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Thread: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

  1. #11
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    The 100 fathom line off the Cape is notorious for the "hole in the sea"
    A Ben Ship was almost torn in half after going down one and had to be towed stern first to Durban
    The warm Aghulas Current comes down from the NE and meets the cold Benguela current coming up from the SW with a Westerly wind the two meet, the Aghulas current takes a dive over the 100 fathom line and the Benguela current reares up over the top and creates a huge wall of water and a long run down to the base . A ship runs down the `hill with no chance of getting out and then hits the wall of water which then folds up over the ship. the weight of water then takes it down or at least wrecks it. as in the case of the Ben Boat around 1978 ish

    When I was on the VLCCs with ESSO we had warnings on them and diagrams explaining the situation when approaching the Cape area. Many ships were badly damaged at the time with those kind of seas.

    I joined the QE2 the voyage after she had hit the Wave in October 1995 on the way to New York.
    Captain Warwick at the time said it was like the white cliffs of Dover approaching.
    The wave was estimated at 95 feet high, a large dent was left on the foredeck.She was very strongly constructed, built for the Western ocean, some of the newer cruise vessels would have folded up in that.
    The Queen Mary hit a 95 footer beam on and went over 52 degrees, doing quite a bit of damage to the accommodation.

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  3. #12
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    Once again a great article Gulliver, many thanks. It brought back many memories some pleasant many not so. Back in the late seventies I was Managing Director of the Iranian subsidiary of an U.S. International catering company and I won the contract to convert both the Michelangelo and the Raffaello into hotels in Ports in Iran, then managing them both as military hotels in Bushhier and Bandar Abbas. Thus I sailed on the last voyage of the Michelangelo from Genoa to Bandar Abbas via Suez.

    regards Rodney.

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    images of the incident - including one of her being broken up
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    Post #11
    Always a treacherous piece of Ocean thetre Capt. Also those Cape Rollers just before you enter Cape Town are notorious for a lot of Ships being damaged or Sunk!
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    Very true there Vernon, but at times it never looked so bad, but they were there just under the surface and boy could they give you a bit of a shock when you hit them.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    I can remember being mid Atlantic in a flat bottomed Fyffes banana boat with 60ft waves rolling by and having to sleep head between my knee's in the bottom of a 3ft square wardrobe. It did require a good few shot's of wobbly juice to actually get some shuteye.

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    Capt. John Beaton - I think I sailed with him on the SS Matina 1961, he was 3/O

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    What an account as with others on this site I'd never heard of it. Can't imagine the horror experienced by those on board, having been to Iceland in force 10 + thats bad enough. As for the comments of modern largely aluminium ships, the QE2 was aluminium from the main deck up. In April 1973 she left New York bound for Southampton, on arrival day Soton she was off the West Coast of Africa a course deviation of a thousand miles. She had travelled the Atlantic in the eye of a Hurricane, a great many of the panoramic restaurant windows had suffered fatigue at the corners and the aluminium cracked. The repair was L shaped aluminium patches welded in place which I imagine saw her through her final sea going days.

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    Pure Ali is no longer in use.
    On most cruise ships all the upper decks a re of a metalic composition to give strength whilst reducing weight.
    Ali on it's own has little strength when under pressure and stress such as would be experienced in rough seas.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Cruise Ship of Yesterday.....Michaelangelo & Freak Wave

    In 1972 I was a junior engineer on a steam turbine tanker called the Mobil Daylight and we were crossing the Australian Bight, en route for the Persian Gulf. Like the Southern end of the Mozambique Channel, this is another stretch of water that seems to get more than its fair share of heavy weather and is much respected by seafarers.

    One night, an extremely frightening incident took place, which I can only describe as feeling like the ship had fallen down a hole. The weather had been a little rough but no more than around force 8 or 9, which on a well found tanker of 96,000 tons was nothing to worry about at all. We were on a ballast passage, the ship was rolling gently and I was just starting to nod off to sleep, having come off watch at 4 in the morning. I suddenly became aware that the ship was starting to angle steeply down by the bows, which was most alarming, as a ship of this size and length hardly ever pitches more than a few degrees even in very severe weather. Knowing that something must be badly wrong I was out of bed in a flash and groping for my boiler suit when there was a terrific thump and the whole ship started shaking itself violently, like a giant dog that has just come out of the water. This lasted several seconds and was followed by the roar of escaping steam from the funnel, after which the engineers’ alarm sounded.

    When I arrived down in the engine room, it was to find everything in complete confusion: the main turbines had tripped out on over-speed and were now slowing down, the boiler safety valves were blowing furiously as the steam demand had suddenly gone from maximum to next to nothing and the whole control console was lit up with red flashing warning lights. As if we didn’t have enough on our plate, we then got a phone call to say that the bridge was flooded, the radar was out and there was no steering either!

    It transpired that we had been hit by an enormous wave which the 2nd mate on the bridge estimated was more than 80 feet high – high enough at any rate to smash the light at the top of our foremast! He had happened to glance at the radar and spotted a large blip on the screen that he thought was a rain squall approaching. It was a dark night and it was only when the wave was very close that he picked out the white crest and knew it for what it was – he said it was the most terrifying moment of his life. In front of the huge wave was an equally big trough, and it was the ship starting to slide down into this that had woken me up. Being so long and heavy, the ship had not been able to rise up again in time to ride over the wave that followed and had simply buried her bows into it like a submarine. The Daylight had been built in the older style with the bridge amidships and a solid wall of water had thundered across the foredeck and smashed against the front of the bridge superstructure, breaking several of the bridge windows in the process. As the wave passed down the ship, the stern had lifted far enough for the propeller to come out of the water and start racing, which had caused the governor to operate the over-speed trip.

    At first we thought we had lost all means of steering from the bridge and an engineer went to the steering flat and operated it from there instead, getting his helm orders relayed to him by telephone. This was something that we checked periodically but it remains the only time I ever saw it used in earnest. After some more testing we found that although the automatic pilot and the electric tiller control had been lost, the old fashioned ship’s wheel and telemotor system was still working, so we could go back to bridge steering with a seaman on the wheel. The gyro compass had also been knocked out, so we had to use the magnetic one for a change.

    Back down below it took some time to work out how to reset the over-speed trip, as nobody had ever seen this particular gadget operate before but after about twenty minutes of furious activity we were back in some sort of order.

    As for the 2nd mate and the seaman on watch – they had just had time to duck down behind the chart table as the wave struck and had escaped with no more than a soaking and a bad fright but it took a week for ‘Sparks’ to dry out and fix the radar. All things considered we had had a lucky escape, as a smaller vessel might well have been overwhelmed.

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