In praise of tugs: the little ships that perform miracles

The tug Fortitude in Portsmouth harbour and below, Jack Hoar and the Hoegh Osaka PPP-150119-113302001

The tug Fortitude in Portsmouth harbour and below, Jack Hoar and the Hoegh Osaka PPP-150119-113302001

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It was the picture below in The News of the stricken cargo ship Hoegh Osaka which prompted Eileen Purnell to contact Remember When in praise of tugs and the crews who work in them.

The sight of one of these hard-working vessels ‘crouched’ beneath the hull of the listing car transporter in the Solent inspired 85-year-old Eileen to pay tribute to the tug service.

Two tug boats surround the car carrier Hoegh Osaka after she became stranded on Bramble Bank, in the Solent between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 5, 2015. See PA story SEA Carrier. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire PPP-150501-112200001

Two tug boats surround the car carrier Hoegh Osaka after she became stranded on Bramble Bank, in the Solent between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 5, 2015. See PA story SEA Carrier. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire PPP-150501-112200001

She has a special reason: her father, Jack Callaghan Hoar, was chief engineer for the Admiralty tugs in Portsmouth Harbour from the 1920s until the 1960s.

Eileen, of Pembroke Park, Old Portsmouth, says: ‘God bless the tugs, whether they be Admiralty, harbour, ocean-going or fire-fighting, and all who sail in them.

‘They rarely receive praise or even a mention. The big ships, who get all the publicity, could not manage without them.

‘To watch these strong and courageous little ships at work, tugging, pushing, persuading and nestling the huge ships which loom over them is a work of art in itself.’

Jack Callaghan Hoar, chief engineer, Admiralty tugs 1920s-1960s in Portsmouth Harbour PPP-150119-113252001

Jack Callaghan Hoar, chief engineer, Admiralty tugs 1920s-1960s in Portsmouth Harbour PPP-150119-113252001

Eileen says their names alone describe their personalities: Sprite, Stalwart, Dexterous, Bustler, Capable, Samson, Grappler, Volatile, Forceful and Fortitude, to name but a few.

She adds: ‘During the Second World War tugs towed the massive caissons over to Normandy to form the Mulberry Harbour and helped rescue our men from Dunkirk and other beaches.’

She concludes: ‘We should all remember the tug service which performs such difficult, dangerous and sterling work.’

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