TASPORTS has paid tribute to the tugboat Campbell Cove, which sank, along with the tug York Cove, when the cement carrier Goliath crashed into the tugs on 28 January.

A statement from TasPorts pointed out that the Mersey River and the Port of Devonport have a rich maritime history.

“The recent incident at the Port of Devonport has seen two of TasPorts’ critical marine assets … damaged beyond repair and as work continues on the recovery of these two vessels, their legacy won’t be forgotten,” the statement said.

Campbell Cove was built in 1976 at the Carrington Slipway in Newcastle. It was one of 25 tugs built there. It started its career as a leading harbour tug assisting vessels in and out of Newcastle Harbour.

When it arrived at the Port of Devonport in the mid-1990s, it was considered unique compared wit its sister tugs. Campbell Cove was the only tug in the Devonport fleet with twin screw steerable nozzles as a form of propulsion, a new concept for Tasmania’s towage crew at the time.

TasPorts chief operating officer Stephen Casey acknowledged the important role Campbell Cove has played through its day-to-day operations, but also in Devonport’s history.

Campbell Cove was an important part of TasPorts fleet and played a critical role in ensuring safe shipping operations at the Ports of Devonport and Burnie over more than 30 years; however, people may better remember the important role Campbell Cove played in the 2016 floods that struck the Meander Valley and Mersey River,” Mr Casey said.

“In the midst of the floods, the Mersey Yacht Club’s pontoon broke free and careened downstream towards the Bass Strait. The Campbell Cove and its crew responded quickly and in a remarkable effort, rescued three people from the disintegrating pontoon in the dark of the sea off Devonport.”

The actions of Campbell Cove and its crew during this time resulted in TasPorts’ responding teams being awarded with a Certificate of Appreciation by Tasmania Police.

Campbell Cove is also recognised for her role in the recovery of Super Maxi yacht Skandia during the 2004 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Skandia capsized during the 2004 yacht race after losing control of its large canting keel. Campbell Cove, as one of the only ocean-going tugs in the region, was called in to assist the recovery efforts,” Mr Casey said.

Skandia was found approximately 90 miles north-east of Flinders Island after an extensive search. With the crew from the capsized vessel safely rescued and on board, Campbell Cove towed Skandia to Lady Barron, where it was righted and then shipped to the mainland for repairs,” Mr Casey said.

Campbell Cove was kept in first-class condition by her crew and is thought to have been one of the last pirate-class tugs still in harbour service in the world. Fondly remembered by all who sailed on her – I’d like to recognise the vessel’s service.”