What is the difference between a tugboat and a towboat?

Out on the water in Louisiana, you may see smaller boats assisting the larger boats. Some of these boats are tugboats while others are towboats. Each of these boats plays an important role is helping out larger boats and ships as they navigate on the waterways. However, do you know the difference between these two boats? You might be surprised to learn that the differences are rather obvious once you know the job of each boat.

According to the Tugboat Enthusiasts Society of the Americas, a tugboat has the main job of pulling larger ships to dock. They also assist with undocking of larger ships. They are a very strong and seaworthy type of boat. They have watertight doors, which makes them operational in even the roughest waters. When a ship has trouble getting into dock due to harsh water conditions, the tugboat can come and rescue it by offering an assist. Visually, the tugboat has deep water propellers, a pointy bow and a deep hull.

A towboat actually has a confusing name. It pushes boats rather than pulling. Sometimes, people call them push boats for this reason. They offer some assistance to other boats on inland waterways. You will not see them battling rough water because they are not watertight. They have a squared off bow that suits their job of pushing. They also have a flat-bottomed hull.

As you now know, just by looking at the boat, you should be able to easily see if it is a tugboat or towboat. Furthermore, if you see the boats on the water working, you also can identify what type it is easily. While the names may sound quite similar, these two boats are quite different. This information is for education and is not legal advice.