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"Strange how ordinary people can suddenly turn into criminals, Zeb."
Zak gossiping with Zebedee about Ten Cents

Pirate is the second episode of TUGS.


Engineering parts need to be taken to Scuttlebutt Pete, the dredger, so he can start work early in the morning. Ten Cents is ordered to take on the job, as he is the first tug to return to the Star Dock. He delivers the loaded barge to a site where Zip and Zug are working with several cranes. The Z-Stacks are unable to tell Ten Cents to moor the barge by the old quay without giving him a hard time. As Ten Cents moors the barge, he notices that someone is nearby among the worn down buildings. He tries to call out to whoever it is, thinking it must be someone like Sunshine or Big Mac, but the mysterious tug does not answer. Sunshine then pulls up, and Ten Cents asks why he did not answer. Sunshine is confused at first but says he could not have heard Ten Cents. The two head back to the Star Dock.

That foggy night, the stranger steals Ten Cents' barge. Zip and Zug are surprised to discover it is missing the next morning, and they are sure that Ten Cents has stolen it. They head out to tell Captain Star, who tells them how he has already received a complaint from the client. He then speaks sternly to Ten Cents about the matter. Ten Cents tried to explain that he had delivered the parts, but Captain Star has to take the client's word and sends Ten Cents to do dredger detail as punishment.

As Ten Cents delivers a dredger barge to Scuttlebutt Pete, he tells him that he heard Ten Cents's barge is missing and that this is the talk of the harbour. Ten Cents is sadly certain that it would be once Scuttlebutt found out. Grampus, the midget submarine, pops up. He says how he has heard the whole story as well, which does not amuse Ten Cents in the slightest. Zak and Zebedee happen to come by and taunt Ten Cents. Sunshine, who has just arrived, informs Ten Cents that Captain Star has another job for him, which is more work with the Z-Stacks, much to Ten Cents's fury. Ten Cents must tow an oil barge. After more taunting from Zak and Zebedee, who also claim him a thief, he heads off, annoyed.

That night, Grampus cannot sleep due to the loud music coming from the Bridge Café Band, and decides to mosey round the harbour. He encounters the unknown tug who stole the barge the previous night, which Ten Cents was blamed for. Grampus barely avoids being rammed by the tug and resurfaces to see he is stealing another of Ten Cents' barges. Unfortunately, Grampus ends up losing the thief in the mist and starts worrying who it could be. The thief meanwhile steals the other tug's barges.

The next morning, a big meeting is held between the Star Fleet and the Z-Stacks at the Star Dock on how to try and catch the “pirate”. Captain Star and Captain Zero have come up with a plan, which will see all the tugs going out in pairs, to camp out in designated areas with barges rigged with flares that will go off if touched, and try and spot and nick the Pirate.

Meanwhile, Grampus is searching where he lost the Pirate the night before. He sees an old warehouse that hasn't been used in years and goes inside. The “pirate” tug is being ordered by two sinister, green-eyed tugs to steal another barge. He must do so to keep his uncle from being scuttled. Grampus sees and hears everything, luckily not being spotted.

That night, Captain Star and Captain Zero’s big plan is put into action. Top Hat and Warrior are paired together, as are Zip and Zug. Ten Cents and Sunshine are paired together also. Sunshine is comforting Ten Cents when Grampus suddenly emerges from the water and informs them of what he had seen. Their so called “Pirate” is a tugboat called Sea Rogue, who is being blackmailed to steal the barges or else his uncle sinks. Ten Cents and Sunshine are very surprised. With no time to explain to the others, they decide to find Sea Rogue before anyone else does, and Grampus submerges, telling Ten Cents and Sunshine to follow him. Zip and Zug see Ten Cents and Sunshine leaving their post, and Zug comes to the conclusion that Ten Cents is up to something, feeling vindicated in saying Ten Cents should not be trusted. Zug moves to follow on after them and orders Zip to stay close.

Meanwhile, the two green-eyed tugs starts to make plans for their escape. They cover up Lillie, cut out the lighthouse and muffled Philbert the bell buoy.

