People are just finding out why tug boats spray water into the air when towing ship

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The reason behind the stunt has come as a shock to people.

Published Feb 26, 2024, 13:55:05 GMTLast updated Feb 26, 2024, 13:54:08 GMT

The function of a tugboat isn't that glamorous, but you may notice it can add a bit of sparkle to its sail on the odd occasion while towing ships.

The vessels have the big responsibility of manoeuvring other boats which need a hand - whether that's by giving them a much-needed shove, or literally using a tow line to drag them through.

If a watercraft runs into a bit of trouble in a narrow canal or a crowded harbour, you're going to want to have a tugboat captain on speed dial to help you navigate the choppy waters.

They also double up as salvage boats and ice breakers, while also carrying emergency equipment to help those onboard if something goes awry.

That's on top of tugboats also moving barges, rigs, and navigating other ships in and out of port.

So in case you didn't know, they are a big deal.

Although you may have already have a new-found appreciation for tugs, finding out why they spray water in the air while towing a ship might just take it to that next level.

A clip of a tugboat leading the way for a huge cargo ship while blasting out water has been going viral on X (formerly known as Twitter) as it led people to discover the reason behind the flamboyant display.


Known as a 'water salute', it is a way for tugboats to either welcome or bid farewell to whichever large vessel is moving in or out of port - which surprised a few viewers.

One social media user said: "I never knew this was a thing."

Another joked: "You have to water the ocean so that it grows!" while a third added: "Finally, an answer that makes sense."

A fourth wrote: "Same thing is done for planes too, but with firetrucks."

While a fifth chimed in: "What a waste of water!"

It turns out that this spectacle is actually a sort of sign of respect in the maritime industry, which only happens on rare occurrences and is purely ceremonial.

Fire-fighting vehicles positioned on the side of the tug spray out plumes of water as a nod of appreciation.

Water salutes are also performed for planes.Getty stock photo

The tradition, which also takes place when an aircraft lands, is believed to have originated in the US in the 1950s and would be performed when military ships and planes departed or arrived.

It is most often used these days to commemorate the first voyage of vessels or the first flight of a new airliner, while organisers sometimes even add a dash of colour to the water to really make it stand out.

One X user also pointed out showering water everywhere helps to 'keep the bilges of the boats clean'.

The spectacle also helps wash away debris from the deck, cool the tugboats engines and increases stability.

It can also act as a means of communication to the ship it is towing, or could even be used as a distress signal to alert others the tug is in danger.

You really do learn something new everyday.

Featured Image Credit: X

Topics: Weird, Travel, Social Media, Twitter


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