Gillen Tug

The Little Tug that Sank

The Edward E. Gillen is a 56 foot tug boat with a steel hull and 15 foot beam. On June 3, 1981 the Gillen Tug capsized and sank 2 1/2 miles east of Milwaukee while testing a towing winch. The cable-testing exercises was with the 286 foot Coast Guard icebreaker Westwind, which involved stretching a cable between the tug and the Coast Guard vessel. When the two vessels where attached the Westwind started to move, pulling the Gillen’s stern underwater ultimately capsizing the boat. No lives were lost.

Now the Gillen sits upright and the pilot house and engine room are pretty much intact. The vessel lies within a half mile of the wrecked Prins Willem V. The depth and length of the wreck make it perfect for intermediate divers who are new to Lake Michigan diving.

Boat crews should note that the Gillen Tug is located in a shipping lane. Passing ships often tear out mooring lines. When a mooring is not present, you may need to anchor, a procedure which can be difficult and dangerous when seas are rough.

Distance to deck: 65 feet
Maximum depth: 75 Feet
Dimensions: 56' x 15'3" x 7'9"
Moorings: Unreliable
Skill level: Intermediate