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Thread: Greek escapade!

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    Default Greek escapade!

    GREEK ESCAPADE!
    Well, NOT my first trip at sea, however, it WAS my first trip on my own as R/O (aged 20), and was VERY eventful to say the least.
    I flew from Heathrow to Thessaloniki in Greece, towards the end of 1973 to join the Chemical Carrier MV EID, which transported Tetra-Ethyl Lead from the plant in PASADENA, Texas, to wherever.
    When leaving Heathrow on an Olympic Airways flight, there was much fuss at the departure desk by officials, etc, and when finally allowed to board, all passengers were taken down at the end of the tunnel gate, onto the tarmac next to the plane hold and each had to personally identify their luggage to an official. There was much ado re the flight, and I soon found out why.
    On arriving at Thessaloniki (SALONIKA), I went to the information desk looking for anyone sent to meet me. Upon enquiring at the desk, I was picked up by a Military Officer and a couple of guards, (guns slung over their chest), and told to ‘accompany’ them. There was much rushing about at the airport at this time.
    I was taken to a room in some Military compound and questioned by a Translator, with a couple of Colonel types, dark glasses, scrambled egg, eyeing me suspiciously. And yes, the guards at the back of all this Gold Braid, all had machine guns across their chest, hands at the ready. This was quite worrying, I thought! What have Marconi sent me into here, the b******s?
    I was made empty my suitcase contents and my ‘portable’ cassette player/recorder seemed to draw a bit of interest. Documentation was checked, i.e. Passport, R/O Qualifications, etc. After multiple explanations were given as to my movements, and my reason for being in Salonika, the translator seemed to be trying to convince the seated officers that I was who I said I was. He DID keep trying to reassure me and told me to answer honestly, but I was getting a bit concerned at this point. The RADIO OPERATORS HANDBOOK, and my blues & whites helped my case, I hoped. The translator chap was indicating to the seated officers, and putting the handbook on the desk in front of them. This ‘interview’ went on for about 30 mins. One of the Colonel types was waving his hands as if to indicate to just get rid of me. I was then taken to another room with 5 or 6 soldiers in attendance, and told to wait there until summoned. At that point, I had this sudden vision of being put against a wall! This was even more worrying!
    Eventually, after about 20 minutes or so, but what that seemed a lifetime to me, the translator soldier arrived and told me to do exactly as I’m told and all will be well.
    I was then driven by the military (in the back seat, armed soldier either side), and taken to the Docks, right up to the gangway, to join the Ship, where once onboard, one of the Deck Officers was mighty relieved to see me (agent reported me A.W.O.L. at airport?).
    I appeared to have landed in Greece at the time of the revolt against the ’COLONELS’ military Junta ruling, by students in Athens & Thessaloniki. Some students & civilians were killed in the melee (about 24 methinks, including a 5yo hit by a stray bullet). Hence the carry-on at both airports & the reason for the ‘interview’. Did they think I was some kind of Mercenary? I was cursing Marconi quite a bit by this point, as you can imagine!
    A curfew was in place in town, and we would watch the Tanks come off ships early morning and roll through the town, then load up again later to go elsewhere for the same task.
    This went on for a couple of days, before we were eventually allowed into the town (under certain curfew conditions)….
    Well, I did manage a couple of enjoyable nights ashore before leaving port, one ‘plate throwing’ show being one of the events, but was keen to get going……and as far as the MV EID was concerned, she had more in store for me…… (Lost our auto steering mid-Atlantic, then later on, an SOS…we ran aground near the coast of Brazil, between Santos and Rio de Janerio), but they are other stories.

