Former Army tug sinks under tow off Maine

A former Army tugboat that went on to a nearly 70-year civilian career met its end Thursday morning off the Maine coast, where it sank during a towing attempt, according to Coast Guard officials.

The unmanned 80’x23’x9.7’, 750-hp Capt Mackintire was under tow by the 40’ tugboat Helen Louise on Wednesday when the two vessels collided. The crew of the Helen Louise notified the Coast Guard.

A boat crew from the Portsmouth, N.H., station responded along with the Boston-based 87’ cutter Reef Shark. The Helen Louise and its uninjured crew were escorted into Portsmouth harbor, while the Reef Shark crew established a new tow with the Capt Mackintire and headed for Portland, Maine.

But the Capt Mackintire began taking on water early Thursday morning, and the Coast Guard crew had to cut the tow line. The tugboat sank about three miles south of Kennebunk, Maine, in 158’ of water, Coast Guard officials said.

An investigation continues into the incident, and the Coast Guard with federal, state and local agencies is monitoring the sinking site for any sheening or other signs of potential pollution.

Built for the Army in 1944 by the Pensacola Shipyard and Engine Co., Pensacola, Fla., the tug went on to civilian use in Florida before it was acquired in 1969 by the Coastline Towing Corp., Providence, R.I., and renamed the Castle Hill. In 1977 the tug was purchased by Winslow Marine Inc, Southport, Maine, and renamed the Marjorie J. Winslow.

In 2012 the tug was acquired by the Eastport Port Authority in Eastport, Maine, and renamed Capt Mackintire. The port authority sold the vessel in late 2014 for $20,000.

The Portland Press-Herald reported the tugboat was being transferred to Tim Whitney of the Boatworks yard in Annapolis, Md., and had departed from Bar Harbor, Maine. The Capt Mackintire was carrying additional diesel for the trip and the collision occurred as the Helen Louise crew was trying to transfer fuel, the newspaper reported.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

2 Comments

  1. Becky Brashears on

    Those Army tugs we’re workhorses that did the work of tugs twice their size. Following seas on your journey to join Neptune, mighty tug!

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