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Invernahaille
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669 Posts
Posted -  26/06/2006  :  04:02







Edited by - Invernahaille on 10 April 2007 04:41:19
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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 21/06/2007 : 15:16

So a week later I was on a flight to Karachi. My ship wasnt due to arrive in Karachi for another three days (it was 11 days sailing time from Durban to Karachi), so I was booked into the Merchant Navy hotel. Nice palce large swimming pool all the trimmings. I remember that everything I bought was paid on a tab. At the bottom of the tab was written "do not tip the waiters". Everytime I was given a tab the waiters told me to ignore the writing at the bottom of the tab. Nearly every other word was Bukshee Sahib.

So it was that the City of Worcester came into port a couple of days later. On boarding the ship I felt a strange feeling of being cold shouldered by everyone. Within half an hour I was dragged infront of the chief engineer and given the most abusive scolding I have ever had in my life. The chief and second engineer then informed me that if I thought their reprimand was harsh, it was nothing in comparison from what I was going to get from the captain later that afternoon.

Around three o'clock in the afternnon I was told to report to the captains cabin. I knocked on the door and was told to enter. Inside were the captain, chief engineer, and first mate (also known as a first officer).

Basically I was informed that it was my duty to be on board ship when leaving any port. The captain berated me so severely that he said that I was a hairs breadth of being given a D.R. (Decline Report). When you are discharged from a ship your discharge book is stamped with the name of the vessel and conduct and ability certification. If you received a D.R. on your first trip, it usually meant it was also your last trip.

The captain told me that if I was brought to his attention again for the rest of the voyage that it would be my last.

 




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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 22/06/2007 : 15:07

So, I returned to my duties, the atmosphere was a bit cold for a couple of days, the ice began to melt, and things felt that they where returning to normal. During this period I kep a low profile staying in my cabin when not on duty.

On the third night my opposite junior engineer, a guy called Peter O'Sullivan, who came from Workington, asked me if I wanted to go shoreside. Peter was an Ellerman engineering cadet who was in his final year, and although I was his senior in rank on this trip on our return he would receive his seconds certification, and it would take me a couple of years to get my part A.

So we went ashore in the bright lights of downtown Karachi. We called ath the Merchant Navy Officers club, and had a couple of Tiger beers (a type of watered down pale ale).

We ordered a taxi to take us back to the docks, and the preverbial three wheeler Lambretta arrived. When we got in/on the driver was trying to push all sorts of crap on us. Hasish sahib.

Peter asked "as a matter of interest how much is the hash. That was a green light dignal to the driver the next minute we hurtling down some backstreets at a rapid rate of knots. The driver disappeared and came back a few minutes with what appeared to be an oxo cube.

I warned Peter that if he was caught with it he would serve some severe prison time. He said he only wanted to know how much it was.

So we got back to the Dock gates, I gave the driver 10 rupees which was well over the taxi fare, and told Pete to give him the hash back, which Peter did. The next minute all hell broke loose as the taxi driver broke out into a raging fit. The dock police arrived and the taxi driver told them that Pete had tried to sell him hash.

Pete was arrested, and I ran like hell back to the ship. I reported what had happened to the second engineer. He then asked me if either of us used the drug. All that I could say was that I hadnever used and neither had I seen Peter use it, which was true. So I returned to the dock police station with Dave the second engineer. It was like a scene from the last days of rge Raj. The second was ordering the police to release Pete, as myself were "serving British Officers and Gentlemen". I wasnt really sure he was reffering to me as I was a bit rough at the eges in those days.

Bottom line was they released Pete and we returned to the ship. The second told us we would be on report the next day to answer questions.

I was pretty sure that I was going to get my DR on this occasion, However, I did get a severe telling off from the Captain, for allowing myself to get in that kind of situation, he said he would not give me a D.R. on the grounds that the Chief and Second engineer had given me good reports since my return to the ship. Phew talking about a close shave.

As I said earlier I sailed with Captain Robert Clarke another twice after that.




