Baltimore is the oldest operating steam tugboat in the United States. Built by Skinner Shipbuilding of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1906, the tug spent its entire career in and around Baltimore, Maryland, moving barges and workboats, breaking ice and carrying city and harbor commissioners and other VIPs for harbor inspection tours.
Baltimore is an inspection tug, a variant form of harbor tugboat, designed to operate in several roles as a municipal tug, an auxiliary fireboat, an icebreaker during the winter months, and a VIP launch for harbor commissioners to view harbor improvement work sites. Inspection steamers were intended to transport harbor officials to work sites and other areas where decisions might be
affected by local conditions.
As a municipal tug Baltimore helped welcome new arrivals to the port and helped tow city barges and other vessels when required. One notable special visitor welcomed to Baltimore was the German blockade running cargo submarine Deutschland in July 1916 before the United States entered the war. This vessel was the first submarine to cross the Atlantic solo, eluding British and French patrols that might have caught a surface ship. Baltimore, and the city quarantine tug, Thomas F. Timmins, patrolled the area around the submarine to assure that American neutrality would not be broken. After Deutschland exchanged cargoes, the two city tugs escorted the sub out of Baltimore waters for the return trip to Germany.
Baltimore has been berthed at a pier behind the Museum of Industry since her return from oblivion. After eight years of work, a dedicated group of highly skilled volunteers and helpful companies have restored the tug back to operating condition and continue to improve her condition and appearance. The Maryland Historical Trust financed hull repair expenses and holds a preservation lien upon the tug. Baltimore is licensed to carry guests and she steams about Chesapeake Bay three or four times a year.
Also see www.steamtug.org and scard.buffnet.net/tugbaltimore/.