Queensland’s last-remaining steam tugboat, ST Forceful, will once again take to the Brisbane River this Thursday 21 January.

The 95-year-old tug boat will be moved down river from its berth at Queensland Maritime Museum to The Yard slipway at Hemmant in order to undergo a survey of her hull.

“ST Forceful served the people of Brisbane for 45 years both on the river and as a rescue and recovery vessel off the Queensland coast,” QMM CEO Emma Di Muzio said.

“She is a treasure of this city, and this slipway visit and survey is a critical part of protecting her for the future.”

Shipping played a vital role in the development of Brisbane through the middle of the 20th century, with ST Forceful working constantly along the river and at the port. Her coal-fired boilers and triple-expansion engine are also rare surviving examples of the technology of the time. “Forceful has been at QMM since its inception in 1971, but stopped doing pleasure cruises in 2006 due to concerns about her sea-worthiness and age,” Ms Di Muzio said.

“Many volunteers and enthusiasts have worked to maintain her as an exhibition ship, and protected her during the 2011 floods.

“We are grateful to Maritime Safety Queensland, The Yard, Bhagwan Towing and Maritime Industry Services for helping us give her the care and attention due to a such a beautiful and respected craft.” Members of the public will be able to get great views of the ST Forceful departing from the Goodwill Bridge and surrounds near the Queensland Maritime Museum site at 7am. However the site itself will be closed to the general public. ST Forceful will then be visible travelling downriver between 7am and 9am.

Move Details for the Media

Bhagwan Towing will begin the move 7am on Thursday 21 January, with the pusher tug Allunga and utility vessel Eliza accompanying ST Forceful.

There will be good views from the Goodwill Bridge of ST Forceful being released from her QMM berth and turned around before heading downriver.

Anyone along the river will then be able to see her make the journey to The Yard at Hemmant, travelling at 6 knots. The trip will take approximately two hours, reaching the destination at 8am. Media are welcome to attend the Queensland Maritime Museum site on Tuesday morning to see St Forceful depart. Once she reaches the slipway, ST Forceful will be lifted up and placed on keel blocks with lateral supports. Media are welcome to attend the slipway to film this; however, they must complete an online induction via The Yard’s website:

A Brief History of ST Forceful

ST Forceful was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Ltd., in Glasgow, Scotland, and launched in November 1925.

She sailed to Australia under her own steam and began ship-berthing duties along the Brisbane River from March 1926.

One of her finest moments was in February 1929 when she assisted towing the stricken steamer Arafura through a cyclone some 300km to Brisbane.

Forceful was commissioned by the Australian Navy in 1942, and served as a harbour tug and rescue vessel based in Darwin. She received two battle honours:“ Darwin 1942-43” and “Pacific 1943”.

With Brisbane’s tugboat fleet gradually upgrading to more efficient diesel-engined vessels in the post-war period, Forceful’s work decreased and by 1964 she was the last coal-burning tug on the Brisbane River.

ST Forceful was retired from service in 1970 and gifted to the then-brand new Queensland Maritime Museum in 1971. She served as a pleasure cruise boat, including regular runs up and down the river during Expo 88.

In 2006 she began life as a museum ship only, moored at Queensland Maritime Museum.

Technical details:

Length: 121 feet
Beam: 27 feet, 1 inch
Draft: 13 feet, 5 inches
Displacement: 288 tons