Statesman tug launched on Humber after treacherous trip from Turkey
A MULTI-million-pound tug has been launched in the Humber after a stormy voyage from Istanbul.
The £4m Statesman, a high-tech vessel built in Turkey in July, has been bought by Hessle firm SMS Towage.
It joins the company's fleet of ten vessels already in the estuary and will bring heavy tankers and cargo ships to dock in Immingham.
Captain Gareth Bonner braved a 6m swell and gale-force winds to bring the vessel over from Turkey.
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He said: "We had some big waves and bad seas.
"As a captain, it's up to you to balance the damage the vessel might take with keeping to schedule.
"You've got two choices – smash your way through it or run for shelter."
The Statesman and her crew were holed up off the coast of Algeria for 18 hours while storms howled around them.
But she made it to Hull in perfect condition in time for a naming ceremony at William Wright Dock yesterday.
Owner Paul Escreet said he was proud of the new boat, which benefits from an advanced motor system.
He said: "We felt we had an opportunity within our operation for a new tug.
"I was very impressed by this vessel and it's a very modern, well-designed ship.
"She will be put to work in Immingham berthing and unberthing larger vessels that come into dock."
The new tug is equipped with azimuthing thrusters, which can be turned through 360 degrees.
These allow excellent manoeuvrability in small spaces, which is useful for any boat designed to operate close to docks.
Mr Escreet said: "Manoeuvrability is the key.
"She will be working in tight spaces against heavy tides and strong currents.
"The propulsion units can spin through 360 degrees so you can put your thrust in any direction you need."
The Humber operates a system where any vessel weighing more than 50,000 tonnes must be brought into dock by tugs.
The Statesman will be able to work in tandem with other vessels to pull even larger ships.
She was launched with the time-honoured tradition of smashing a bottle of champagne against her hull.
The naming was done by Mary Jane Roach from Texas, the wife of Mr Escreet's long-time business associate Steve Roach.
She said: "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I wouldn't have missed this for anything."
This was the couple's third visit to Hull, a city they love.
Mr Roach said: "You can't get good fish and chips in America."
SMS was set up by Mr Escreet ten years ago and business is booming despite the economic downturn.
His tugs service a wide range of vessels coming into the port.
The company also works in the Bristol Channel.
Mr Escreet said: "We cover a very good cross-section of the clients who are using the river."