Concern over decision to axe emergency tug fund

ACTION The Tug Bustler working in Portsmouth Harbour

ACTION The Tug Bustler working in Portsmouth Harbour

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PLANS to get rid of emergency tugs that go to the aid of stricken ships in the Solent have been criticised.

The government will not renew contracts for four emergency towing vessels which are stationed around the coast.

The tugs sit on permanent standby in the waters to help ships when they get into trouble and have been called in to help with rescue missions in the Solent.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary transport select committee urged the government to think again about the plans.

But ministers say responsibility for funding emergency cover should lie with the commercial shipping sector.

Chairman of the transport committee Louise Ellman, said: ‘I am very disappointed that the government still intends not to renew the contract for emergency towing vessels.

‘These vessels protect our shores from pollution and we are not convinced that suitable commercial alternatives exist.’

In 2008, the emergency towing vessel Anglian Earl was called to rescue an oil tanker which had run aground in the Solent near Portsmouth along with Portsmouth Harbour’s tug Bustler.

Severe winds dragged the anchored tanker Astral towards the Isle of Wight.

She suffered major damage to her rudder and steering gear but no oil was spilled.

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