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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 26/06/2007 : 02:00

The rest of the stay in Karachi was pretty uneventful (thank God). The engineers carried out their normal maintenence duties. The ship unloaded into barges that were manned by Bargees. Their life was totally waterborn they used the dock water for everything washing, toilet pretty disgusting to see sometimes. There were birds which were nicknamed as kitehawks, they would swoop down from great heights and remove anything in your hand that was edible. I used to occasionally take my smoko on deck, a cup of tea and a couple of slices of toast, I lost my toast on a couple of occasions.

Discharging cargo was a slow and laborious process. If my memory serves me correctly we were there for almost three weeks. I was'nt sorry to leave Karachi. However, it was not to be my last visit, as Ellernan's normal liner service was Karachi, Bombay, Calcutta, Dacca, Chalna, etc etc. 

So one morning we slipped moorings and gently sailed off to the next port of call, Calcutta. By this time I was also carrying out duty engineers rosta. That meant that you had to remain on board one out of four nights, in case of any engine room emergency. which wasnt a real burden anyway. It would take us five days steaming time to reach calctta, one of tose days was taken up navigating the Hooglie River, it was like sailing through a wide jungle river. Every now and again you would see a corpse or a bloated cow floating downstream. Such was the poverty of the country.



Edited by - Invernahaille on 26 June 2007 02:31:26


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 26/06/2007 : 07:05
Fascinating stuff Robert, keep it up please.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 26/06/2007 : 19:11
Wednesdays at sea was Captains inspection day. He would tour the shp accompanied by the firsr mate and Chief Engineer. They would write down any damage reports etc. After the inspection it was fire and emergency drill. My post was starting the fire pump in the steering gear compartment. Basically my job was to start the aft fire water pump. There wasnt the luxury of electronic starters. It was a two cylinder Petter diesel engine. One of the routine watchkeeping duties was to ensure that the fuel tanks were filled on the auxiliary pumps to ensure that the engines would be ready to start in an emergency. Then up to the lifeboat deck for lifeboat drill. All very important features to a mariners life at sea. Then I would proceed down the tunnel (this is were the propshaft runs under the aft holds, the shaft was covered by a tunnel. The bridge would operate the watertight doors to ensure their operation. Dave Morell the second engineer started pumping water in the tunnel when I was in there once. The panic didnt start until the water got to my chest. I assumed they were playing a joke so I didnt bother too much, but when the water got that high, I thought it was time to vacate the tunnel and started to undo the escape hatch that led to the steering gear compartment. I need not have worried too much, because as I opened the escape hatch, the water started to recede. Then the watertight door opened and there in front of me stood Davey Hunt and the second engineer laughing like hell. They said they were pleased to know I applied some sense in escaping through the aft hatch. Just testing my capabilties they said.


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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 27/06/2007 : 16:56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merchant Navy Officers cap badge. The Engineers rank insignia (below) have a purple edging to them, though this is not visible in the photos. It is an easy way to distinguish the Engineers from the Deck Officers (stargazers). The purple was awarded by Princess Alexandra to the Engineers because of their unstinting courage on the R.M.S. Titanic, in which all the Engineers perished by maintaining vital systems  whilst passengers were put onto the lifeboats etc. Also the Bandleader Wallace Hartley, came from Colne.

"Greater love hath no man, that he lay down is own life to save another"

 

4th Engineers/3rd Mates Braid

 

3rd Engineers/2nd Mates Braid/

 

2nd Engineers/ Ist Officer/Mates Braid

 

Chief Engineers/ Ships Master (Captain's) Braid



Edited by - Invernahaille on 27 June 2007 21:39:57

Edited by - Invernahaille on 27 June 2007 21:58:24

Edited by - Invernahaille on 28 June 2007 01:16:28


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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 28/06/2007 : 21:48

Calcutta at the start of the monsoon season is not a place to be. Incessant showers and a humid heat that drives some people nuts, including the chief engineer. He and the capatin had been invited to some civic bash. On his return he was well oiled and I was having a tiffin with the other engineers in the second engineers cabin. The City of Worcester didnt have a bar in the ward room, but the officers built one on the way back home. The bar was called the "sauce boat", pretty original dont you think? So we used to do our drinking in someones cabin. Back to the Chief, he entered the seconds cabin brandishing a pair of Kukries that he had been presented with at the party earlier in the evening, and promptly proceeded to inform me that he was going to cut my ears off. The Captain told him he should retire to bed. A couple of days later the Chief was hospitalised in Calcutta for a couple of days because the Captain thought he had gone deolali (pronounced Doolally). He returned a couple of days later looking like a brand new man.

