04 Jan 2012

In August of 2008, I published a lengthy post tittled  Gribbin Head. It was mostly about the Gribbin Head Daymark Tower that was built in 1832 on the Southwest coast of Cornwall, England. Almost lost in all that  information was a small story about the Tug Gribbin Head. Since I had not found many details about her in my searches, I could only write a brief history and asked if anyone else had more to add. Recently retired Fowey Harbour Master Mike Sutherland read the post and commented that there was history and pictures of the tug on the Fowey Harbour Commissioners website. He also mentioned he was re-writing her history and would let me know when finished.

I visited the Fowey website and found that the information was missing, so after contacting them, they sent me a PDF – it’s 2.08 MB in size and 22 pages in length with lots of pictures: Tug Gribbin Head PDF.

Because of the length of the Tug Gribbin Head PDF, I have only summarized her story here. If you want to know more, please download and view the complete history.

Tug Gribbin Head on buoys at Milford Haven

The Ingelby Cross, which the Commissioners bought from Tees Towing, Middlesbrough, England, arrived at Fowey Harbour on the 10th of June 1968 and after being re-named Gribbin Head, she started work immediately. This tug was 87 ft long, had a bollard pull of 10 tons and was 132 GRT. She could be dually operated from both flying bridge and the bridge.

Gribbin Head provided increasing towage service until June 1986, when the Commissioners agreed that a more powerful and newer tug was needed. By then the port was handling ships of 17000 tons DWT and 164 metres/538 feet in length and when the Astrea, the largest ship handled, had an accommodation fire while in the port, it was apparent that handling a dead ship of this size was not possible.

Tug Gribbin Head bringing in M.V. POLLUX, the 2nd largest ship to enter the port.

On the 17th of November 1987, the Gribbin Head suffered major engine failure caused when the holding bolt on the counter weight broke. This happened when she was towing barges for the dumping of dredged spoil. The weight smashed the crankcase and other terminal damage was caused to the engine, making it uneconomical to repair.

Given the age of the vessel, the commissioners decided to acquire another vessel that was capable of handling the largest ships. With the insurance and her sale they were able to finance a replacement.

Tug Gribbin Head waiting at the harbour mouth for a ship with Gribbin Head Daymark Tower in background.

Gribbin Head was sold to Haven Marine of Milford Haven and she left the port on 17th February 1988 under the tow of Dunheron, owned by Carmet Towing. Dunheron was a sister ship of Gribbin Head, being one of the three identical tugs built for Tees Towing in 1955. Gribbin Head was eventually re-engined in 1990, named Tuskar and headed first to Ireland and then Spain.

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