PORTLAND Port's operations and services have been boosted with the introduction of a new multi-million pound tugboat - which has been officially named in honour of a former director who died earlier this year.

Portland Port director and decorated Royal Navy commander Rupert Best, who retired from duty in the early 1990s, was instrumental in persuading Langham Industries to buy the port from the MOD in 1996, and worked tirelessly to grow the operation.

Mr Best died aged 76 in February, and his friend and Portland Port chief executive, Bill Reeves, said the new tug will be named in memory of the late former military commander.

Mr Reeves said: "We hope that in naming it the ‘Rupert Best’ it will be a fitting memorial for someone who spent many years at sea with the Royal Navy, and played such a pivotal role at the port.

"The port is lucky to have owners that consistently invest in its infrastructure and assets - from berth extensions and dredging programmes to our newest tug.

"The tug is a great addition to the port’s services and operations."

The new asset joins the port’s fleet of tugs which include the Maiden Castle, Rufus Castle and Wyke Castle.

Built in Turkey in 2019 to a Robert Allen design, the Sanmar Sirapinar class ‘RAmparts 2200’ azimuth stern drive tug will increase and help support the port’s ability to welcome larger vessels.

Harbour master and captain Mike Shipley said: "We've been planning this purchase for a while - so it was a great day when she arrived in the port.

"The 'Rupert Best' will enhance the port’s towage capability."

Senior tug master, Andy Straw said: "We're absolutely delighted with her. She's very responsive and precise."

The 'Rupert Best' will be undergoing crew familiarisation of systems and safety equipment as well as crew training prior to engaging in her first ship assist tow.

Mr Best - who ran ran the renowned Melplash Cider Farm near Bridport - commanded the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Courageous during the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Earlier in his career he came under fire as a midshipman during the Raid on Limbang, Borneo in 1962, which saw him take part in the rescue of hostages from terrorists.


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