'Design, organise and start work immediately toward achieving in the shortest possible time, the delivery of, one Tug per week, using in the process little or no shipyard labour'
Admiralty Merchant Shipbuilding Department, 1943
The company chosen to construct the TIDS (Tug in Docks) was Dunston's at Thorne near Doncaster. Situated on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal they had access to the River Trent and thence onto the River Humber and the sea.
The design called for the tugs to be built in prefabricated sections away from the shipyard, and as dockyard labour could not be used for the building of the sections they were built in engineering factories several miles away.
To make construction easier and because the sections were to be built using companies with no ship building skills the design was to be of all flat sheets of steel with no curvature to the hull. Each tug was designed of 8 sections and each section size was restricted to maximums of 10 ft length, 17 ft width, 13 ft depth and a weight of 6 tons.
The sections were then transported by road to Dunstons where the were fitted together.
The method to join the sections together was in itself was a new innovation for ship building, the sections were welded together, not riveted. Although Dunston's had some experience in building all welded vessels in the way of barges, this would be the first time a ship had been built using these methods in the UK.
After construction due to limited space on the canal they were launched sideways into the water and towed, (by a returning completed TID undergoing trials ), up the canal to Hessel on the River Humber where they were fitted out before returning to Thorne to collect the next TID.
Each TID took about 5 days to complete, the record was 4 !
The first TID was launched on 26th February 1943.
The initial order was for just 12 tugs but the orders kept coming in, by June 1944 83 TIDs had been completed, and most of them were used in the Mulberry harbours at D day.
Originally designed as coal fuelled, demand necessitated that they be oil fired, so some were converted to oil while the design was amended to accommodate oil tanks.
A 220hp compound engine, seemed a little under powered for a tug but as you will read later they served their purpose.
above photographs - Steam Tug Brent Trust / Imperial War Museum / Medway Maritime Trust
For further information on TID tugs and a complete listing of all TID tugs, please see the Medway Maritime Trust website.
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