ST Cervia, Kent

Steam Tug Cervia was built in 1945-46 by Alexandra Hall & Company Ltd of Aberdeen, on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport. She is 105' (34.4m) in length with a beam of 27' (8.36m), weighs 233 gross tonnes and is powered by 1000hp triple expansion steam engine.

Originally named the Empire Raymond, ST Cervia first saw service on 14th April 1947 when she was called to the assistance of the Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth, which had gone aground on Brambles Bank in Southampton Water. Later that year she was purchased by William Watkins Ltd and re-named Cervia after a town in Italy where the family owned property. For the next two years Cervia operated from ports on either side of the English Channel, as well as the North Sea, until she was moved to a base at Gravesend in Kent. From here Cervia would operate around the Thames Estuary and as far north as the Wash. In 1950 William Watkins Ltd merged with two other operators to form Ship Towage (London) Ltd.

As a sea going tug Cervia's duties were often dangerous, but on the foggy night of 25th September 1954 she was to experience her darkest hour. Whilst towing the P & O liner Arcadia, stern first, from Tilbury Dock to the Tilbury Landing Stage, Cervia was accidentally sunk with the loss of all five members of the crew. The accident occurred when the Liner's engines were put ahead to avoid a possible collision with another vessel waiting to enter the dock. Cervia was dragged through the wash of the great liner as frantic attempts to release the towing hawser failed, inevitably causing the small tug to be swamped. Two days after the tragedy Cervia was re-floated and brought into Ramsgate to undergo repairs.

Further mergers eventually found Cervia in the employ of The London Tug Company whom she served until 1972. Sold to the Medway Maritime Museum, Cervia's retirement was to be brief, entering service for the International Towing Company one year later in 1973. Cervia was to continue her towing duties for a further decade until coming into the guardianship of the East Kent Maritime Museum in 1985. Today, having been fully restored, steam tug Cervia takes pride of place in the museum at her permanent berth in Ramsgate's Royal Harbour.


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