Things can go wrong with tows, and I have covered a few here. I am not pointing fingers - it is a fact of life, but there are factors that can be pointed to as possible causes.
One big tow that went wrong, but without permanent damage, took place in 1980. On September 17 the Quebec tug Capt. Ioannis S. (now Océan Delta, see previous post) set out from Quebec City towing two retired Great Lakes ships, Helen Evans and Thornhill. Destination was the scrap yards in Mamonal, Columbia. Things went well until just off Halifax when the controllable pitch mechanism on the Capt. Ioannis S. went into reverse and severed one of the tow lines.
The result was one ship in tow and another on the loose, and this was more than the Capt. Ioannis S. could handle by itself. Point Valiant (ex Foundation Valiant)(now André H.- see today's Shipfax) went out to assist on September 22. The crew was able to recover the severed tow line, which was hanging down in the water, and did not have to use the emergency pick up line. Fortunately conditions were calm - but foggy.
Capt Ioannis S. still had Thornhill on a string and was able to tow it in, arriving early on September 23, then stood by the as Point Valiant brought Helen Evans in later the same day.
Once in port Ectug mobilized its harbour fleet to bring the ships alongside. Point Viking, Point Vigour, and Point Valour all assisted.
The tug and tows remained in Halifax until October 16 when the fotilla set sail and reached Columbia safely October 30.
Remarkably all these tugs remain in service today. Point Vigour is now McKeil's Molly M 1, Point Viking works in Quebec for Construction Polaris and Point Valour is stationed in Thunder Bay, ON.
News Flash: The newly elected Liberal provincial government of Nova Scotia says it will go it alone to start removal of the wreck of Miner, which has littered a beach on Scatarie Island since its tow line parted two years ago. It will chase the Conservative federal government for compensation later - good luck with that.