Ten Cents, Sunshine, and Grampus, having seen the villains re-enter, hide by the old warehouse, waiting for Sea Rogue. As soon as Sea Rogue rolls through, Ten Cents springs into action and pins Sea Rogue against a pier, but he then quickly explains how they are already aware of what is really going on. Sea Rogue hears Zip and Zug coming and guides the other three away to hide. Ten Cents, knowing Zip and Zug will go into the warehouse, comes up with a plan and tells Grampus to wait by the warehouse entrance to wait for the villains to leave in order to save Sea Rogue's uncle.

Zip and Zug approach and enter the old warehouse, where they find the stolen barges, which makes them very pleased with themselves. Their victory is short-lived as the green-eyed tugs' lights come on, scaring Zip and Zug with the presence of not just one but two pirates, and they are chased out. As the villains chase Zip and Zug towards where Ten Cents, Sunshine and Sea Rogue are, Grampus goes to save Sea Rogue's uncle, and Ten Cents waits for the right time to strike. As soon as Ten Cents gives the go ahead, he, Sunshine and Sea Rogue charge the bad guys, and put their green lights out once and for all. Warrior sees that something is going on. Not paying attention, he bumps into the flare barge, causing it to go off.

The next morning, a slightly singed Warrior and Top Hat tow the villains away, Grampus goes off for a nice rest, and Sea Rogue and his uncle thank everyone for their help before heading for their home up river. Ten Cents and Sunshine are sad to see the two tugs leave, and Ten Cents thanks Grampus for his help. Zip and Zug are nearby with more explosive fire barges. When Ten Cents and Sunshine teasingly joke about them helping out with the trap, they boast to the Star switchers that nothing scares them. Zug then clumsily backs towards a flare barge behind him; Zip tries to warn him, but it is too late. The flares go off, causing both Z-Stacks switchers to run away in fright, which Ten Cents and Sunshine find a great joke.


