Fred Fletcher

nev gray
12th December 2008, 20:31
Any Information On the late Fred Fletcher X United Towing

15th December 2008, 00:40
hey nev i can help you out with any info on fred as his daughter is my girlfriend...dont suppose you have any old pics of the tugs he was on do you cheers

james killen
30th May 2010, 00:26
I may have a photo or two of Fred when we were towing
the Cingalaise from Marseille to Noumea. If you send me an address
I'll look 'em up and post 'em off.


Jim Killen - ex 1sr Mate "Salvonia"

nev gray
30th May 2010, 19:38
Hi James
Thank you for your reply,I have sent you a private message with my home address on.

james killen
1st June 2010, 20:15
Dug up a couple of old photos of Fred. They'll be in the post tomorrow - there may even be more hidden somewhere - I'll also forward those if I ever fine 'em.


nev gray
1st June 2010, 22:03
Hi Jim
Thank you ever so much for your help,anything else you can think of re Fred would help me greatly,once again thank you.
Best Wishes

22nd June 2010, 22:23
Hi Jim
Thank you ever so much for your help,anything else you can think of re Fred would help me greatly,once again thank you.
Best Wishes
NevI sailed with fred fletcher september/october 1973, we towed a small rig from scotland to the river mersey,we came south about because of the dangers that are found in the northen route, fred was a nice man and liked to be with the lads, he did'nt like to be addressed as captain or skipper,i found that out at our first meeting after i said yes captain following an order he had given me, Just call me fred he said,and while i was on watch with him he asked 'will you make me a pot of tea and a couple of rounds of toast' before i left to do it he said can you wait for the toast to go cold before you butter it, i replied 'ok fred', when we reached the mersey and dropped the tow off he invited us ashore for two or three pints,he would'nt let us get a round in 'he paid for all the drinks', i was very sad when i found out he had passed away. win hawker 'cueball44'.

nev gray
23rd June 2010, 21:05
Hi Win
Thank you for your reply re Fred Fletcher,Myself and P Bass are gathering all the information we can regards Freds tug career and are hoping at the end of the day to produce a booklet semi documentation form to celebrate Freds career in tugs,this is all been done with the permission of Freds family,who we keep in touch with,and are delighted with what we are doing.Could you tell us which tug you were in with Fred in 1973,and any additional information would be of great help to us.
Best Wishes

23rd June 2010, 22:49
Just replied to your PM,
I sailed with Fred many times on various tugs. I was deckie and 2nd. mate with him when he was mate and mate with him when he was skipper. I could tell you many stories about Freddy boy! He was a fine seaman and a good bloke (although he could be a handful when he'd had a few) We wasn't averse to making the odd cockup either. Like one time trying to connect the tow, the weather was that bad the intention was for us to fire a rocket line. Fred and me were on deck mulling over this old Schermuly rocket gun, trying to suss out how to put the bleedin' thing together, we were so engrossed in that gun we wasn't really taking much notice of what was going on around us. When we up we were almost alongside the tow, we were that close we could have smply passed a heaving line across, in fact we could have just about passed the wire over by hand! The skipper was screaming from the bridge to get the tow line across. oops! too late, by the time we were ready the tug had drifted off, the skippers one and only chance gone. We had to use that rocket line after all. We felt right plonkers when we finally got connected and then went on the bridge to go on watch.

23rd June 2010, 23:39
Hi Win
Thank you for your reply re Fred Fletcher,Myself and P Bass are gathering all the information we can regards Freds tug career and are hoping at the end of the day to produce a booklet semi documentation form to celebrate Freds career in tugs,this is all been done with the permission of Freds family,who we keep in touch with,and are delighted with what we are doing.Could you tell us which tug you were in with Fred in 1973,and any additional information would be of great help to us.
Best Wishes
NevThe tug was the 'SEAMAN', superman&seaman were sold to venecia ship service,puerto cabello venezuela, re named 'vesca R5 & vesca R6, both are now lying derelict, win,'cueball44'.

nev gray
26th June 2010, 10:37
Hi Ray
I have read your pm thank you for that,will be in touch with you again.I was at Pete's last night,you could get in the Kremlin easier since we have been working on Fred's life on tugs,ha ha.
Best Wishes

nev gray
26th June 2010, 10:40
Hi Win
Thank you for your prompt reply,will note it was the Seaman.
Best Wishes

james killen
27th July 2010, 19:56
I have had a bit of a shufti - couldn't find the bunch of photos with Fred, Bob Skelton, Hatchy et al that I had in mind.
I now think that I probably dumped them when I left ocean tugging - 'came ashore in '84.
There was a comment about very little being written about Deep-sea tugging.
How about poetry?
When looking for the bunch of photos I came accross a wee bit of verse I concocted while on Overseas tugs.
If you are in to that sort of stuff lert me know & I'll fire off a copy.

