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Thread: Shipyard Memories

  1. #1
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    Default Shipyard Memories

    Back in the early 80's after leaving seagoing and 'swallowing the anchor' I ended up working for marine electronics companies installing equipment (some of which I had been previously responsible for operating) on new builds at various shipyards. The best of the shipyards that I ever worked in was Appledore in Devon.

    It was a combination of the location, the locals, the atmosphere in the yard and a general attitude of 'lets get it done'. Having experienced strongly union regulated yards in the NE, Scotland and Merseyside the yard at Appledore was a blessing for a 'contractor' like me. Much of the funny, serious/funny and generous acts during the fitting of three ships at that yard have stuck with me for many years.

    The 'local' shipwrights, almost without exception would always lend a hand with a modification to get something to fit or lifting something in place. A good example of this was one chap who handed me an open ended spanner that he had 'modified' by cutting off the end and braising it back at an angle so that I could get at a certain nut without a struggle. He said 'here you go matey, made that for you at smoko - it'll save you a lot of work in the future'. I still have it!

    Then there was the sea trials on one ship off Lundy Island. We were just building up for speed trial on the measured mile. I was testing the radio transmitter...tuned up to full power on 4Mhz, pressed the morse key...... and the ship went hard a port just as she started the run! Ooops! That was a major re-route of some of the wheelhouse cables away from the radio room after we got back to the yard.

    Same trials.....lots of engineroom alarms ..... Owners representatives none too happy. After 'smoko' we had a re-run of full power trials and full ahead to full astern etc ...... no alarms! I asked the yard electrical manager how he had cleared the alarm faults in a half hour smoko "Easy boy" he said "Linked the buggers out!"

    Finally, and not to bore you too much, British Shipbuilders sent a load of Scots down from the Clyde yards to lend a hand at Appledore when they had a couple of new builds on the go. Funniest thing.....they all used to pick up their pay packets locally in the yard. Take some cash out and hand the remainder to a 'trusted mate' in their gang for him to send it home to the family. They would then go out on the razz on market day in Appledore when the pubs were open all day....... you can imagine the state most of them got in. The foreman would give them unlimited overtime over the weekend to make up for what they'd spent.

    Happy days....

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    Default Re: Shipyard Memories

    Cannot say that i am close to any of your Jobs in Ports , however i did for a time work in Cape Town Harbour as Tally Clerk, and must say that for the duration i was there with Mitchell Cotts and Company , i was very happy and enjoyed the work, being close to all the incoming and outgoing Ships of that time, it was a real Eye Opener seeing all that actually went on in the Docks, the hustle and bustle of all various types of work and the manner in which it was all carried out.
    Yes not at Sea but as close as dammit! LOL
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    Default Re: Shipyard Memories

    My husband for a time in WA worked at Vickers Hydraulics installing hydraulic equipment and maintenance on fishing boats. Several times I went out with him while he tested the install. One day the hydraulics failed and oil went everywhere. Dear hubby just watched as they slipped around on deck. When I asked why he said "those guys are doing a good job no need for me to get oily they get that way all the time" LOL
    Last edited by Victoria Moss; 15th October 2020 at 06:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Shipyard Memories

    Peter I can echo your thoughts on shipyards and ship repairs of all types in NE. Merseyside and Scotland, the attitude 'not my job mate' prevailed at all times. I know that some maybe would have liked to have helped, but would have been called scabs by their workmates and have been accused of doing their mates out of a job. The best repair yards as a supt I found to be in Holland as nothing was too much trouble and if they said you would get your ship back at xxxxhours on yy/yy/yy that is when you got it back, not 5 -10 days later than the date predicted in UK yards. At sea I always found the Japanese yards to be most efficient when drydocking. Always heard good reports about Appledore, but for the smaller vessels 2000/3000dwcc always found Cochranes at Selby to be the most helpful and getting those dead vessels down the Ouse from Selby and into Hull for fitting out always amazed me.

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    Default Re: Shipyard Memories

    Ivan

    Yes. Some good stories from the yards. Cammell Lairds was fun - but because of the scouse sense of humour not the work ethic. I remember fitting a main transmitter into a ships radio room and asking the foreman if I could get a welder to tack the transmitter plinth to the deck. The welder arrived and looked at the plinth, looked at the transmitter and said " You want me to weld that plinth there, for that transmitter thing?" to which I replied in the affirmative. When we got round to fitting the transmitter, we found our office had sent the wrong model plinth so had to get a welder back to remove the incorrect plinth and refit the correct one. The same guy arrived back after a day or two. He said "I could have told you that transmitter thing wouldn't fit on that base". I said "Well why didn't you?". He said, "Cos you said weld that there, so that's what I did!" Needless to say, I have left the few expletives out of he conversation.....

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    Default Re: Shipyard Memories

    In 66 joined the Westmorland as 6 eng whilst she was being built at Greenock, great ship. In 68 joined the Eridene as 3 eng building in Japan, quite a contrast in dockyards and working styles. Attempting to hand pump oil from a drum via a breather pipe on deck to no avail. The dockyard crew wore spotless khaki jackets, trouser ,hard hat and gloves. Approaching four of them squatting and eating bowels of rice caused the Team leader to jump up and bow deeply to me. Explaining the problem, his eyes started to water accompanied by many " sorries", he barked at his team and they all bowed to me and then tackled the offending pipe. Each man unbolting one of the four nuts. Obstruction found , removed and normal work recommenced.
    Great times

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    Default Re: Shipyard Memories

    Did a Guarantee drydocking 1 year late for a Mitchibusy ( spelling lousy) built ship in Yokohama.Would take too long to go through experiences in the yard, but most were enjoyable. Especially at the final day when everyman and his opposite shipyard number sat on the cushions crosslegged eating and drinking and toasting each other with saki poured down or assisted by a make belief Geisha sitting on her knees slightly astern of him. Even had a chauffer driven car to take me ashore at nights. Slightly different than Smiths Drydock North Shields where had to take Shanks Pony to the delights of the Jungle , second pub out the bottom gate, and had to fork out for your own. Ship was the Maratha Envoy. Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 22nd October 2020 at 01:05 AM.
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