AFO 952/1922.—Towing Operations—Precautions.

(N.L. 4380/22.— 7.4.1922.)

The Board have had under consideration questions of losses of vessels and other valuable property through towage at sea in stormy weather, and desire to draw the attention of all concerned to the need of taking special precautions in cases of long distance towage.

2. Attention is drawn to Home Dockyard Regulation 551, which prescribes reference to the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Station in question, for sailing orders to be prepared.

3. The Commander-in-Chief will not usually order such operations in winter (save of urgent necessity) unless the weather forecast shows the probability of settled weather. Prior to sailing the latest forecast should be obtained by telegraphic application to the Meteorological Office, Air Ministry, London, and during the voyage the Officer-in-Charge of operations should obtain weather reports at regular intervals by W/T.

4. The Commander-in-Chief will consider the necessity or desirability of arranging an escort of one or more of H.M. Ships, or of placing the Masters of the Tugs employed under the supervision of an experienced Naval Officer detailed for the purpose, who will be either in the tow or tug where he can best exercise general supervision.

5. Instructions should be issued as to the maintenance of communications at all times between tugs, tow and escort if provided.

6. Unless there are special reasons for doing otherwise, the departure of the tow should be arranged to ensure a safe offing being gained before nightfall. The Senior Naval Officers of intermediate ports should be notified of the sailing and the Officer-in-Charge of the operation should be given discretion in case of bad weather to shelter where most convenient, and, at intermediate Naval Ports where weather forecasts are available, to ask for instructions as to remaining or proceeding.

7. When a vessel or other craft is required to leave in tow from a port at which there is no Commander-in-Chief or Senior Naval Officer of the rank of Captain or above, the Officer-in-Charge of operations will report direct to the Admiralty when he has satisfied himself that the ship is in all respects ready for the intended passage. The Admiralty will give directions tor the issue of sailing orders, or will issue them direct, if necessary, and are to be kept fully informed by telegram regarding the movements of the ship in accordance therewith.

8. Lighters and similar vessels should be surveyed from a constructor's point of view before orders are given for their towage. Requests for professional assistance of Dockyard .Officers should be made for this purpose if the Officers responsible do not possess the requisite technical knowledge or are not satisfied as to the seaworthiness of the lighter or other craft to withstand the strains likely to be experienced while under towage.

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