nev gray
27th July 2010, 21:03
Hi Jim
Thank you for your help,I am sorry to hear that you dumped the photographs but it happens,I would love to read your poetry,is it about tuggies or just general verse.Send me a copy Jim.
Best Wishes

james killen
28th July 2010, 21:53
It's a bit long and parts do not really fit - like "Doss House" & "Chatty old tug boat" but the words had to fit the rhyme....

Here goes.


There is a chatty old tugboat
Just leaving the dock
Away from the harbour,
The quayside, the locks.

Rushing to sea
In a flurry of foam
Away from the Ale-house,
The doss-house, the home.

The seas are a'breaking,
The wind it is blowing,
The chatty old tug-boat
Like a pig it is rolling.

Slamming and diving
And bouncing around.
The sparky's just got it.
There's a tanker aground!

So, no slowing her down,
No dropping a rev.
Just open her up,
Keep pushing ahead.

For others have heard it
And will sail for the ship,
That's needing assistance,
And needing it quick.

The "Pacific" the "Schaldis"
The "Gelderland" too,
All faster than us,
To name but a few.

For there's others in tugs
With courage and pluck,
"First come - first served!"
It's a matter of luck.

Now, green seas we're shipping
O'er for'd and aft.
To do this for fun,
You'd have to be daft!

And now it's all hands
And the cook on the deck.
Watch out for that tow-wire,
Look out for your neck!

For we've come to the job,
We've come to the spot.
Where a dirty great tanker's
Stuck fast on a rock!

With rocket-line, messenger,
Wire pendant and chain,
And anchors and nylons,
For it is our aim.

To make fast to her aft-ships,
Make fast to her bitts.
So do the job proper,
Don't make any slips.

The tide's gone full-flood,
The wind it is rising.
There will be no second chance
So it isn't surprising.

To hear bosun yelling,
This job he is cursing.
The skipper, up there,
His tutg-boat is nursing.

Backing and filling,
And holding her steady.
He'll start pulling soon,
Whenever he's ready.

The gear flies out
With a rush from the deck.
"A hand to the winch-brake!"
He's got her in check!

Now start pulling easy.
It's foolish to hurry.
We'll get this job done.
No need for to worry.

Now open her up.
Give it all that she's got!
The engineer calls,
"That's all! Thats yer lot!"

With thousands of horses,
The wire starts to singing,
The tanker, her stern,
To seaward we're bringing.

She moves, catches, sticks.
Then moves once again.
I wonder how much,
For this job they'll be paying?

She comes off so slowly,
Away from the shore.
To seaward we tow,
For of work there is more.

We'll tow her to harbour,
Or into dry-dock,
Or a place of safe refuge.
Then that is our lot.

For we've done with this job,
We've done for the day.
And as for our owners.
How much will they pay?

For the job is all over,
We've just brought her in.
On a Lloyds Open Form,
Some money to win.


For parting with money
Gives our owners pain.
"Thanks, - here's a fiver!"
- "Go do it again!"

"You've doen a grand job"
Is all that they'll say.
No talk about money,
No mention of pay!

For the long sleepless nights,
And the work that was done,
For the risks that we took,
And the prize that we won.

"Don't mention that subject"
"You have a good job."
And all that they give us
Is a couple of bob!

That's all that they give you,
It's a bloody disgrace.
I feel right disgusted,
With the whole human race.

Now, we've tied up in harbour,
A rest to be taking.
I'll away to the ale-house,
My thirst to be slaking.

I go up to the bar,
And order my grog.
No friend in this house.
Better known is that dog.

Some punters, they ask me,
From whence do I hail.
From fishing? From whaling?
Shaw Savill? Royal Mail?

They see I'm a seaman
By the cut o' me gear,
And look me twice over,
While supping their beer.

I say I'm in tugs,
And bear it in mind.
Not harbour, nor docking,
But the sea-going kind.

I don't sail in big boats,
I don't like their style.
It's tugging I'm in.
I'll stay for awhile.

The smart one he jokes,
And starts off to chaff,
The others look sideways,
And try not to laugh.

I'm keeping my temper,
With all of my might.
When I hear the tug calling,
From out of the night.

