We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Ship Assist?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When a large ship is piloted or guided into harbor or port with the assistance of a barge or tugboat, it is known as a ship assist. Ship assists are a vital part of maritime commerce, and they are offered at most major harbors, since large ships would be unable to dock without support. Numerous firms offer ship assist services, often at a multitude of ports so that customers can work with the same company in multiple places. In some regions, a ship assist is also called an escort.

Many consumer goods are moved by ship all over the world. The ships which carry consumer goods are gigantic, designed to carry huge loads of shipping containers which are dropped off in port and then trucked or transported by rail to other locations. These large ships tend to be very difficult to maneuver, as they are built for size, not speed and a small turning radius. On the open ocean, this is not an issue, but in harbor, it can become a liability.

As a result, many large ships are actually towed into harbor by small, highly maneuverable, very strong boats such as tugboats. Typically, a large ship will be boarded by a pilot when it approaches a harbor. The pilot actually steers the ship into port, since he or she is extensively familiar with the features and hazards of the harbor. If necessary, the pilot teams up with tugboats or barges to move the ship into place in the harbor.

Tugboats and barges work in a number of ways. Some tugs actively pull a ship, essentially using their extremely powerful engines to tow the ship. Others may push, rather than pulling, and tugboats usually work in teams or groups so that they have total control of the larger vessel. A tugboat is designed to be easy to maneuver, so that the boat can respond quickly to an assortment of situations which may arise during a ship assist. Conventionally, it is polite for other craft in the harbor to yield to a ship which is being towed, and also to give way to larger vessels in general.

A ship assist may also be offered to a distressed ships. Distressed ships may have lost power or steering ability, rendering them unable to reach safe port. Specialized tugs are designed for the open ocean so that they can reach these ships and bring them, along with their crews, to safety.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon291582 — On Sep 15, 2012

Is it only a pilot who brings a ship in to port or can a harbor master also do this task? Are they one in the same? There is a carton riding on this bet.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.