To mark her 75th anniversary, the British tug ‘Kent’ will once again shine during Ostend at Anchor. Due to the vessel's weight, she will moor at the fishermen's quay and will be accessible daily free of charge.
The ‘Kent’ was built in 1948 by Richards Ironworks of Lowestoft for J. P. Knight, Rochester.
The ‘Kent’ began her life on the Medway berthing ships in the Port of Rochester and Sheerness. When the BP Refinery opened at the Isle of Grain it was the ‘Kent’ who assisted the first British Tanker onto the berth. Over the years she was deployed in various locations with spells in Scotland, coastal and near continental towing.
In the middle 1980s the ‘Kent’ was taken out of service after working almost forty years. The ‘Kent’ was secured on the moorings off Ship Pier, Rochester where she was illuminated with flood-lights and used for advertising the company of J. P. Knight. In 1991 the ‘Kent’ was towed from the moorings and secured on the buoys off Thunderbolt Pier, Chatham Dockyard where she remained until 1995. In all this time there was no maintenance on board.
In October 1995 the South Eastern Tug Society (SETS) purchased the ‘Kent’ from J. P. Knight for the sum of £1 on the understanding that she would be restored and preserved. A berth was found for her in No. 1 Basin, Chatham Dockyard, where the refurbishment was to take place. For the next 4 years there was a LOT of hard work for the volunteers who had 13 years of rust and corrosion to clean and paint, plus inspection, repairs and preparation of the main engine and auxiliary engines.
In January 1999 the fruits of labour paid off with the first run of the Kent’s main engine. A few weeks later she was under way in the basin for a trial run and a test for the steering gear. In May 1999 S.E.T.S. sailed the ‘Kent’ on her first official trip from Strood to Sheerness.Since May 1999 the ‘Kent’ has attended events at St. Malo, Ostend, Maassluis, Rotterdam, Dover, Great Yarmouth, Whitstable, barge races and regatta’s on the River Thames.
The crew is happy to be back in Ostend!