A tug or tug-boat is a marine vessel that manoeuvres other vessels with direct contact or by means of a tow-rope. The tug for its size is the most powerful vessel afloat. There are various types such as ocean-going, salvage, coastal, harbour, ice-breaking and nowadays multi-purpose anchor handling tug/supply vessels (AHTSs) of which many are seen at Montrose. A large number are fitted with water monitor deluge guns for fire-fighting purposes.
Highly manoeuvrable propulsion systems involving rudders, propellers or Kort nozzles etc. plus an increasing number of variations manufactured by Schottel, Aquamaster, Voith-Schneider etc. Others of a more conventional propulsion design and type are commonly in use for port-to-port towing. Fendering is usually high abrasion-resistant rubber, giving good resilience properties. Formerly, heavy duty rope was used for that purpose.
Included among the cargo and offshore-related vessels usually seen at the port of Montrose has been noted several coastal tugs belonging to German and Dutch owners. Usually such sea-going workhorses are operated by locally-based companies such as Targe Towing and neighbours Forth Estuary Towing (Forth Ports Ltd.). Normally the Kittiwake or Peterel are engaged to “chaperone” the increasing number of large cargo ships berthing at Montrose to load oilfield equipment for distant overseas locations or the shipping in and out of used oilfield tubulars. Forth-based tugs on occasions help out as did the Vietnam-built tug Inchcolm which came round Fife Ness to assist with the recent arrival and departure of the 17,000-ton deadweight freighter BBC Seine in October.
Having already mentioned some of the various types of propulsion systems currently available to today’s tug operators and designers, it was interesting to read in an old newspaper cutting from the 1950s when steam paddle tugs were in demand for work in confined dock systems with restricted space and at ship launches where greater manoeuvrability was required.
For example, it mentioned this particular type of vessel, the Elie, which was based at Methil for quite a number of years after World War Two. On one occasion she was booked for a job at Burntisland but had also been required to move a large collier in her home port.
Records show the “job” was to assist at the launch of the cargo ship Black Prince for Prince Line, that had been designed and was being built for the carriage of citrus fruit and general cargo between Eastern Mediterranean ports and the UK. Due to the relative confines of the dock system adjacent to the ship yard, the Elie was in great demand there as well as at Leith and Grangemouth, despite having been built as far back as 1912.
Big German tug operators Fairplay and Bugsier, whose tugs have berthed in Montrose recently decided back in 2017 to merge their towing interests and assets. One of the reasons being no doubt the increasing demands of the developing offshore renewables market. Bugsier have a strong share of the German market as their partners have in other European states. Their combined fleet totals over 100 tugs. Among those seen at Montrose have been Bugsier 2,3,10 and 30 and Fairplay 35. They were joined by the Terneuzen-registered Multratug 3.
Reported earlier this year and much closer to home, was the acquisition of local tug owners Targe Towing Ltd. of Mountboy by Forth Ports Ltd. although they will still operate under their respective managements.
Over the years, tugs of both companies have been seen around the South Esk with Targe’s tug Schelde 12 being a familiar sight when HMS Montrose berthed in the port of Montrose on her earlier visits.
To be continued.
Caption: Tug Kittiwake of Targe Towing berthed on the South Quay.