    After 10 months, and several requests to the Master by Marconi to be relieved, which he just ignored (original request being after 5 months), he went on leave for a spell. It was during this time upon returning to PASADENA, Texas, to attend to repairs & questions by agents re the grounding, that I took my chance to bolt. This is where it gets a bit hazy. I recall articles being ‘signed-off’ & expected to sign back on. Much annoyance was placed on my refusal to sign, at 4am I might add, (b******s thought I’d be half asleep and still under the influence of the previous nights libations in town!).
    Anyway, later on, repatriation was organised and off I went to Houston Airport, accompanied by a couple of police, or customs guys, and taken almost to the door of the plane, where I flew to New York to change for London Heathrow. So, my trip on the EID was sandwiched by officialdom, although, the US officers were much more pleasant, and over the moon when I gave one of them some British coinage, half-crown, Florin, Tanner, threepence, etc. His boy was a collector!....... (Alien as not under ships articles?), hence the escort. These guys were a laugh all the way to the Airport.
    Maybe that’s where my ‘missing’ discharge book went, left on the EID, I honestly can’t remember. Some leave due before going off again, which turned out to be my LAST trip at sea, and was much less fraught with that level of excitement, etc, and definitely more enjoyable.
    My parents were told NONE of this, and when describing this escapade to my mates once, it’s as a previously indicated… they just don’t believe it happened! I know different!,
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 3rd October 2020 at 08:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Nice one there Ricky
    More like these are needed on site, keep up the good Stories!
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Hi Ricky,
    I was in Greece at the start of the Colonel's taking over, '67 I think; sitting outside a bar with a bloody big tank on the corner was somewhat worrying for a seventeen year old. But as everyone else from the crew did not bat an eyelid I tried to act nonchalant (sic).
    Cheers, Paul.

    - - - Updated - - -

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Vernon View Post
    Nice one there Ricky
    More like these are needed on site, keep up the good Stories!
    Cheers
    Hi Doc,
    Beware of what you wish for, I have another story bubbling up, concerning a favourte captain I sailed with.
    Cheers, Paul.

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Fire Away Paul
    All good Yarns most welcome here!
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Interesting read Ricky.

    Cheers,

    Keith.
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Hi Paul.
    I hope you didn't go pale sitting there.
    Ah! only in jest much like at sea.
    Cheers Des
    Lest We Forget

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Hi Ricky
    I was fascinated to read your post about mv EID. I joined her in May 1973 as second mate and left in Cadiz in August of that year as I was not happy with the safety standards for carrying the TEL so probably lkeft shortly before you joined. I "engineered" my discharge citing family issues! According to my discharge book the master was J W Peck (or Pick? I only have his signature) was that the same one you sailed with? As as an aside the 3rd Engineers wife also left with me in Cadiz as she was about 7 months pregnant and I had to sign and take full responsibility for her before they would let us join the plane at Seville!

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    Default Re: Greek escapade!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Mundella View Post
    Hi Ricky
    I was fascinated to read your post about mv EID. I joined her in May 1973 as second mate and left in Cadiz in August of that year as I was not happy with the safety standards for carrying the TEL so probably lkeft shortly before you joined. I "engineered" my discharge citing family issues! According to my discharge book the master was J W Peck (or Pick? I only have his signature) was that the same one you sailed with? As as an aside the 3rd Engineers wife also left with me in Cadiz as she was about 7 months pregnant and I had to sign and take full responsibility for her before they would let us join the plane at Seville!
    Hi Tony,
    Yes, you are correct re Capt Peck, I had forgot his name completely. He was a Yorkshire man who had married an american woman, and settled somewhere in Florida. I recall ALL his mannerisms were becoming american! It was one of these traits prior to him going on leave, that he ordered the very colourful American METRIC charts for the bridge, and insisted that these be used upon receipt, instead of the admiralty charts. This is a factor in the issue of MV EID hitting a sandbank and grounding, off the coast of Brazil, near Rio, in some pretty horrible weather. Pretty sure the 1st Mate at the time I joined was from Strathaven, Scotland, but he went on leave and a Danish chap replaced him, who took charge on the grounding. I may tell the tale of the Grounding and events at a later juncture! There was a big Irishman from Donaghadee, who usually was good company ( I still have the Ballpoint Pen 'Tattoo' on my leg where he stabbed me with his pen one day, because I happened to mimic the Rev Ian Paisley... he did NOT like that at all). Apart from that, he was good company, and used to give us younger ones cash to go ashore in Santos, Brazil, or anywhere for that matter, to visit the 'Cafes & Museums', ... for a cheque of course!
    Like you, I had to look for an opportunity to depart the ship, after being on board for 10 months, I'm sure. I was waiting upon getting back over to Dordrect, Nederlands, for my chance, but took my opportunity when Articles signing came up whilst in Pasadena, Texas!
    I always wondered how Mr Peck would have acted upon returning from leave, not that I cared a jot! He would have kept me there as long as possible, as he completely ignored ALL requests from Marconi re any repatriation for me. He was a grumpy b*****d, but the other guys were ok... so that made it tolerable, and I did have some good times in Santos and various other ports. The TEL was a worry at times, as you say. Good to here from you Tony,
    Regard
    Ricky
    Last edited by Ricky Baird; 7th October 2020 at 12:08 PM.

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