Before there were any, a ship in distress had to fend for itself, or perhaps arrange a tow from a nearby merchant or naval ship. Tugboats are small ships with enormous engines…so building one that has a range in the thousands of miles is quite a challenge. When did these tugs become commonly available?
Here is a timeline history of tugboats. I don’t know when the first one entered the open ocean, I assume they gradually moved further out from shore as the commercial opportunities arose.
That was rather a short précis.
Still, in Edgar Wallace’s comedy, The Admirable Carfew, set before WWI, the eponymous hero ---- he’s a wheeler-dealer, as so many of Wallace’s heroes were — buys a tug ( situate maybe in Morocco, Wallace loooved that place ) from a scoundrel, finds it a dud, sails back and in Mid-Atlantic bad weather manages to salvage the boat the scoundrel is returning in.
Something like that.
Probably helps to include the link to the timeline.
Or , just point out that the first steam boat was in fact a tug boat, so its a rather simple story. Charlotte Dundas’s size .
The timeline doesn’t explain WHY its such a simple story.
The answer is that any ship can reasonably tow any other ship of the same size, and the two will proceed at a not bad rate, relative to the first ship going alone .
Its not even has bad as halving speed.
see why ? The force of resistance from the water increases exponentially with speed…
Take an example of a sailing ship on its own… It has one sail up and is doing 2 knots ? what would it need to do to go to 4 knots ? It would need to raise up three more similar effect sails… quadruple thrust.
So doubling the hull resistance because of towing is MERELY doubling the required thrust to do any speed, and given the engine or sail has some nominally fixed maximum thrust, then the speed is reduced down to 70% … not to extreme a slow down.
The first tug must be the first steam boat built for ONLY towing,
and as it happens, the Charlotte Dundas is the first steam boat TOO. (because, its purpose was for a limited run… but I argue it qualified as ocean going, since it was completely capable , but no one had a need… It could tow a barge laden with coal to extend its range.) The reason ships generally don’t tow is because of the great risk in doing so !. A change in wind and the two collide and both sink quickly…