On whistle and horn,
Loud blasts she's been blowing.
Some ship s in trouble!
I'd better be going.

I'll leave these big-boatmen,
Still having their fun.
I'd better get moving,
There's work to be done.

There's a chatty old tub-boat
Just leaving the docks,
Away from the harbour,
The quayside the locks.

Rushing to sea
In a flurry of foam.
Away from the ale-house,
The doss-house, the home.

28th July 2010, 23:48
Nice one James, Fred would be proud of you.
Regards Pete.

nev gray
29th July 2010, 21:17
Hi Jim
Well Jim I am well impressed and as Pete says Fred would like me be taken aback by your writings,very very good,Thank you.
Best Wishes

31st July 2010, 20:44
that poem was a great reminder of the old days and i am pleased that you even mentioned the sparky i sailed with fred fletcher and bob skelton pongo rood charlie noble quite a few times all great guys in fact there werent many bad guys on tugs at all or when there were they didnt stay long i do notice there seems to be plenty of big boat blokes about flashing their m.n badges around yo ho ho keith appleyard ex tugboat r.o. and proud of it.

28th August 2010, 22:04
Hi Keith hope you had good day last tuesday will be there on tuesday 7 September see you same place same time ( shakey)

capt cook
21st November 2010, 14:12
capt cook/p gibney
have photoes of fred on serviceman on trip to usa 1964 app

nev gray
21st November 2010, 16:15
Hi Pete
I would be very grateful for any photographs re Fred.I will send you a private message with my address.I have just been talking to Pete Bass,he asked me to give you his regards also we have formed the United Towage and Salvage Society,we have a re union every year,and quite a number of x United and anyone else meet nearly every week in a pub in Hull.Membership is free it is just a way of keeping United and the tug companies on the river their history alive,It seems people know very little about tugs and the part they played and still play. We will be having a Christmas get together on Wednasday the 8th of December in the WillowsClub ,Holderness rd,Hull.Everyone is welcome, their will be a small entrance fee,should be a good night.Once again thank you for the offer of the photographs,any expense incured i will gladly refund,thank you.
Best Wishes

capt cook
21st November 2010, 17:30
hi nev
found ships nostalgia by accident been online about 6 mnths
will post photos of fred great shipmate and fellow skipper later on
give my regards to pete bass pete

nev gray
21st November 2010, 21:40
Hi Pete
Thanks for your prompt reply,I will give Pete your regards we see each quite often and of course we have a mutual interest Tugs.We have done the exhibition in the Maritime Museum in Hull ,i dont know if you have seen it,it is now staying in there while the second week in January 2011,its been great for Pete and myself,it was always our aim to do that,and also i think it as not done the Maritime Museum any harm but a lot of good.We are hoping to start putting something together re Fred in the new year.Once again thank you.

Best Wishes


james killen
3rd April 2011, 13:36

I've just exhumed another photo or two.
I do not remember if I've sent you copies of these already and have lost your
e-address. If ye fire it off to me I'll attach copies with the return e-.
The photos are of:- Fred on the tow-deck, myself & Mick Harrison(ex United I think), a group of; Jock Bambrick, myself, Bob Skelton, Jerry Meijers(cook) and one other. On Neptunia about 1967/8, all trying to persuade Bob to consume a vile alcoholic concoction (neat Vodka & Tabasco if I remember correctly), and one of a second mate an ex-fisherman also from Hull who, I believe, went into United after OTS collapsed - can't remember his name though!



Graham Hall
8th June 2015, 11:26
I sailed with Fred when he was bosun with OTS what a guy he was a gentle giant of a guy There was not much you could teach Fred about towing I remember when we picked up a tow in Orange Texas I think it was a jack up to be towed to Warri Nigeria The river from Orange was twisty to get back out to sea lots of turns Fred coiled the towing wire on top of the salvage hatch and tied it at intervals with strong rope the tow wire payed out until it got to a tie but once we started going around a bend the extra weight on the rope made it part so more wire payed out then stopped again at next tie This happened quite a few times until we got to the open sea and the tow was fully paid out It was fantastic to watch I did not know Fred had passed on and very sorry to here it he was one of the best seafarers I had the pleasure of sailing with Graham

nev gray
17th June 2015, 10:07
Hi Graham
Fred died at Sunk Island a small village on the banks of the Humber about twelve miles East of Hull in 2002.He had not lived there that long when he passed away,a sad loss,I sailed with him in Masterman [United Towing] in the 1960s,quite a tugman the likes of never to be seen again.
Best Wishes