Built by Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd of Govan, Glasgow, Scotland for the predecessors of Queensland Tug Company Pty Ltd, Forceful was launched in November, 1925. She departed Glasgow on 21 December, 1925 and arrived in Brisbane on 7 March, 1926.
In Brisbane, Forceful was employed mainly in the Brisbane River. In July, 1926, she went to the aid of Cooma, stranded on North Reef, off Heron Island. As the ship was being towed off the reef, the towline snapped and Cooma again grounded, where she remained until destroyed by fire some months later. In September, 1926, Forceful went to the aid of the Rio Claro, grounded on Scott's Reef, near Cairns. Forceful teamed with another tug to tow Rio Claro off. Forceful's finest hour was February, 1929 when she assisted towing the stricken steamer Arafura through a cyclone some 300km to Brisbane.
As a consequence of World War 2, Forceful was chartered by the British government for service in the Middle East. However, approval was withdrawn and she commissioned as HMAS Forceful on 16 February, 1942. She worked around Fremantle until October, 1942, when she sailed for Darwin. From October, 1942 to August, 1943, she engaged in harbour work around Darwin, towed lighters to Merauke in Dutch New Guinea and, on occasions, acted as a rescue vessel for aircraft and crews returning from bombing missions. In August, 1943, she towed a landing ship to Brisbane where, on 11 October, 1943, she paid off and returned to her owners.
The postwar years saw changes to the tug fleet in Brisbane, resulting in Forceful becoming the last coal-burning tug on the river in January, 1964. With the more efficient diesel engined tugs, Forceful's work gradually decreased, with frequent periods when she was idle. On 28 September, 1970 she was retired from service.
Her life as a museum ship started on 10 June, 1971 when she was handed over to the Queensland Maritime Museum Association. Since that time she has remained a working part of Brisbane's heritage, steamed and maintained by the dedicated members of the Association, purely on a voluntary basis. However, the cost of maintaining her sea-worthiness has become beyond the resources of the Museum and she will be maintained as a floating exhibit at her wharf.
Main circulating pump. After 80 years of hard work the original cast iron pump casing was corroded beyond repair. The pump is driven by a small steam engine and its purpose is to circulate sea water through the condenser. The condenser converts the steam exhausted by the engine back into hot water that is then returned to the boiler. The circulating pump is integral to the operation of the vesselís main machinery. This project to cast a new pump was proudly funded by the Queensland Government's Gambling Community Benefit Fund in 2008.