Such is the life of a junior engineer. However there is much more to follow.



Edited by - Invernahaille on 29 June 2007 16:35:45


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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 29/06/2007 : 16:59

By the time we reached Calcutta is was early August. We returned to normal maintenence routine. Crankshaft calibrations, inserts, boiler tube cleaning, etc etc. Sea life was starting to get a pattern to it. Nightime when not doing duty engineer rosta, was spent in one of Calcutta's seedier establishments. We usually got a motorised taxi, or if we were in a more relaxed mood would take a rickshaw ride into downtown Calcutta which was about three miles from Kiddipur docks.

One of the things that reminded me of the last days of the Raj, was seeing the old colonial plantation managers dressed in their typical whit suits and modelling the latest fashion in Topi's. They had a bearing about them that said "I am the boss and the buck stops here". The strange thing was that we temporary visitors were inundated by calls of buckshee sahib, buckshee, (Begging, means for nothing) from every angle. When these guys walked about ,the locals didn't go anywhere near them. These managers just carried an air of superiority about them.

There were no great stories to tell about my first visit to Calcutta. In fact it was carried out without any major incidents (for a change). I just learned about the way of life of the indiginous people, mainly very poor people who had travelled from the interior in the hope of finding a better life, only to find that making a living in the big city was more cut-throat than the places they had come from. It is hard to enviasage people living in ramshackle makeshift dwellings set up anywhere it was possible to do so. I remember a woman throwing a baby into my arms asking me to take it back to the UK, so it could have a better lifestyle. I just handed it over to another woman who was standing by. Also, they would deform their children so that they could beg for them as they grew older. Strange thing was that they aired a view that India was one of the world major civilised powers. A billion people, with only 10% of the popualtion that lived above the poverty line.



Edited by - Invernahaille on 29 June 2007 17:06:33


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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 01/07/2007 : 15:20

We stayed in Calcutta for just under three weeks, we left the day after independence day (the Indian independence day) All British ships were allocated a couple of Ghurka soldiers to protect the crew, from any Indian insurgents who wanted revenge for British colonialism on the day itself. Then we sailed back down the river heading for Chalna. Chalna is in Bangladesh, but it was still East Pakistan in those days. The following year (1971) they had a civil war, which was basically an extension of the aftermath of Indian independence in 1947.and changed the name to Bangladesh. I will go into more dtail about this episode in my memoirs of my third trip at sea.

The steaming time to Chalna was about a day and a half. Chalna was just a small town on the Pusuur River, the ships were anchored to buoys in the river, there wasnt any shore leave so the next two weeks were spent moored in the river loading jute. The locals would come up to the side of the ship begging for anything that was going free. The second engineer asked them if they wanted some scrap, when they said yes he sent myself and Peter the other junior engineer down to the engine room to bring up an old engine mounting bolt for them. It weighed around 60lbs, the second and third engineer lifted over the ships side and dropped it staight through their wooden boat. The last we saw of them they were paddling like crazy to raech the shore. It wasnt surprising because the river is full of Garriols, (a species of crocodile). So we left Chalna and headed for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), to pick up water. We were only there for one day, and it took about five days steaming time.




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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 01/07/2007 : 23:45

The ships engine was cooled by a heat exchanger system. Basically, sea-water is pumped through an outer casing, which cools the main engine freshwater in an internal casing. On engine start up the engineers have to keep a very keen eye on the engine temperatures. The normal temp was around 135 degrees F. The sea water temperature also had a great influence on the engine temperature. An increase of just a couple of degrees in the sea water temp could increase the engine temp by as much as 10 degrees F.

