Part of the client’s requirements is that the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Küstenschutz coastal protection group, should also have two 4-strong Towing Assistance Teams (TAT), each consisting of four experienced sailors (one nautical officer and three ship’s mechanics), in addition to the emergency tugs. One team is responsible for operations in the North Sea, the other for the Baltic Sea.
If the crew of a damaged ship needs assistance in establishing an emergency towing connection or if a damaged ship has been abandoned by its crew, then the Towing Assistance Team will be deployed. There is round-the-clock operational readiness. The team will be transferred to the damaged ship by helicopter, tug, dinghy or some other means of transport. The North Sea team is on board the Nordic and can be deployed immediately. Two teams take turns, swapping every three weeks, regularly calling at the home harbour of Cuxhaven. The Baltic Sea team is land-based with a very short fixed set-up time. For their operations, the Towing Assistance Teams are equipped with personal protective clothing and wet suits for protection against the cold. They also have tools and material in their hand luggage to establish an emergency towing connection.
The helicopter transport to the damaged ship and the winching down onto the deck of the tug or the damaged ship is regularly practised. An agreement with the Bundeswehr Fleet Command enables unbureaucratic cooperation with the navy pilots, who are often welcome visitors to our tugs with their search and rescue (SAR) helicopters at any time of day or night and in any weather.
The advantage of this civil-military cooperation: Our Towing Assistance Teams are not only familiar with the various types of helicopters and thus well prepared for emergencies, but also the navy pilots fly their prescribed training workload for out-of-area missions.