The report of the ‘runaway barge’ in the July 2018 issue of Sea Breezes, reminded me of a similar incident which occurred off the Belgian coast in 1945.
The Dutch deep-sea rescue tug, on which I was serving as RN signalman and based in Ostend, received a signal one night which read; “The Egg crate has broken its moorings and is adrift and a danger in the shipping lanes of convoys bound for Antwerp – Find and Secure”. The Egg crate was a huge barge shaped iron construction which was used by the BYMS (Brooklyn Yard Mine Sweeper) to sweep and destroy pressure mines which the Germans were laying at night by E-Boats and midget submarine.
The sea conditions were extremely bad with a Force 4/5 wind and once we had located the Egg crate, the effort to get alongside and get a tow line aboard was going to be a very hazardous operation. Our Skipper, A Slijp, was a highly experienced tug captain and using all his skill and judgement, he managed to put a crew member on to the Egg crate who, with great courage, managed to fix a tow line and with amazing timing, was able to leap back on our tug where the Skipper, with incredible seamanship, managed, once again, to get alongside.
We then towed the Egg crate back and I was able to report that it was safely secured to its moorings. A good night’s work which demonstrated the skill of boat handling and bravery in appalling conditions.