There are a number of systems available to connect a tug and barge at sea. They vary in experience from many years, to just a few months—from many applications, to just one application. We’d like to introduce you to the most commonly applied systems and some of the newer ones OT&BE has wide experience with many of these systems, and a full understanding of all.


The ARTUBAR system was the very first “axial” connection system. It is a single-degree-of-freedom system wherein the tug rolls with the barge, heaves with it at the connection point, but pitches independently. ARTUBAR utilizes a port and starboard, large diameter pin which is extended hydraulically from the tug hull. This pin is fixed in rotation relative to the tug hull, and it engages a pair of holes in the barge notch walls port and starboard. These holes are located approx. 7 feet apart vertically, and tend to be located at the loaded draft of the barge, the light draft, and the ballast draft. The barge holes are lined with bearing material such as Ultra-Poly or rubber. The large pin then rotates in this bearing material, relative to the barge, as the tug pitches. The pin does not bottom-out on the notch wall, and therefore, a small space is left between the tug and barge. Experience has shown that this space will allow the tug to slide back and forth and slam into the barge notch. Therefore, a recent modification of the system includes a set of pads port and starboard--aft of the pins--to fill this space and prevent such slamming.