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Architecture & vessels

Suncrest (SUN XXIII)

Built in 1961

The former SUN XXIII was built for ship towage uses on the Thames. Today in the UK there are only two remaining sun tugs , these being Suncrest (the largest) and Kingston (ex SUN XXIV). The Suncrest (ex Sun XXIII) is the only remaining tug of that kind on the Thames.

Built in 1961 by Phillip & Sons at Dartmouth, she was built for the purpose of ship towage work on the River Thames. At the time, her 1080bhp Mirrlees Blackstone engine meant she was one of the most powerful tugs in service. Sun XXIII was built for W.H.J Alexander Ltd (Sun Tugs) and operated with them from 1961 until 1968.

SUN XXIII 1960s, Image courtesy of Liquid Highway

In 1969 W.H.J Alexander Ltd joined forces with Ship Towage Ltd and this gave a combined fleet of 36 ship towage tugs operating under the name at the time.

SUN XXIII 1971, Image courtesy of Liquid Highway

In 1975 she was sold to Alexandra Towing Company who continued to use her for ship towage work until selling Sun XXIII to Havalet International Ltd who renamed her SUNWIND for a brief period.

In 1985 she was sold to S&H Towage Ltd (Merv Street) and renamed SUNCREST.

SUN XXIII 1982, Image courtesy of Liquid Highway

In 1990 the tug was sold to General Marine (Peter Duggan) who operated the tug until 2005. In 2005, the tug was laid up and advertised for sale, she set idle until 2011 when she was due to be used by S.Walsh Ltd on hire. For the first time in years the tug was repainted, and the main engine fired up on her moorings. She was towed to Tilbury dock but later laid up again before being returned to General Marine at Silvertown.

Suncrest 1996, Image courtesy of Liquid Highway

Since 2012, the tug has been repainted and kept as tidy as possible to keep her from falling into disrepair by volunteers keen to see her preserved and saved for future generations whilst it was hoped a buyer could be found.

Suncrest 2012, Image courtesy of Liquid Highway

In 2019 the Suncrest was brought to the attention of Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Management and in February 2020 the tug was sold by Peter Duggan and towed to Trinity Buoy Wharf to be preserved for future generations to see and enjoy.

Suncrest arriving at Trinity Buoy Wharf on February 20th 2020

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