20 Minute Exclusive




  • This is one of four episodes that were released in the twenty minute format. The other three episodes are Sunshine, Regatta and Munitions.
  • This episode marks the first occurrence of several things:
    • The first and only appearances of Sea Rogue, his uncle, and the pirates.
    • The first appearances of Grampus and Scuttlebutt Pete.
    • Zebedee's first speaking role.
    • The first episode not to feature O.J.
    • The first episode where an explosion is used in the series.
    • The first time underwater footage is used (although it is too dark to see). The second time is in "Quarantine."
    • The first time a tug is seen out of the water. The second time is in "Trapped" and the third is in "Jinxed."
    • The first time the Star Fleet's logo is shown.
  • This episode also marks the only occurrence of several things:
    • The only episode where all the Z-Stacks speak.
    • The only episode where Captain Star and Captain Zero are seen together.
    • The only episode to be edited by Eunice Mountjoy and Chris Kelly.
  • This is the second and final episode where Captain Zero has a speaking role (excluding deleted scenes from Jinxed and High Winds).
  • There are some scenes included in the TV version of this episode that are not shown in the VHS version. The scenes are:
    • Sea Rogue entering the harbour.
    • Ten Cents charging towards Sea Rogue.
    • A close up of one of the stolen barges.
    • A close up of Sea Rogue's uncle inside the warehouse.
    • Two scenes of Ten Cents and Sunshine in the morning.
  • Other differences from the VHS version included the following:
    • After Grampus leaves his dock, the music plays whilst Captain Star is finishing narrating. The music isn't heard in the VHS version until Captain Star has finished speaking.
    • In the TV version, as Grampus dives to avoid Sea Rogue running into him, Captain Star has a line of narration that's not heard in the VHS version: "Grampus submerged fast to avoid being rammed and surfaced again in time to see it was the barge thief!"
    • Captain Star says in the VHS version "Grampus lost the barge snatcher in the mist, and spent the rest of the night worrying who it could be." and "Next morning, I told Captain Zero Stars and Z-Stacks had to get together on this.". In the TV version, Captain Star says "Grampus lost the thief in the mist. Next morning, I called an urgent meeting with Captain Zero.". Also, the scenes of Sea Rogue taking the other barges are not included in the TV version, neither is Captain Star's dialogue: "And all that time, the thief was busy, and other barges were disappearing."
    • Zorran saying "We're wasting time! Ten Cents' barges the only ones gone!" and Captain Star saying "Quiet! We've decided to set a trap!" is different between the two versions. Also, in the TV version, Captain Star adds "Captain Zero?"
    • When Grampus is inside the warehouse, he says: "Looks like a problem." This line is less audible in the VHS Version.
    • In the VHS version, after Grampus leaves the warehouse, Captain Star says "That night, the plan to catch the pirate was put into action." In the TV version, he says "That night, the plan to catch the thief was put into action. The triggered barges were put in places where he might steal them, and a flare would be set off."
    • Ten Cents says: "Well, let's get the Pirate!" He'll be sorry he crossed me, I'll tell ya!" in the VHS Version. In the TV Version, he says: "Let's get that Pirate! He'll be sorry he crossed me, I'll tell ya!"
    • In the VHS version, Grampus moves to save Sea Rogue's uncle before Ten Cents tells Sunshine and Sea Rogue to wait until he gives the go ahead. In the TV version, these scenes are placed the other way around.
    • In the TV version, when Ten Cents, Sunshine and Sea Rogue charge for the pirates, Captain Star says "The tugs and Sea Rogue came hard at the villains from all sides. They were surrounded."
    • In the VHS version, after Sea Rogue and his uncle head off, Hercules arrives and tells Ten Cents and Sunshine that they did a good job and that Captain Star is sorry for not believing Ten Cents about the missing barges. He also congratulates Ten Cents, Sunshine and Grampus. After Hercules has finished talking, Grampus says "Thanks, Hercules. Well, I'm off to get some rest." In the TV Version, Hercules does not appear, so Grampus says "Bye, Ten Cents, Sunshine. I'm off to get some rest."
    • Ten Cents and Sunshine swap lines at the end of the TV version when they say "They move pretty fast when they're not scared, eh." and "They certainly do!". This version also has an ending message from Captain Star, "It goes to show that you shouldn't be fooled by appearances. Just because Sea Rogue wore a black patch didn't mean he must be a pirate."
  • A lot of scenes were also cut from the TV version:
    • Zip and Zug taunting Ten Cents for always working and being uptight.
    • Ten Cents thinking he must be hearing things.
    • Sea Rogue backing up in his hideout at the old quay.
    • Ten Cents arguing with Zip and Zug after Zug says that they will get the blame for the barge not being there.
    • Scuttlebutt Pete grunting and saying he was only trying to help, as well as Ten Cents' subsequent outburst.
    • Grampus remarking on the creepiness of the harbour at night, seeing Sea Rogue moving, and deciding to check it out.
    • Captain Star telling Zorran to be silent.
    • Zip and Zug at the meeting, continuing their accusations of Ten Cents' involvement in the situation before Big Mac and Warrior force them to knock it off.
    • Captain Star saying "I said silence. Captain Zero and me have had a meeting. Missing barges is serious. We're going to get to the bottom of it, understand? Captain Zero?"
    • Captain Zero announcing that he has a scheme to catch the pirate, Top Hat and Big Mac insulting him for the irony of Captain Zero catching a crook, and Zorran taking offense to Top Hat and Big Mac's insults.
    • Grampus determining that the place he is searching is the same place from the night before.
    • Top Hat and Warrior being paired up in the nighttime stakeout for the pirate and having banter.
    • Sunshine saying "I'm sure Captain Star believes you. Don't pay any attention to the Z-Stacks, they're troublemakers rubbing you up the wrong way" and Ten Cents replying "I don't care about them, it's our gang! They can't be sure it's not me."
    • The shots of Sunshine saying "Well, we'll catch the thief tonight! With any luck!" and Ten Cents replying "Yeah, we might, we might not", which are replaced by shots of Zip and Zug at their hideout.
    • Zip and Zug being paired up in the nighttime stakeout for the pirate and having banter, replaced by Zip trying to get Zug's attention and Zug saying "Quiet! You'll give us away!", which is moved up from later in the VHS version.
    • The green-eyed tugs planning their escape, like covering up Lillie Lightship, putting out lights in lighthouses, and muffling Philbert the bell buoy so they wouldn't be seen or heard when they sailed off with their loot.
    • Sea Rogue, Ten Cents and Sunshine's dialogue as Sea Rogue approaches and is heard coming.
    • Part of Ten Cents and Sea Rogue's conversation before Sea Rogue hears Zip and Zug coming.
    • Ten Cents and Sunshine peering around the pier to hear Zug saying "Just a quick look" and Zip saying "No, Zug! Let's go back!", as well Ten Cents and Sunshine moving back from that position as Ten Cents says "Right, now get ready to spring the trap when I say" and Sunshine replies "Okay."
    • The shot of Warrior shaking his head after setting off the flare, as well as Ten Cents' joke: "Don't bump 'em too hard, Warrior! They might send up a flare too!"
    • Sea Rogue affirming Ten Cents' guess that he and his uncle are heading up river, Sea Rogue thanking Ten Cents, and Ten Cents saying it was the least he could do.
    • A close-up of Sunshine as he asks Zip and Zug if they weren't just a little bit scared.
  • In the Japanese version, the beginning is a bit altered, with scenes such as Captain Star telling Ten Cents to go to Scuttlebutt Pete and the music in those scenes is lower than the original version.
  • In the VHS version, Zug remarks "All work and no play makes Ten Cents a dull tug." This is a play on the words, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", a phrase used to describe a person who becomes bored and boring without time off from work.
  • This episode and "Sunshine" are the only two episodes to have received Japanese dubs (or any non-English dub) of their 20 minute cuts.
  • The Japanese title of this episode is "Defeat The Pirate ships!".
  • Going by production order, this is the third episode of the series.
  • This is Mike O'Donnell's favourite episode.


