Tugboat JakoB
A tradition kept alive
Wandering the streets of Aarhus, Denmark will inevitably lead one to the watery edge of the city, looking out through the swarms of seagulls and cutting wind to the Kattegat Sea. But a common sight milling about the harbor is a small primary-colored tugboat adorned with decorative nautical flags strung from bow to stern that flutter in the rain or sun, depending on the day. This is tugboat Jakob.
From top to bottom, Jens Bak, Ole Sorensen, and Bjorne S. Petersen pose for a portrait on the tugboat Jakob.
T.B. Jakob has been a staple of Aarhus for 72 years. Originally built in Orange, Texas, USA, in 1943, the tugboat was meant to help efforts in World War II under the name ST 252. After its very short stint serving in American harbors in Europe, the ST 252 went into storage until Aarhus Port Authority claimed it and it began work under the name it has today. Named Jakob after Aarhus' first mayor Jakob Jensen, the boat put in the work of hauling large cargo ships in the Aarhus Harbor until its retirement in 1989, shifting ownership twice before landing in the hands of Louise Gade.
Thanks to the efforts of Louise Gade and a large volunteer group of retired sailors, the tugboat has been kept alive educating tourists and schools on tours around the harbor through the organization Bevar Bugserbåden Jakob, which roughly translates into English as, 'Tugboat Jakob.' While educating the youth, the men enjoy the company of each other and the busy work they deal with in maintaining the tugboat.
"Most of us are alone," said volunteer Jens Bak. "…so it's nice to have someone to check on you."

Like other volunteers, Bak left the grueling grind of a commercial cargo ship but felt restless in retirement. Bak and the other are glad to have the community to rely on for friendship and support.

Read more on the history of T.B. Jakob in Danish and book tickets on their website.