Topic: The Steam Tug “Taioma”

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(Ex “Empire Jane”). An article appearing in the 1998 "Souvenir Book" subtitled "Take a walk in living history". May contain minor OCR errors.

Looking strange? see an archived version here

The steam tug “Empire Jane” was requisitioned on 31 May 1944 by the Ministry of War Transport for coastal towing duties.

This is a triple expansion steam powered engine, steel hulled tug, 34.4m in length, 9m in breadth and weighing 385 tonnes with a gross tonnage of 232.26, built by Alexander Hall & Co in Aberdeen, Scotland, and registered on 29 June 1944.

From 29 June 1944 until August 1945 the tug was employed in war service duties in the English Channel during the follow up phase to the Normandy invasion, towing the Mulberry Harbour. For a short time she performed salvage and rescue duties in the US Omaha Beach area.

The “Empire Jane” was bought by the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand on 21 August 1947 and the name changed to the SS “Taioma”.

From 1947 to 1977 the Taioma worked on the Wellington Harbour. From 1975 to 1977 she was owned by BP New Zealand Ltd towing oil barges.

In 1968, while still on the USS Company listings, the tug returned briefly to rescue work, being one of the first vessels to arrive at the scene of the Wahine disaster in Wellington.

On 16 September 1971, while lashing up to the MS “Holmlea” in winds gusting up to 70 knots, the Holmlea yawed, causing extensive damage to the Taioma. The wheelhouse was completely demolished, the flying bridge on the starboard side was extensively buckled and torn. Electric lighting, wiring and fittings were ripped from the wheelhouse structure. All the VHF (Very High Fre-_ quency) equipment was saturated with water and the aerial twisted, the voice pipe sheared and the mast set back.

Repairs were done with a few modifications to suit the owners’ requirements for the future operations of the tug.

From 1977 until 1978 the Taioma lay idle.

On 30 June 1978 the Taioma was officially donated to the Tauranga Historic Village as a tribute to all the merchant seamen who lost their lives in WWII.

Arriving in Tauranga on 15 July 1978, after a 450 nautical mile tow by the “Herenui”, the tug was opened to the public at Coronation Pier until she was slipped on 5 March 1979.

Four large steal beams were Welded to the tug’s bottom plates to make a permanent cradle, after which it was side slipped onto a 13 axle, 104 wheel, trailer.

Before the trucks were able to move the trailer, the tug had to be made lighter and the funnel, wheelhouse, mast and some of the engine equipment was removed.

The tug began its move on 7 April 1979 and arrived at the Museum on 9 April 1979 after a journey of 5kms.

The tug was officially opened by Sir Keith Holyoakeon23 June 1979 and then dedicated by the Bishop of Aotearoa, the Rev Manu Bennett. 


This page was archvied at Perma cc March 2017

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The Steam Tug “Taioma”

Year:1977, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1968, and 1975