Govan-built steam tug marks 90 years with a naval salute

8 August 2017

(Item taken from The Evening Times website, 5 Aug 2017))

Portwey is one of the last twin screw, coal-fired steam tugs still sailing in the world and last week she received the naval seal of approval as she celebrated her 90th birthday, being saluted by Commander Richard Pethybridge as she steamed on the Thames.

The ST Portwey was built at Harland and Wolff in Govan in 1927 and was originally worked by the Portland and Weymouth Coaling Company.

She steamed along the south coast of England, being based at Portland, Dorset. During the Second World War the tug was controlled by the US Army and was based at Dartmouth. Part of her duties was to tow in damaged craft, on one occasion narrowly missing being hit by a bomb.

Evening Times:

She also carried out rescues of vessels and crews sunk by enemy action in the English Channel.

In 1951 she was sold to the Falmouth Dock and Engineering Company, where she spent the rest of her working life, helping, during this time, with the construction of the Lizard and Anglesey Lifeboat Stations.

The Portwey was destined for the scrap yard at the end of her working life in 1967 but was bought by Richard Dobson who, with a group of dedicated friends, restored the tug to her former glory and maintained her for the next 15 years. But they donated her to the Maritime Trust in 1982 and she has been in London ever since and is now permanently berthed at the South Quay of the South India Docks. In June 2000 the Steam Tug Portwey Trust was created and it purchased the tug from the Maritime Trust.

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