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"British Coastal Tug Boats" Topic

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Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2020 3:05 p.m. PST

Does anyone know exactly how British tug boats towed barges on the east coast during WWII? I have a 1/600 model tug boat that came with two (2) barges (look like coal barges). I'm assuming that they were towed one behind the other like on the Mississippi/Ohio, but wanted to verify that as maybe they were towed side by side.


Pontius22 May 2020 2:41 a.m. PST

I have seen photographs of both. Certainly in sheltered waters such as the River Thames and its estuary barges were towed in pairs, as this photo shows.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2020 9:52 a.m. PST

Thanks, excellent picture. I've seen myself that tugs would pull two barges behind them in such a manner with wide space between the barges (think a V formation), supposing that the barges are being "steered" by their own rudder, but not sure if the east coast convoys in WW2 did so do to the reading I've done that seems to indicate a fairly narrow convoy width each way south or north.

Would think that barges rubbing up along side each other would not work in a sea with the dynamics of the waves and wind. Lots of grinding and bending of steel.

ptdockyard25 May 2020 9:25 a.m. PST

Both sides used barges that were pulled by tugs. There were a number used by the Germans in the Western Mediterranean and Adriatic 1944-45 as well, sometimes pulled by the small craft escorting them.

Dave G
The PT Dockyard

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2020 7:28 p.m. PST

Dave, but what were the towing formations on the east coast? I'm painting up some of your models (great stuff) and the pack comes with one tug and barges.

Did the tug pull the barges, one behind the other (a suitable gap between the tug and the first barge, then another gap between the first barge and the second barge)? Usually a tow gap is 1/4 mile between vessels.

Or, did the tug pull both barges at the same distance behind it, one out to starboard and the other out to port (the barges steered with their rudders)?

Or, did the tug pull the barges behind with them side-by-side as they do on the Mississippi?

Or, were the barges pushed by the tug, cabled side-by-side?

Cannot find any pictures on line showing barges in the east coast convoys during the war, actually being moved by a tug.


ptdockyard27 May 2020 8:13 a.m. PST

I will see what my sources say on this. From pictures I have seen in other theaters (Gulf of Finland, Baltic) it appears tugs pulled barges behind them with the barges slightly offset. Distances look like roughly 200yd.

Pushing and side by side would be difficult in any sea.

Dave G

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2020 8:42 a.m. PST

Thanks, Dave, deeply appreciated.

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