BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MT KENT and MT FEARNOUGHT
At launching in 1948 the Kent was the most powerful single screw diesel powered harbour tug in the U.K. At that time she had an open wheelhouse, which was common for ship-towing tugs then. But four years later she was fitted with the wheelhouse which she still has now. Only the panelling on the front has been replaced, which shows the quality workmanship and materials used in 1948.
She started her working life on the River Medway, the first diesel tug on this river, handling ships in Rochester, Chatham and Sheerness. When the British Petroleum Refinery at the Isle of Grain was commissioned, the first tanker was helped to her birth by the Kent. She towed the Viking Ship on its tour of the South Coast before its placement at Pegwell Bay.
1n 1969 MT Kent arrived in Invergordon, in the Cromarty Firth; she was the first of many Knight tugs to work there, supporting dredging operations during construction of the smelter pier. She performed all aspects of towage but mostly barge work.
By 1988 MT Kent was back in Kent and laid up at Rochester, and later at Chatham, unmaintained, and used as advertising for J.P. Knight, until she was bought by the South Eastern Tug Society in 1995 for a nominal sum on the condition that she would be restored and maintained. She was moved to a new berth in No.1 Basin, Chatham Dockyard – where she remains.
Over the following four years the Kent saw teams of dedicated volunteers working, while 13 years of neglect, was cleared, cleaned, repaired, painted, refurbish, as the Kent was restored back to her former glory. During this time she was on a slipway in Ramsgate some of the time. In 1999 the Kent’s engines were started for the first time since 1988, and a few weeks later the Kent left her moorings for a test run in the basin. Since the first official trip from Strood to Sheerness, the Kent has attended events at St. Malo, Ostend, Maassluis, Rotterdam, Dover, Great Yarmouth, Whitstable, barge races and regatta’s on the River Thames, taken part in the London Thames Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012 and been a participant in the London Ships Opera in 2013.
The MT Kent’s awards include being on National Historic Ships Register, the Guinness Book of Records as being part of the largest Parade of Tugs at an International Towing Convention. The Ships Engine has also been recognised by the Institute Of Diesel and Gas Turbine Engine Engineers as probably being the last of its type still running.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FEARNOUGHT
The tug Fearnought was built and delivered to J.P.Knight in Rochester, Kent. In the 1980s she was chartered to Jubb Marine Services. 1999 saw her transferred to the South Eastern Tug Society for preservation, which is where she remains, in No.1 Basin at Chatham Marina, moored next to her big sister tug, the MT Kent.
Fearnought is a “tosher” tug. Tosher tugs had a shallow draught and low air draught enabling it to venture far up the creeks and canals of the Thames and also to pass under unopened swing or bascule bridges in the dock system. Bulwarks has a pronounced “tumble-home”, especially at the stern, to minimise damage from the swim headed lights.