Voith Water Tractor

Voith Water Tractor

More than 860 vessels in 145 ports around the world provide ample proof: The Voith Water Tractor is ideally suited for a wide variety of tasks in everyday port operation. Engineered to perform like a worker bee on water, the complete vessel is developed, designed and built by Voith.

Conventional ship-handling and escorting of large cargo ships or tankers in confined ports is the core business of a Voith Water Tractor. In addition, Voith Water Tractors transport pilots to the vessels, are used during salvage operations and for firefighting. In short: They are perfectly suited for all maritime tasks where compact design, high maneuverability and precise steering are required.

Voith Water Tractors can turn on the spot and clearly are the world's most agile maritime worker bees. Their outstanding maneuverability ensures safety, reliability, promptness and precision in major ports: for example as fireboat in Los Angeles, as harbor tug with a bollard pull of 70 tons in the Israeli port of Haifa or as highly maneuverable ferry crossing the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey.

The propulsion system using Voith Schneider Propellers forms the heart of each Voith Water Tractor. Full speed ahead to full speed astern in three seconds: No other vessel propulsion system can keep up.

Conventional Design

A true classic.

The classic Voith Water Tractor design can be used with only a few
modifications for escort duties as well. Ship owners all over the world have
put this into practice successfully. An example is the Messico, one of the
largest water tractor from Voith Turbo Marine so far.

Saiba mais Sair

Skeg first Design

Innovative solution:

The "Skeg First Design" was developed specifically for escort duties in
close cooperation with our clients. This included steering modifications
such as the split control stand for longer escort distances.

The first Voith Water Tractor in "Skeg First Design" is the "Bess"; others

Saiba mais Sair


This places ever increasing demands on the ships escorting, towing or handling such enormous vessels. Voith Water Tractors (VWT) successfully rise to the challenge. Thanks to their excellent maneuvering, they safely bring these giants of the sea to their quays: promptly and with precision. And since time wasted in port is money lost, Voith Water Tractors also help to make each journey more cost-efficient.

Everything is on the increase. This also applies to shipping. Tankers and cargo vessels with ever bigger dimensions are being built. Ports cannot be expanded fast enough and nature often imposes limits as to the widening of canals.

Voith Water Tractors are in service in the ports of Hamburg, Rotterdam, Shanghai and many others. In addition, they have a successful track record in the Suez Canal where they have been used for over two decades.

Saiba mais Sair


For the Norwegian port of Hammerfest, Voith designed the VWT "Boris".
With a total power output of 10,000 hp and a steering force of 157 tons, the "Boris" is the most powerful escort vessel in Europe.
VWTs are used for escorting and towing all over the world in places like Alaska, in ports on the Adriatic Sea, in the Suez Canal and in Newfoundland.

Supertankers have enormous stopping distances. Large cargo vessels may require up to 20 times the length of the vessel to get to a stop from full speed ahead. For a tanker with a length of 1,000 feet, this translates into a stopping distance of approximately four miles. To safely guide these huge vessels into confined ports and through narrow canals, fast and highly maneuverable escort vessels are required. Voith Water Tractors are perfectly suited to this task.

Voith Water Tractors used for escorting duties are available in two versions:

Conventional design: Only minor modifications are required to turn a conventional VWT into a true escort specialist.

Skeg First Design: This innovative solution is characterized by modifications to the steering system. The vessel is equipped with a split control stand for longer escort distances.

Saiba mais Sair


A ship coming to the rescue:

"L.A. Fireboat 2" is one of the most impressive fireboats in the United States. With her ten monitors, she can shoot more than 14,500 gallons of water and fire fighting foam per minute. Under full load, the bow monitor alone attacks the fire with 283 gallons. Per second that is. And the ship's most powerful monitor has a reach of 600 feet.

These impressive numbers require high input power. The pumps consume up to 70 percent of the engine output to force the water through the monitors.
In other words: Only 30 percent is left for sailing, maneuvering and dynamic positioning of the vessel against wind and waves. This is where the Voith Water Tractor (VWT) is the perfect solution.
The design of the "L.A. Fireboat 2" is based on the VWT principle. Two 1,800 hp engines drive the two Voith Schneider Propellers. With their help, the vessel can be maneuvered safely, promptly and precisely during any firefighting work.

When asked to explain the advantages of this propulsion solution, Derek LeDuff, one of the captains of this US fireboat, responds: "While conventional boats move like clumsy teddy bears, my ship dances like a graceful ballerina thanks to the Voith Schneider Propellers."

Saiba mais Sair

Ice-Going Ships

Less need to worry if the ship uses Voith Schneider Propellers (VSP): It is not just their high maneuverability that makes VSP-equipped Voith Water Tractors stand out.
They are also at an advantage when it comes to handling ice. Initially this was a mere observation. The "Bugsier 16" for example managed to quickly come to the rescue of a ship which had run aground in Gothenburg, Sweden, and was trapped by ice.

Meanwhile, the positive effect of the VSP in ice has been researched and documented.

The renowned Finnish ice laboratory Aker Arctic concluded:

  1. The impact point of the ice floes at the propeller blade is usually in the upper part of the blade near the bearings. This results in a lower bending moment. The magnitude of the bending moment has a significant influence on the service life of the propeller blades.
  2. Collision with the ice floes occurs at the leading edge of the blades. In this load situation, the section modulus of the blade profile is at its highest, which reduces the risk of damage.
  3. The ice floes are immediately pushed to the side after the first impact with the propulsion system and do not get caught in the VSP
  4. Point 3 implies that it is advisable to use VSPs rotating outwards if two VSPs are to be installed close to each other. This is always the case on Voith Water Tractors. The general advantage of the Water Tractor concept lies in the low positioning of the propellers: Less ice reaches the propellers.

With VSPs, you will make better and safer headway in ice.

Voith Schneider Propeller in ice

Ice-covered shipping lanes, ice in port - winter generally is a great concern to many shipowners.

Saiba mais Sair


Voith Turbo Schneider Propulsion
GmbH & Co. KG
Alexanderstraße 18
89522 Heidenheim, Germany

Postfach 2011
89510 Heidenheim, Germany

Tel +49 7321 37-4099
Fax +49 7321 37-7580


More than a Tug. Voith Water Tractor VWT

More than a Tug. Voith Water Tractor VWT

Download PDF

Voith Schneider Propeller Designer Manual

Voith Schneider Propeller Designer Manual

Download PDF