PUBLISHED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM
Tugboats and their crews are often the unseen, unnoticed heroes of the water.
Their fascinating history unfolds through the eras of man-powered caggers, and paddlewheelers, to steampower, diesel and multi-directional azimuthing propeller driven tugs.
Their history is written large through the stories of its characters, of cheeky 'kisses' on a Queen's hull, of convenient collusions but also rivalry so intense there was more than a touch of skulduggery afoot.
It is a history of make-do ingenuity when things didn't quite go according to plan, coupled with unparalleled seamanship and bravery in weathers that would wreck much larger ships.
It is also the story of river tugs stranded by receding waters miles inland in times of drought, as well as men (and sheep) pitched overboard on stormy shorelines.
Heroic, Forceful and Fearless are three well known tugs among many that helped ensure the reliability of commerce between Australia and the rest of the world. Perhaps no names have better reflected the character of the industry—both the people and the tugboats themselves—theirs is a national history that deserved to be written.