  • In three scenes, Ten Cents is missing his number and hooter.
  • When Zak and Zebedee pass Ten Cents smoke is coming out of the base of Zak's smokestack.
  • Ten Cents is smiling after Zak and Zebedee tease him for the first time and after Sunshine says, "Leave 'em Tents Cents, Captain Star's got another job for you."
  • The scenes panning through the harbour at night are supposedly taken from Grampus' point of view when he goes for a spin. In the TV version, the shot where Grampus passes the white sailboat cuts straight to where he encounters Sea Rogue heading straight towards him.
  • When Grampus surfaces after nearly being rammed, he has a small stub on his front where his two sides taper together, just as he does in the latter half of Regatta, in Munitions, in Quarantine, and in Ghosts. This is inconsistent with the rest of this episode, in which he lacks it. It is only present in this one shot.
  • When Zip and Zug are being chased out of the warehouse, Zug clips the warehouse door causing it to shake.
  • Sea Rogue's black paintwork changes to navy blue when Ten Cents and Sunshine find him. Its likely because this scene was reshot, similar to how Sunshine changed between his Salvage and Star liveries in the episode Sunshine.
  • When Sea Rogue says, "Even if I get one more they might still sink him," he is smiling.
  • When Ten Cents corners Sea Rogue, the two do not actually collide, yet Sea Rogue still shifts. This is because of the chassis the tugs are placed on. Likewise, The Pirates do not come in contact with Ten Cents, Sunshine and Sea Rogue later on.
  • When Warrior sees that something is happening, he is looking in the wrong direction.
  • When Warrior hits the barge, his hat jumps up a little.
  • When Top Hat and Warrior tow the pirates away, the pirates' green lights are missing.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Finnish Merirosvo - Pirate
Japanese かいぞく船をやっつけろ - Fearsome and Loathsome Pirate Ship