Reply To: HMS Temeraire's Tugs

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Malcolm Lewis

    It must be doubtful that the tug London was secured alongside the empty hulk of the Temeraire. She was seriously underpowered with an early marine engine said to develop only 50nmp and probably liable to explode at any time. The other tug Samson had similar power. Towing such a heavy vessel must have relied on the strength of the stream to make headway. Serving onboard HMS Reggio, a large Canadian built tank landing ship (LST) in the 1950’s with its flat bottom and shallow draught, I recall some hair-raising entries into Grand Harbour, Malta in windy conditions. Fortunately, a large harbour paddle tug was usually at hand to secure itself alongside before we wandered off around the harbour struggling to make our birth.
    Talking to a retired harbour master friend about the Temeraire tow up the winding River Thames it is suggested that the London, acting as the stern tug, had a windlass forward for anchoring and berthing purposes and also bitts fitted on the foc’sle to which a towline could be secured.
    It is always interesting to watch large vessels negotiating the sharp turn around the western end of the Bramble Bank (The Brambles) in the Solent with the assistance of a stern tug before then proceeding up Southampton Water.