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Thread: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    Ocean Tramping Company (OTC) of Hong Kong was a very interesting company to work for. It was a subsidiary of COSCO, with many of the ships operating under the British (Hong Kong) flag with British Commonwealth certificated officers and a Chinese crew. At one stage a number of the ships were registered under the Somali flag with home port Mogadiscio. Later in the 1970's, many of the ships reverted to the Panama flag and as more Chinese officers were trained they gradually took the place of the British. Eventually this company was merged with Yick Fung Shipping and Enterprises and several other COSCO subsidiaries operating from Hong Kong and became Cosco Hongkong Shipping (CHS).

    Within OTC there were a number of subsidiary companies including, from memory, Nanyang Shipping (mainly Somali flag ships) and Hemisphere Shipping (mainly Hong Kong ships). There were no doubt more subsidiaries involved.

    I sailed with OTC several times between 1971 and 1974, firstly as First Mate of MV “Hemisphere” (Somali flag, with Mogadiscio port of registry) and later as Master of MV “Bihua” (British flag, with Hong Kong port of registry).

    Within OTC there were a number of subsidiary companies including, from memory, Nanyang Shipping (mainly Somali flag ships) and Hemisphere Shipping (mainly Hong Kong ships). There were no doubt more subsidiaries involved. The operated as part of an integrated fleet of about fifty ships.

    The OTC fleet was basically divided into three sections, (1) ships sailing exclusively between ports in China, (2) ships sailing on fairly short services from China to Asian countries, and (3) ships trading 'foreign' from China to anywhere in the world. There were also a couple of oil tankers in the fleet.

    Vessels operating exclusively on the China coast were second hand, some pre-Worle War 2, with many being wartime standard built vessels – ex Empires, Forts, Parks and Oceans. There were also a number of ex British tramp ships in this service, with some former Hain Norse vessels coming to mind. They were mainly involved in the 'black and tan' trade – coal south from Ching Wang Tao (now named Qinghuangdao) to southern China ports and iron ore to northern China ports from Hainan Island.

    The Asian services were mainly operated by small vessels around 3,000 – 4,000 gross tons. There were a number of former Swire and Jardine vessels operating in this trade plus some ex-Australian coasters. Many of these vessels had names with the suffix 'ford', such as 'Frankford', 'Wishford' 'Fairford' 'Rochford' and 'Greenford'. Some rather colourful characters were sailing as officers in these ships, nearly all living in Hong Kong and wanting to stay close to home.

    Ships on foreign going voyages came from many and varied backgrounds but could be characterised as being general cargo vessels in good condition. OTC purchased a number of vessels from Blue Funnel Line, with most becoming OTC's “K” class with names like “Kaising” ex “Diomed” and “Kaiyun” ex “Antenor”; and the “H” class with names like “Hungmien” ex “Dolius” and “Hungsia” ex “Demodocus”.

    The British officers manning these vessels almost invariably stayed at the Mariners Club (The Missions to Seamen 'hotel') when waiting for a ship. A lot of friendships were made here, and some great characters too! Around the corner from the Mariners Club, in Minden Row, there was a bar called the 'Four Sisters' where there was a very laid back atmosphere and where one was quite likely to pick up a job as it was the first place the various companies phoned in their search for a Master or Chief Engineer!

    You did not mention the name of your brother, but if you did it is very likely that someone on this website may remember him.

    I wish you good luck with your search.

    Regards, Ted

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  3. #12
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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    Hi Valerie

    When I wrote the above post yesterday I did not realise you had also posted on the 'Welcome - Please say hello' forum. I have now read your other post and know that your uncle was indeed Alexander Charles (Sandy) Walker. I am so sorry to learn of his death through Alzheimers ... it was a sad way to go for somebody so full of life.

    Although I cannot claim to be a close friend of Sandy and never sailed with him, I certainly met him at the Mariners Club many times when we both happened to be staying in Hong Kong in the early 1970's. He was indeed employed by Ocean Tramping Co., and I recall him sailing as First Mate in OTC's smaller ships plying the Asian routes. A vessel called "Wishford" is at the back of my mind as being Sandy's ship, but at this length of time I'm not certain. I seem to recall at some stage he had an apartment in Hong Kong and used to come over to the Mariners Club for a drink in the evenings. So began a number of delightful evenings (lasting sometimes into the later early hours!) during which we set the world to rights many times. There were usually a number of us Hong Kong based officers present, sometimes doing a pub crawl, other times just quietly satisfied with each others' company in the Four Sisters Bar.

