Don’t Panic- Write A Report

The following report from a ship’s Master is reproduced here by kind permission of the anonymous author who appears to be gifted with remarkable ‘sang froid’

It is with regret and haste that I write this letter to you, regret that such a small misunderstanding could lead to the following circumstances, and haste in order that you will get this report before you form your own preconceived opinions from reports in the world press, for I am sure they will tend to over-dramatise the affair.

We had just picked up the pilot and the apprentice had returned from changing the ‘G’ flag for the ‘H’ and,it being his first trip, was having difficulty in rolling the ‘G’ flag up, I therefore proceeded to show him how. Coming to the last part, I told him to let go. The lad, although willing is not too bright, necessitating my having to repeat the order in a sharper tone.

At this moment the Chief Officer appeared from the chart room, having been plotting the vessel’s progress and, thinking that it was the anchors that were being referred to, repeated the ‘let go’  to the Third Officer on the forecastle. The port anchor, having been cleared away but not walked out, was promptly let go. The effect of letting the anchor drop from the ‘pipe’ while the vessel was proceeding at full harbour speed proved too much for the windlass brake, and the entire length of the port cable was ‘pulled out by the roots’  I fear that damage to the chain locker may be extensive . The braking effect of the port anchor naturally caused the vessel to sheer in that direction, right towards the swing bridge that spans a tributary to the river up which we were proceeding.

The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening the bridge for my vessel. Unfortunately, he did not think to stop  vehicular traffic , the result  being that the bridge partly opened and deposited a ‘Volkswagen’, two cyclists and a cattle truck on the foredeck. My ship’s company are at present rounding up the contents of the latter, which from the noise  I would say were pigs. In his efforts to stop the progress of the vessel, the Third Officer dropped the starboard anchor, too late to be of practical use for it fell on the swing bridge operators control cabin.

After the port anchor was let go and the vessel started to sheer. I gave a double ring Full Astern on the Engine Room Telegraph and personally rang the Engine Room to order maximum astern revolutions. I was informed that the sea temperature was 53+ and asked if there was a film tonight : my reply would not add constructively to this report.

Up to now I have confined my report to the activities at the forward  end of the vessel. Down aft they were having their own problems.

At the moment the port anchor was let go, the Second Officer was supervising the making fast of the after tug and was lowering the ship’s towing spring down onto the tug.

The sudden braking effect on the port anchor caused the tug to ‘run under’ the stern of my vessel, just at the moment when the propeller was answering my double ring ‘Full Astern’ . The prompt action of the Second Officer in securing the inboard end of the towing spring delayed the sinking of the tug by some minutes, thereby allowing the safe abandoning of the of that vessel.

It is strange, but at the very same moment of letting go the port anchor, there was a power cut ashore, the fact that we were passing over a ‘cable’ area at the time might suggest that we may have touched something on the river bed. It is perhaps lucky that the high-tension cables brought down by the foremast  were not live, possibly being replaced by the underwater cable, but owing to the shore black-out , it is impossible to say when the pylon fell.

It never fails to amaze me , the actions and behaviours of foreigners during moments of minor crisis. The pilot for instances at this moment is huddled in the corner of my day cabin, alternately crooning to himself and crying after having consumed a bottle of gin in a time that is worthy of inclusion in the Guiness Book of Records. The tug captain on the other hand, reacted violently and had to forcibly be restrained by the Steward, who has him handcuffed in the ship’s hospital, where he is telling me do impossible things with my ship and my crew.

I enclose the names and addresses of the drivers and insurance companies of the vehicles on my foredeck, which the Third Officer collected after his somewhat hurried evacuation of the forecastle . These particulars will enable you to claim for the damage that they did to the railings of No.1 hold.

I am closing this preliminary report , for I am finding it difficult to concentrate with the sound of police sirens  and their flashing lights.

It is sad to think that had the apprentice realised that there is no need to fly pilot flags after dark, none of this would have happened.

For weekly accountability Report I will assign the following :

Casualty Numbers TE 750101 to TE 750199

Yours Truly,

Master.

On A Lighter Note:

Sir Winston Churchill – (with help from TASC Member Dennis Stidolf)

WE SHALL FIGHT ON THE BEACHES,

By avoiding going there, especially with friends; When this war is over, We’ll find time to make amends.

WE SHALL FIGHT ON THE LANDING GROUNDS,

By slowing the invasion,

Social distancing and diligence,

Will help us save our Nation.

WE SHALL FIGHT IN THE FIELDS,

By exercising in open spaces and keeping on the go, AND IN THE STREETS, By keeping your distance, Don’t stand toe to toe.

WE SHALL FIGHT IN THE HILLS,

By not going there if you need a car,

Travel there by Shanks Pony, or,

Don’t go, just stay local if it’s too far.

WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER,

We shall never give in,

We shall fight Coronavirus,

And with common sense we’ll win

Sir Winston Churchill and Ordinary Dennis Stidolph

……………………………………………………………………………….

 

 

A Family Remembered..

At our January meeting of the shipping club, one of our senior members, Alan Johnson, whose latter part of his working career was spent as a senior lecturer at the famous South Shields Marine School and who currently in his retirement enjoys the subject of Local History.

Well, he handed me a couple of interesting documents to have a look at  A Passenger List and a Menu

dated February 12th 1930 for the luxury passenger liner RMS “Majestic”, part of the White Star Line. He told me that these are the property of a good friend of his, Ann Robson and the documents had belonged to her father who had come into possession of these documents when he sailed as a passenger from Southampton to New York on this ship in order to join, as far as known, a Furness Withy ship in some American port.

