Save Steam Tug Forceful and Qld Maritime Museum

Queensland Maritime Museum needs YOUR help. 

We're launching a fundraising campaign to keep our doors open, and to help restore one of our most prized exhibits. 

This Go Fund Me campaign aims to raise $700,000 to be split 70/30 between repair work for the historic 96-year-old Steam Tug Forceful and ongoing operations at QMM.

QMM turns 50 in 2021, and ST Forceful was its first exhibit.

We believe both the Museum and tugboat should survive another 50 years. 


ST Forceful was slipped in January 2021 and a full engineering report on her condition.

Unfortunately the rust and ageing affecting her hull  was worse than hoped - with a significant amount of decay around her mid-section, underneath her timber "belt". 

She needs:

-- $190,000  to repair sheer strakes (steel plating) and ensure water-tightness

-- $100,000 for the water-proof painting of her hull.

-- $65,000 for Cathodic protection, shifting the vessel between sandblasting/painting bays, upper deck painting and lowering the vessel back into the water. 

That is a total of $350,000. 

The Queensland Maritime Museum is a volunteer-run, private museum with no ongoing state or federal funding. Our income comes from visitor fees, memberships, donations, venue hire and occasional corporate sponsorship. We also receive some small grants for specific maintenance or restoration projects, but those do not help general operations.

QMM was hit hard by Covid-19, with seven months of closure meaning no effective income. 

We simply do not have the money to repair ST Forceful alone. And we cannot repair ST Forceful and risk the Museum then closing.

We need to save both, which is why every donation to this campaign will be split 70/30 between repair work for ST Forceful, and QMM ongoing operations.

We will continue to work towards corporate sponsorships and partnerships, as well as funding from all levels of government. But we need YOUR help to get started.


The Steam Tug Forceful is one of the most historically significant vessels in Australia. She's the last remaining steam-powered vessel in Queensland, and one of the last in the country.

The tug also has scientific significance because its coal-fired boilers and triple-expansion engine are rare surviving examples of this technology.

Built in 1925 in Glasgow, Scotland by Alexander Stephen & Sons, she arrived in Brisbane in 1926 and began work as a tug in the Brisbane River, during a huge time of development in the city. She continued in this role for 45 years, becoming the last coal-fired tug in operation by the time of her retirement in 1970. 

ST Forceful also worked as an ocean-going recovery and salvage vessel. In February, 1929 she assisted towing the stricken steamer Arafura through a cyclone some 300km to Brisbane.

ST Forceful was called up for active service in WW2, serving chiefly around Fremantle and Darwin.

Upon retirement, she was one of the key founding objects of the Queensland Maritime Museum when it began in 1971. 

She became a pleasure cruiser, delighting thousands on day trips along the river, or out to Moreton Bay. She is especially well-remembered for her fun runs throughout Expo '88. 


In 2006 the decision was made to preserve ST Forceful as an exhibition ship only, tied up to the QMM wharf. 

However she can no longer return to that location due to a Maritime Safety Queensland direction. 

Unfortunately, ST Forceful presents a high risk if the Brisbane River experiences heavy flooding, such as the 2011 event.

If she were to ripped from her mooring, she could become a 400-tonne missile heading downriver, potentially striking bridge pylons. 

The Queensland Maritime Museum board is working on a possible new location for ST Forceful elsewhere along the Brisbane River. However, she will have to be able to get back into the water to go to a new home. 

We are looking to raise $700,000 through this crowd-funding campaign - 70% for works on ST Forceful, and 30% so that QMM can remain operational for the ongoing protection and promotion of Queensland's maritime history. 

Currently QMM is only open on weekends to limited visitors under Covid Safe practice, meaning a reduced capacity to earn ticket revenue. The extra support from this fundraiser will give QMM time to form new partnerships and develop new income streams for the future.

Once again, this is just the first step on what will be a long journey for ST Forceful and QMM.

We estimate a full refit and restoration of the vessel, including required costs such as regular surveys and slipping, would cost $5 million. 

We know it is a task, but ST Forceful had tougher challenges during her 45 years in service. 

We believe her unique heritage value should be preserved for education purposes.

Letting her be dismantled for scrap, or even sunk as a dive site, would be akin to destroying Cloudland or the Belleview Hotel all over again. She is as significant and loved as those landmarks - but just happens to be on water. 

Please help us get this 96-year-old landmark vessel to her 100th birthday and beyond.

Thank you for your support,

The Queensland Maritime Museum & Friends of Forceful.

PLEASE NOTE: Your donations are gratefully received through GoFundMe, which is allowing us to fundraise without charging to use their platform. You may be asked whether you would like to tip GoFundMe as part of your donation to help support the platform. This is optional and entirely at your discretion.


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Graeme Newton 
Highgate Hill QLD
Queensland Maritime Museum Association 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically tax deductible in Australia.
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