"The steel tug Edward E. Gillen capsized off Milwaukee during cable-testing exercises with the 286 foot Coast Guard icebreaker Westwind, which involved stretching a cable between the tug and the Coast Guard vessel. The cable had been run from the Westwind to the Gillen's stern and apparently the Westwind began to move and pulled the Gillen's stern under water, causing her to capsize. In the investigation that followed, the Coast Guard maintained that their contract specified a bow attachment for the cable, while the tug's captain maintained that a stern attachment was necessary, otherwise the tug, which had only 60% power available while moving in reverse, would be overpowered if the Westwind began to move. Also, an engineer for the Gillen Co. testified that "the Westwind was moving when he thought it should be stationary." The four crew was picked up by the Westwind after seven minutes in the 48 degree water." from the Wisconsin Submerged Cultural Resource Survey.
The steel hull tug Edward E. Gillen, registration number 205312, was built in 1908 as the steam tug Erstus C. Knight. The vessel's gross tonnage was 47 tons and was 56.5 feet in length, with a 15.3-foot beam and a draft of 7.9 feet. The Knight owned by the American Sand and Gravel Company, Erie, Pa., originally had a steam high-pressure engine from the ex-propeller Mary, registration number 120927 built in 1893.
In 1917-1918, the Erstus C. Knight was renamed the steamer tug Aubrey and listed with a different steam engine and boiler. She was owned by the American Construction Company, Cleveland, Ohio,
In 1928 the Aubrey's steam engine and boiler were removed and replaced by an oil diesel, six-cylinder engine built in 1928 by the Winton Engine Company in Cleveland, Ohio. At that time she belonged to the American Construction Company, of Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1949, she was listed as owned by the Merritt-Chapman Scott Corporation
In 1953 the Aubrey was rebuilt.
In 1958 the Aubrey was sold to the Edward E. Gillen Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the vessel was renamed in 1964 the Edward E. Gillen after their other tug, also named the Edward E. Gillen, which was decomissioned , sold and abandoned in the Kiinnickinnic River in Milwaukee in the 1960's.
The tug was with the Gillen Company until June 3, 1981, when the Edward E. Gillen overturned and sank with no loss of life.
The tug Edward E. Gillen rests upright and intact in 74 feet of water approximately 2.5 miles off shore, east of the Hoan bridge, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The pilot house and engine room are pretty much intact. The vessel lies within a half mile of the wrecked Prins William V.
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