A line used in towing a vessel or vehicle.
Builder: Gibbs Corporation, Jacksonville, Florida
Length: 64' 11"
Beam: 19' 1"
Displacement: 74 tons
Commissioned: 27 March 1962
Decommissioned: 1 May 1995
Disposition: Transferred to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Machinery: 1 diesel engine; 400 BHP; single propeller
Performance & Endurance:
Max: 10.6 knots; 1,130 mile range
Cruising: 7.0 knots; 3,690 mile range
Electronics: SPN-11 detection radar
The steel-hulled harbor tug Towline was one of fifteen 65-foot harbor tugs that entered service in the 1960s. Each was built to replace the 64-foot wooden-hulled harbor tugs built during the 1940s. The 65-footers remained unnamed until the mid-1960s.
Towline was assigned to the First Coast Guard District and was based out of Bristol, Rhode Island. Her assigned duties included law enforcement, port security, search and rescue, light ice-breaking and fire-fighting. She was also called upon for outer harbor and anchorage patrols, customs boardings, transportation, recreational vessel boarding and motorboat inspection, waterside surveillance, quarantine boarding, tending short-range aids to navigation, providing support for local Coast Guard commands, and towing assistance.
She spent most of her winters assisting residents and fishermen by keeping the waterways free from ice. In January of 1968 she freed eight fishing vessels from the ice and assisted residents of Patience Island, Massachusetts with food and supplies. Later that month she broke up to 14-inches of ice to free four tankers and 28 fishing vessels. In late January, 1970, she broke ice to aid in the delivery of foot to Nantucket Island. In January, 1976, at the request of fishermen in Greenwich Cove, she broke ice to free their fishing vessels trapped by ice. The following January Towline assisted local officials in searching for a missing nine-year-old boy. She then cleared a passage through ice in Falmouth, Massachusetts for a workboat and salvage crane. In March, 1977, she broke ice for quahoggers in Greenwich Cove, an annual activity for the harbor tug that was popular among local residents.
On 16 February 1979, she freed the scalloper Viking Queen with its crew of 15 from the ice northwest of Quick's Hole and later broke through 15-inches of ice near the Northeast Petroleum pier in Tiverton to free a channel for shipping. During the previous 11 days, she broke through ice to reach Cuttyhunk Island, where she delivered mail and supplies for the year-round residents there. She cleared the ice through to Narragansett Bay with trips to Warren, Greenwich Cove, and Fox Island off North Kingston. She spent the winter of 1980-1981 breaking ice to keep the channels into and through the Narragansett Bay clear for shipping and also freed the fishing fleet at Chatham's Stage Harbor from the ice after the fleet had been trapped there for weeks.
She was decommissioned on 1 May 1995 and was transferred to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Cutter History File. USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.
Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.