When doing manouvres the second or third engineer usually manned the sticks (the engine controls). Dave (the second engineer) showed me how to drive the engines from the telegraph instruction a couple of times. The feeling of controlling an engine of 4000 SHP is exhilarating. In the years to come driving 4000 horse was relatively small potatoes compared to,The Silver Tower (one of the ships I was on in the nineties)  her engine was 30,000 SHP.

It is at this time that the engine room is at its most dangerous, as all the auxilliary equipment is running. On modern vessels all the auxilliary equipment can be controlled from the engine control room. In 1970 there wasn't that kind of luxury and everything had to be controlled manually. Air starting pressure for example was 450 PSI. so the air tanks had to be continually monitored for pressure, If the ship was unable to respond to a telegraph command because the air pressure was too low to start the engine, then the consequences could be catastrophic. All the generators were working at this time as the auxilliary equipment was electically drive. So the junior engineers would be running around like the proverbial blue ass fly to keep an eye on the equipment. When doing manouvres there was also a duty engineer who filled in the manouvre log. This was basically writing down all the telegraph commands, along with the time the commands were given. If the ship moved in an unusual manner (usually by bumping into something like the dockside) the word "Bump" was written in the log, this was to ensure that accurate information was available in case of any hull or dock damage.



Edited by - Invernahaille on 01 July 2007 23:48:57


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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 02/07/2007 : 13:26

Now for some of the down side of being in the M.N.

On the way to Colombo  (Ceylon) the Sparks (Radio Operator) received a message from Ellermans. It read something like " Inform Ferguson, 4th Engineer deeply regret your son involved in traffic accident, will be repatriated from Celon on arrival"

The atmosphere and morale on board just left the ship. It is difficult to explain but a ships crew hold an espirit de corps, very much alike to a close family. Eddy (Ferguson was kept in a state of complete inebriation for the two days before we arrived at Colombo. His last words to me as he left the ship were, this is what the Merchant Navy is about, and that is what you have to learn Rob. I liked Eddy as both a 4th Engineer, but also as a friend. I heard that his son made a complete recovery, but it took a long time for him to get well. Eddy's replacement was in Colombo when we arrived. I cant even remember his name now. I dont know if it was because he was new to the ship, but if I remember rightly he was given the cold shoulder treatment. It could have been because he had just completed his Second class part A, and attempted to tell Dave (the second Engineer, what he should and shouldnt be doing). Not an intelligent thing to do when you are a 4th engineer.

We completed taking on board the fresh water, and we also loaded coconut oil which was held in the port and starboard saddle tanks. These were two tanks about twenty feet square and about thirty ft deep. The coconut oil had to kept at around 70 degrees so that it didnt go rancid. So the boilers had to do more work to keep the internal heater coils up to temp.

Then it was full steam ahead for Durban, South Africa, for the final taking onboard of bunkers for the final leg of the trip home.

10 days later we arrived in Durban, on the way down one of the engineers discovered that he had contacted a tropical disease (trying to be polite here in case children are reading this)  whilst in Calcutta. As soon as we arrived in Durban he was sent up to the docks, he was also warned of the consequences of what would happen to him if he didnt return to the ship on time. A refferal as to my escapade on our last visit there. In fairness I was led to understand that the agent also received a severe warning for not getting me back to the ship, and therefore he was doubly sure of getting the engineer back on board punctually.

Meanwhile we proceeded with the work of getting the bunkers on board. If you are on duty on the way in (inother words you are doing the watch on entry to the bunkering dock) you usually also are on watch on leaving the dock because of the bunkering operation length. So it could be that you have worked a ful;ll twenty four hous without any sleep. This has a habit of making most engineers a little bit snappy to say the least. However, we embarked Durban on the last leg home, by this time it was late September,(the 20th to be precise). On the morning of the twenty fourth the Chief Engineer was waiting in the changing room when I left the engine room. I have some bad news for you son, he said. Then he began to read the telegram. "Please inform Bamford, Junior Engineer, deeply regret father died 23rd September. Our condolences. Ellerman Lines Ltd. I was in shock, although Ronnie had been ill for some time, I was not expecting this news so soon. Once again the atmosphere on board became tense. Strange things happen at sea when those kind of bad news arrive. People have disappeared from ships because they get depressed. Mainly due to the fact that they are trapped on a ship and cant do anything. I know of an instant were ann engineer removed the explosion covers on the engine casing and jumped into the engine when it was running, because he had received a dear john. I was really upset for a few days, but I never missed a watchkeeping duty. I just accepted the fact that thee was nothing I could do, and that the ship would be home in another two weeks.




