Certificate no 1937
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Tug
Location Chatham
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Richards Ironworks Co Ltd, Lowestoft
Built in 1948
Hull material
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 0
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
21.97 feet (6.70 m)
9.51 feet (2.90 m)
Length: Overall
81.31 feet (24.80 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


The M.T. KENT was built by Richards’s Ironworks at Lowestoft for J. P. Knight of Rochester. At the time of her launch in 1948 she was the most powerful single screw harbour tug in Great Britain with diesel propulsion.

She began her working life on the Medway with ship handling at Rochester, Chatham and Sheerness but in subsequent years she was to work elsewhere in the UK, carrying out coastal tows and a host of other duties. When the British Petroleum Refinery at the Isle of Grain was commissioned it was KENT who assisted the first tanker to her berth.

Among the stranger duties carried out by the tug was assistance to the replica Viking ship now preserved in Pegwell Bay. The vessel was first exhibited around the south coast ports but it was not the ‘Vikings’ that did the long distance rowing between the different locations as believed by the general public. KENT did the hard work and discretely anchored out of sight dropping them off and waiting to take them to the next port.

KENT was finally taken out of service in 1988 and moored on the Medway at Chatham in a semi-preserved condition. In 1995 she was acquired by the Southern Eastern Tug Society for the nominal sum of £1.00 on the understanding that she would be preserved and restored. In late October that year, KENT was slipped from her moorings adjacent to the Historic Dockyard and towed to her existing berth in No. 1 Basin, Chatham Dock.

On 20 June 1998 the main engine was started for the first time since 1987 and run ahead and astern whilst secured alongside the quay. On January 18 1999 KENT finally left her moorings under her own power for a test run about the No. 1 basin. She has subsequently appeared in numerous marine publications, local newspapers and on at least four television programmes. She is one of the country’s finest preserved vessels left in working condition and one of the best examples of an early post war tug of riveted construction. Her 5 cylinder, direct reversing, British Polar Diesel Type M-45-M main engine (rated at 880 bhp) is probably the oldest of its type still running.

Key dates

  • 1948

    Built by Richards Ironworks of  Lowestoft for J. P. Knight of Rochester

  • 1988

    Taken out of service

  • 1995

    Acquired by the South Eastern Tug Society

  • 1995-1998

    Subject to a restoration programme followed by visits to marine festivals in the UK and abroad

  • 2007

    Awarded a Sustainability Grant of £3,000 for hull maintenance by National Historic Ships

  • 2011

    Vessel selected for Avenue of Sail, Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012.


  • April 2007

    A Sustainability Grant of £3000 for hull maintenance was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk