “Storms and strong currents occur here in the harbor, so the engines are essential for a successful outcome.”
Planning for Fuel Efficiency
As one of the strongest tugs in the busy port—and one of six vessels owned and operated by Peterson & Alpers, the oldest family-run tug service in Hamburg—the Peter has to be managed for fuel efficiency as well as on-demand power. That’s why Captain Ibendahl makes it a point to plan ahead. With 30 years of tug boat experience behind him, he always leaves plenty of time to cruise out to a waiting ship at the most efficient engine speed.
Then, when thousands of tons of ship and cargo are literally on the line, Ibendahl and his crew are confident that the Peter’s Cat engines will spring to life with the power they need to get the job done.