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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 03/07/2007 : 01:50

About a week later, the engine room had been completely repainted by the engine room ratings. It looked pristine, the boilers had been painted with aluminium paint, and if I say so myself was a credit to the engineers. This was done to complete the handover on our return to the U.K.

We were scheduled to dock at Tilbury to the East of London. on the 14th of October.

We had our weekly emergency and lifeboat drill, and the second engineer ordered the engineers to remain on the boat deck after drill. It appears that some fluid had leaked from one of the boiler relief valves and he was not impressed that it had stained his nwly painted boiler. He just started ranting and raving about his paintwork, I tol;d him I would repaint it on my next watch, and he ranted even more saying we shouldnt have let it happen anyway, I swaer to god it was a little run about three inches long. When we all dismissed Davy Hunt the third came up to me and told me to ignore the reprimand, as it was impossible to stop all leakage from boilers. He also stated that the second engineer was inebriated. The next day the second apologised for his behaviour.

The final week returning to the U.K, became a free for all. The engineers would sneak up on each other throwing buckets of water at each other. The first time I got caught out the second was on the top plates shouting that something was amiss top side. I went running like a bat from hell up the engine room steps, only to be drenched by a bucket of water as I appraoched the top flight.

I got my own back at every opportunity.




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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 03/07/2007 : 03:18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of Worcester (2) built 1959. 1979 sold to Greece renamed Maria Diamanto. Damaged by stranding 1982, scrapped 1983.



Edited by - Invernahaille on 03 July 2007 15:35:26


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Invernahaille
Regular Member


669 Posts
Posted - 03/07/2007 : 16:00

We raeched Tilbury on schedule. It was Davy Hunts night for duty engineer, but his girlfriend was at the quayside as we docked. All the other engineers refused to take his duty rosta so it fell upon yours truly to do the duty. Peter the cadet didnt do duty rosta because although he was sailing acting junior, he was still a cadet. Strange, but in two months time he would be a second engineer.

By, the following morning all the engineers, except, me signed off. I was a bit brassed off because I wanted to get home to see what was developing. I received mail from my younger sister telling me that she had given up the house in Newhey, and had moved to live with our  mother. So I had arrived back in the U.K. homelesss.

I did night duty enginner and had to ensure that the tanks containing the coconut oil were brought up to 100 degrees F. This was to ensure that it did not lose its heat when being transferred to the roadtankers the next day.

By 10.00 o'clock the next day I had signed off and was winging my way up north to see what remained of my family.

So I had completed my first trip, and I was now an old sea dog. My leave was quite eventful. I had amassed 8 weeks leave. After two weeks I was bored to tears. I contacted a couple of guys that I knew and did some textile machinery erection for them, for about a month. It was whilst I was on leave I bought my first house. It was newly built in Littleborough. Cost me 3,000 pounds. I signed mortgage and legal papers the day before I joined my next ship, I never lived in it. I sold it several months later for 4,500 pounds.

At this time things were developing in the Merchant Navy. Ellermans in partnership with a few other companies were slowly moving away from conventional cargo ships. They were investing heavily in a new company called A.C.T. (Associated Container Transport) they already had a couple of ships called act 1 act 2 etc. The was the sounding of the death knell for M.N. personell, but at the time we didnt know it. Ellermans had 90 something ships when I joined them, by 1976/7 there were 3.

More of my seagoing career to follow.




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 04/07/2007 : 07:25
Keep posting Robert, lots are reading but not commenting, it's good stuff.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk Go to Top of Page
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