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Thread: Churchill's atlantic convoys

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    Agree on the Castle mail run, i recall we had a lifeboat race in one of the South African ports, forget which, the winners got a crate of beer. The lifeboats did not have oars, it was levers on both sides, which drove the propellor, the first time i had used that type. On the homeward run from Capetown, lifeboat drill i lost the tip of my finger , when the boat was lowered down the track, while i was releasing the griping wire and my hand still in the track. Those wet drills were always in calm water or harbour of course. In the books that i have read, on the Atlantic convoys , lowering of the life boats in heavy seas was the cause of a lot of lives lost. Trying to release the falls in a seaway, many times with the ship that had been torpedoed still under way. I can only imagine.
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    Keith you wouldn’t recognise the launching and recovery of rescue boats today . Although the most dangerous part is still the launching and recovery ,they are launched from a single wire and a quick release from the hook and the bridle which stays in the boat for recovery . The best launching ships I ever saw in the offshore industry were Haven Shipping who sold out to North Star of Aberdeen . I hope someone had the intelligence to take note of these vessels regardless of cost and fitted the same method. Apart from that particular trade , every supply vessel I was on all carried FRCs. Cheers JS
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  4. #23
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Tindell View Post
    The lifeboats did not have oars, it was levers on both sides, which drove the propellor, the first time i had used that type. e.
    I think it was called the Flemming System, but memory ain't what it used to be.

    Normal ships lifeboats were a bitch to handle, we had thirty days anchored off Famagusta, prior to joining the invasion fleet ('56) for Suez. We had good weather and bad weather, very bad at times, but we four cadets had to take a lifeboat out every day, we were not allowed to use the engine in the motor boat, oar power or sail only. The C/O told the Master that on some days it would be too dangerous and the Master's reply was 'tough titty' or words to that effect! We didn't like it at the time, but his reasoning was sound, being a WWII vet he had seen the incapable handling of lifeboats and wanted us to experience bad weather conditions, especially heading into the unknown. Of course sailing these blocks of wood with just four teenagers onboard they were flying light, so they were loaded with gin-blocks ** we found by putting these for'd we could get them to sail were we wanted to go as the boats were better controlled when down by the head, it was a good learning curve.

    ** for non seafarers 'gin blocks' are pulley blocks used at the head of a cargo derrick which the cargo runner (wire) goes through, they are called Gin-blocks to distinquish them from 'Heel-Blocks' at the foot of the derrick basically the same design, but sometime have a different fitting attached, so when overhauling the gear and the bosun says fetch a new gin block you know which one to bring, as you don't want a wasted journey or a kick up the ass and they are also heavy

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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    I donít know how long the Fleming propulsion System lasted Ivan .does anyone know ?rather think it had a short life cycle , good word that cycle ! Although the Fleming system believe it turned a propellor shaft.when most on this site went to sea if there were two boats or more there was at least one a motor lifeboat , this in fact was a requirement and had to have fuel for at least 100 miles ,its intended use was to tow other boats clear of the wreck you were leaving. I rather imagine that the boats used during the war for rescuing survivors would have been whalers a much more lighter and manouverable boat than a ships lifeboat which at the best of times was cumbersome .Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 4th June 2023 at 09:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    With regard to the launching of lifeboats, its something that has been discussed for many years. It was 60 years ago when i was at sea, but even then i remember thinking, hope this never happens for real, as there always seemed to be a problem , just in the drills, very dangerous operation. The following article is interesting on lifeboats in general.

    https://maritime-executive.com/index...ve-crew-safety
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    I am referring to rescue boats Keith in my post. Their launching requires care for the crew of for damage to themselves .Once clear of the shipside they are virtually unsinkable damage would be mostly be by explosion or fire . One has to wear seat belts when in as going at 35 knots in a force 6 doesn’t do the back much good . Hard hats and proper suits plus proper radio throat mikes are essential . A lot of boats in my time depending on the owners didn’t have the proper gear as regards some of these essentials .for suits they had old heli passenger suits discarded from Dyce airport , radios were hand held instead of head phones useless in any noise.hard hats were ordinary ones that bricklayers wear rather than the proper ones with built in radios. Think the cut off age for boat crew was about 35 due to wear and tear on body parts
    Most boat crews were anything up to 65 that I saw .
    Today I wouldn’t have a clue as to the conditions now being observed . Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 4th June 2023 at 10:43 AM.
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    Apart from in port or sheltered waters launching of life oats I have actually experienced launching of the lifeboat in an emergency when in open waters with high winds and heavy swell conditions. This was when we were abandoning ship due to engine room flooding. As there were ships standing by to pick us up it was decided to use the motor lifeboat only, sending half of us away then after they had been put on one of the rescue ships had picked them up the boat would return to pick up the rest of us.
    The actual launch went very smoothly with the falls being swiftly and safely unhooked and the engine quickly getting the boat clear of the ship. Of course the inevitable happened as half way to the rescue ship the engine conked out. The captain of the rescue ship, a Hansa line general cargo ship, manoeuvred his ship alongside the lifeboat and got everyone off safely. The rest of us were taken off in a R.I.B from a German research trawler.
    Most of the accidents to seamen during lifeboat drills seem to occur with davit launched totally enclosed lifeboats where the resetting of the automatic on board release system that operates on launching, seems overally complicated to reattach when recovering the boat.
    I never sailed with this type of lifeboat but did sail with free fall lifeboats, which I found excellent. Before doing an actual free fall launch we would ensure that all on board had taken part in a controlled launch where the boat is powered down the trackway and clear of the ship using the recovery system.
    Rgds
    J.A

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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    With free fall lifeboats John, maybe a silly question, but is everyone strapped in?. The reason i ask, i watched the film Captain Phillips and the Somali pirates, and when they launched the free fall lifeboats, they were not strapped in, seemed to me that that would not have been possible.
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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    Keith
    In free fall lifeboats you are each assigned a specific seat where you are strapped in with an over the shoulder and waist belt and in addition a head strap that holds your head tight against the seats headrest to prevent whiplash when the boat hits the water.
    Makes most roller coaster rides seems like a doddle.
    Rgds
    J.A

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    Default Re: Churchill's atlantic convoys

    Did several drops in free fall life boats. As John says everyone wears a seat belt. The ones I was on the only person facing forward was the boats Cox everyone else were facing aft. Did the free fall course up in Dundee. Cannot remember the height the boat fell but certainly during the later drops the tide was low water. First drop you are a bit apprehensive but once you have done it you realise how much safer a free fall boat is over a Davit launched boat

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