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RMS Majestic

Going back to the beginning of the story A Family Remembered and the two documents from the Majestic, I thought it may be interesting to take a closer look at this ship; since it was at the time the largest ship in the world and before being renamed Majestic, this fine vessel was built by the Germans at their Blohm & Voss shipyard and named Bismarck. So here it is…

RMS Majestic (II), at 56,551 tons, the largest ship the White Star Line ever owned, was originally called Bismarck and belonged to Germany’s, Hamburg American Line. Bismarck along with two sister ships, Imperator and Vaterland, were intended to rival White Star Line’s Olympic, Titanic and Britannic, and Cunard Lines Lusitania, Mauritania and Aquitania.

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Story of the s.s. Glenroy Ship’s Bell

S.S. Glenroy by Robert Lloyd
S.S. Glenroy: Ship portrait by U.K. marine artist Robert Lloyd

S S Glenroy, built 1899 Wm Grey West Hartlepool,

Owners: Livingston & Conner,

Master: 1908-1914 John Frederick Hunter.

In 2003 in my early retirement from a career as a naval architect in shipbuilding and offshore construction, armed with only three old photographs of S S Glenroy from the family album, I decided to build a 1/96 (note the imperial scale!) model of the ship which had been my grandfather’s home and his life for 6 years.

Two years after he left deep sea with Livingston & Conner to join Stevie Clarke in 1914 in coasting colliers taking coal from Tyne to Thames, he learnt that Glenroy had been wrecked on 10th Feb 1916 on the coast of what was then French Algeria at a place called Les Falaises, in ballast from Malta to Bougie to pick up a cargo of ore.

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A Tale of Two Cities

…actually one city twice!

By TASC Member Brian Smith

City of Durban July 1969
City of Durban July 1969

In May 1968 I was appointed Second Engineer of the Ellerman Lines ‘City of Durban’, one of the so called ‘Big Four’ and spent the two following happy years sailing between the UK, South Africa and Mozambique. It was a ten week round voyage followed by three weeks or so leave and I completed eight consecutive voyages before leaving her for the very best reason of all – promotion. It was normal procedure that if you kept your nose clean and did a good job, your next move would mean a light tap on the shoulder – a chief’s job. She had to have at least two chief’s tickets on board for the passenger certificate, each of the four vessels carried 107 passengers and they were very popular and always sailed with a full complement and full cargoes too.

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A Not so Happy Christmas

A Christmas tale for the engineering fraternity.

Port of Longyearbyen
Port of Longyearbyen

In the Autumn of 1988, I was sailing as chief engineer on a bulk carrier which was British owned, registered in Gibraltar and managed from an office in London. I had been attached to her on and off since February 1987 and had sailed previously on two others of the same class, so you could say that I knew my way around. She was one of a group originally built for Jebsens about 1972 of 22000 tons and propelled by 18PC2V Pielstick diesels. This particular vessel had been sold and chartered back to Jebsens and was carrying Jebsen cargoes at the time.

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Oops! I Boobed!

City of Liverpool
City of Liverpool

In the Summer of 1976 I was appointed Chief Engineer of the ‘City of Liverpool’, she was built circa 1970 at the Robb – Caledon yard at Dundee and was propelled by a Doxford 76J7 engine of 17500 bhp. Both the ‘Liverpool’ and her sister the ‘Hull’ had their faults, some major and some minor. Firstly the Bridge Control system on both vessels was totally unreliable and was never used during my tenure. I believe it was a GEC system but don’t quote me on that, after all it is some thirty six years since I last sailed on them and this is all from memory – the only thing I can verify are the dates from my ‘Discharge Book’ – oh they were the days lads !. The next item which caused a little frustration was the machinery monitoring system which was a Decca Isis, it just didn’t like the Persian Gulf in the Summer season, as soon as you stuck your nose through the straits of Hormuz spurious alarms would appear but fortunately it seemed to settle down when it became accustomed to the heat. From what I remember the fault lay in the transducer cabinets which were subjected to the heat of the engine room, they were fitted with small fans which just circulated hot air. However this wee story is about a very minor fault I came across on the ‘Liverpool’, which caused some annoyance and some laughter as it turned out.

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The Engine Room Ghost

<a href="http://tyneareasc online project management tools.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/City-of-Hull.jpg”>Picture of City of Hull
City of Hull

In the Spring of 1975 I was appointed Chief Engineer of the ‘City of Hull’, one of Ellerman Lines modern cargo liners. She was built in 1971 by Robb – Caledon at Dundee and was propelled by one of the loves of my life – a 17500bhp 76J7 Doxford engine. I was really looking forward to the experience as at just four years old she would be well run in and settled down. It was Ellermans first venture into the world of automation and mine too so very exciting days lay ahead. As a point of interest, there were three of the class built, two at Dundee with Doxford engines and one on the Clyde with a Sulzer engine. I sailed on all three and my favourite would have been the Clyde built vessel with a Doxford engine – just to be awkward. I had a bit of a gripe against an unknown fellow from the Dundee yard which could be the subject of another wee tale in the future.

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The Story of Portishead Radio Long Range Maritime Radio Communications: 1920 – 1995

An interesting article of maritime history

We are indebted to Bill Griffiths, editor the Newsletter of the Portishead Small Boat and Sea Angling Club for this story of Portishead Radio.

Portishead Radio
Portishead Radio

1995 saw the 75th anniversary of long range maritime radio communications in the United Kingdom, which started from humble beginnings in 1920.  Broadcasting to ships had been taking place since the early days of radio; the General Post Office (GPO) long wave stations at Poldhu and Caernarvon had been conducting two way traffic with ships within a few hundred miles of the United Kingdom prior to the First World War. However, no long-range system existed until 1919 when the GPO and the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company agreed to convert a redundant Imperial Wireless Chain receiving station at Devizes in Wiltshire.

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