One of the last coal fired twin-screw steam tugs in the world was saluted by the Royal Navy in London to mark its 90th birthday.
The ST Portwey steamed alongside HMS President, the Royal Navy’s permanent shore establishment in London, and was saluted by Commander Richard Pethybridge, who said:
“It was a real honour to salute this little steam tug which is one of hundreds of tugs and other vessels that were taken under command during WW2 and carried out sterling work.”
“The Royal Navy and its warships could not have worked as well as they did without the help and support of vessels like Portwey and their crews, which put themselves in harms way to carry out rescues, tow ships, and remove all sorts of debris from the channel.
"It seemed fitting that we should salute a 90 year old veteran which gave such sterling service and is still steaming thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers.”
The tug, which was built on the Clyde in 1927, was involved in preparations for the D-Day landings and carried out rescues of vessels and crews sunk by enemy action in the Channel.
Landing crafts were massing in the Dart and sometimes required Portwey’s help.
The tug also rescued damaged vessels from the disastrous American Slapton Sands exercise in April 1944, which was detected and attacked by German torpedo boats.
ST Portwey is currently being preserved and run by a charitable Trust. The tug is manned by a small group of volunteers who raise money to keep the veteran running so that future generations can see a steam tug in action.
After visiting HMS President the steam tug and its volunteers steamed down river to Gravesend where it will be on show for the rest of the weekend and open to the public as part of the town’s “Something for the Weekend” event.
The Chairman of the Trust Steven Page said:
“It was a great honour for the tug to be saluted by the Royal Navy on its 90th birthday and for them to recognise not only the role that the tug played during WW2 but the work that the volunteers do in raising funds to keep her running.”
“We want future generations to see Portwey in action and our next goal is to get her to her 100th birthday, but if this is to happen we need more volunteers and we need to generate thousands of pounds to keep her running."