    Sandy was a gentleman. He was generous to a fault and always cared for those in his company. If someone was broke it was Sandy who offered him a drink; and if someone had had a little too much to drink it was always Sandy who would make sure he got back OK to his room in the Mariners Club. He was also a well read, well informed man who had an opinion and would quietly put it without loudness or rancour. You knew where he stood.

    I am some ten years younger than Sandy, and found his knowledge of ships and the sea was unlimited. I picked up a lot of knowledge from him during those pub crawls! To the best of my knowledge Sandy only ever held a British First Mate's certificate. I heard that Ocean Tramping Company thought so much of him that they finally persuaded him to apply for a Panama Masters certificate, and once obtained he was put on OTC's larger vessels as Master, tramping around the world. You mentioned the "Jollity", and that was certainly one of OTC's ships. I do recall that he was often asked why he wouldn't get a British Master's certificate, and he only said he was happy sailing as First Mate. I certainly recall hearing that OTC kept him on the one ship for a very long time because the Master had a bad heart and they trusted Sandy to take over if needed!

    There can't be many of us Hong Kong officers left now out of the dozens that had been there, and it is rather sad hearing that Sandy is no longer with us. I do hope this small amount of information will help fill in some of the gaps in Sandy's family history. If anything more about him comes to mind I'll let you know.

    I will also post this on your other forum as it may fill in some blanks there.

    Kind regards, Ted

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    The HK companies were attractive to those seeking early command in order to progress onto a position with BOT.

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    #14... I was mate on a ship in 1970 owned by one of Harley Mullions sons, she was under the Gibralter flag and had been under any flag of convenience previous, but without going into too much detail about this ship, the owner came on board and told me they were probably going to buy the old I think it was called the Eastern Queen and I think she carried passengers one of China Steams ships I believe. He said they were going to crop off the passenger accommodation and make her purely for cargo, and was I interested in going master on. After he was gone I was talking to the master who informed me I was relieving him in the not too distant future as he was going to the same ship mentioned, and the ship I was on was earmarked for a transport ship on the Hooghley. As the ship at the time was capable of about 4 knots and there is a 10 knot bore current on the Hooghley at times, I said no way Hosea Anyhow it never materialized as I left the wreck I was on in Japan and shortly after she went to the scrapyard I was informed by someone on the site. I went for years previous to this thinking she had been lost with all hands and had a bad conscience about. Whether any of the would be plans of the owner came to fruition I have no idea. Cheers JWS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 1st May 2017 at 02:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    As an aside to the previous the master of the ship I was on at time I didn't see eye to eye with at times. Within the hour of the owner leaving he had me in his cabin trying to impart what knowledge he thought I should have. The first one was that he had lost the key to the safe and all the cash he showed me was hidden inside the old windy up telephone in his cabin, other so called necessary documents ascertaining to the ship were hidden inside his lifejacket. It was like a nautical keystone cops. Why he didn't just get a safe man down to open I don't know but had been like that for the previous 9 months. Was a waste of time anyhow him trying so early to do a hand over so early as wasn't going to happen, as was not what I was told by the owner. Cheers JWS

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    Was never on a Tramp steamer, but once went for a tramp in the woods and boy was he unhappy about it.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    Quote Originally Posted by happy daze john in oz View Post
    Was never on a Tramp steamer, but once went for a tramp in the woods and boy was he unhappy about it.
    ###a tramp was a wonderful way to go to sea ..when you were young and had no responsability .....it was true freedom of the world ....and taught us who we really were ...not what we had been told who we were......some go through life never knowing themselves ....i never met a merchant seamam who did not truly know his worth and himself.....cappy

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    My happiest times were on tramp ships, sailing South waiting to hear where the cargo was and where we were to take it, rumours flying around the ship as to where we were going, some started for a joke I suspect. To settle down into watches for a long sea voyage was bliss. Cans of beer on the stern, chatting away about anything and everything, but noticeable after a few days the talk was more often on what the females were like at the next destination, happy days, kt

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    Does anyone remember Capt. Alan Hogg who sailed in the Far East in the 1960's and 1970's? He arrived in Paris with no luggage and a lost memory after being in command of a ship in Singapore or Hong Kong.
    I don't think his family ever found out what happened but I am curious to know if anyone came across him or knows what happened.
    Regards, Alan Sharp

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    Default Re: Ocean Tramping Co., Ltd.

    ##sailed with a hogg in runcimans 58 or 9...dont know if he was alan or not ...js new him well he might know if its your man....cappy

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