Dunkirk steam tug Challenge is to make a return trip to the Thames where she spent most of her working life.

The news follows her appearance at the Southampton Maritime Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend after an eight-year, £1 million restoration. Big crowds turned out to see her arrival in the port.

Challenge was the last working steam tug on the river and took part in Operation Dynamo to rescue allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940.

Following the succesful restoration the tug will visit Great Yarmouth Martime Festival and London's St Katherine Docks in September. Afterwards she is expected to return to Southampton.

The restoration has been undertaken at Shoreham, Sussex, and has involved fitting a new boiler and conversion to dual fuel propulsion to meet EU emission standards.On her voyage from Shoreham to Southampton Water she experienced heavy weather with a Force 7 gale reducing her speed to 1.5 knots against the tide.

Chief Engineer and Project Manager Clive Purser said:"It is very satisfying to have reached this milestone thanks to lottery heritage funding, voluntary contributions and lots of hard work plus the efforts of many volunteers."

Restoring the tug was made possible by the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust dedicated to saving vessels under threat. Another Dunkirk boat, Dorian, which had been on the Thames for many years is currently being restored by volunteers in Southampton Docks.

The trust's patron Prince Michael of Kent was aboard the Little Ship Tahilla accompanying Challenge as they made their up Southampton Water.

More info on ST Challenge website

Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust

Story dated May 7th 2013

ST Challenge at Southampton Maritime Festival

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