Scottish Tug Capsizes in Greenock with Two Missing

tug sinks in Scotland
Major rescue operation after tug capsized in Greenock, Scotland (Iain Cameron/Twitter)

Published Feb 24, 2023 5:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Update: The search resumed on Saturday morning with the Marine Unit of Police Scotland participating. Police Scotland confirmed Saturday afternoon that the bodies of the two crewmembers had been recovered. The investigation is ongoing to determine what caused the tug to capsize.



The UK’s HM Coastguard reported that it called off a search this evening in Greenock harbor in Scotland after a tugboat assisting a small cruise ship was lost. Details of the incident are unclear at this time but it is believed that two crew working aboard the tug were lost.

The emergency call came at about 1530 with a report that a tug capsized in the East India Harbour area. It is believed the tug was escorting a small Scottish cruise ship the Hebridean Princess (2,100 GT) which is in Greenock preparing to start her first cruise of the 2023 season next week.





Eyewitnesses told the media that the tug rolled over and within minutes they said there was a flurry of activity. An RNLI lifeboat, several police boats, and other rescue crafts all arrived on the scene and a helicopter was overhead. The Scottish authorities were referring to it as a major rescue operation. Rescuers were seen standing on the overturned vessel and banging on the hull trying to locate the missing crew. 

The tug later sank in the harbor. Eyewitnesses said the rescuers had remained in the area but they did not see anyone recovered. HM Coastguard only reported that it had ended the search after four and a half hours. The search is scheduled to resume on Saturday morning.

Unconfirmed reports on Twitter are saying that the tug was the Biter, which operated regularly from the port.

An investigation is beginning into the circumstances that caused the tug to capsize.