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Basic Information

A tender is a watercraft used to service and support other watercraft - for example, a ship's tender will be a boat which is used to ferry passengers, supplies and small items of cargo to and from its mothership without the need for the ship being docked. Such craft may also simply be referred to as "ships boats" or by the type of boat they belong to (cutter, barge, launch etc.). The ability to carry its own tender is considered by some authorities to be the key difference between a boat and a ship.

As well as general tenders, more specialised, typically port-based tenders can exist to supply visiting or passing ships - water and fuel tenders being amongst the most common. Mail tenders were popular in the days of surface mail, being able to collect and deliver mail from passing ships without them even touching at the port. In the modern era, tenders also exist for garbage and sewage, both of which are, for some reason, no longer permitted to be simply dumped over the side in harbours. A boat which acts more as a floating shop (or, occasionally brothel) may be referred to as a bumboat instead. The military also tend to have specialised tenders for loading ammunition. Many of these may have other names besides "tender" (for example garbage is hauled by a gash scow and ammunition delivered by the powder hoy, especially where the Royal Navy has a say and anything doing ship to shore work may be referred to as a lighter). Military tenders also include seagoing support vessels such as the destroyer tender and her sisters the flying boat and submarine tenders. As these may be ship sized vessels it is entirely possible to have a tender with its own tender.

Speaking of which, tenders also exist for things that are not ships - lighthouse tenders, for example which perform a very similar service for lighthouses, and similar things also exist for offshore forts, oil rigs and other sea-based installations. Also found are buoy, boom and cable tenders - all of which are mainly maintenance craft for maritime infrastructure, dive tenders which act as bases for diving operations and cannery or fishery tenders, which service and empty marine fish traps, carrying the catch back to a cannery or other processing plant. Other forms of tender probably exist.


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