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Article: An incident at sea

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    An incident at sea

    6 Comments by David Anderson Published on 22nd January 2019 08:55 PM
    Some years ago I joined a supply boat in Macae, Brasil, as Chief Engineer, it was operated by a German Captain with Philipino and Brazilian crew members. We sailed almost straight away.
    The second engineer told me that the low level alarm on one of the engines did not operate, and the Lube Oil Purifier sometimes loosing its seal. I told him that we would use it at sea with someone in the engine room but not use it in port with the engine room not manned continuously.
    It was before the E Mail and a found an electronic device that allowed me to inform the owners. It was never repaired.
    The German Captain was very efficient, he liked his drink but we tested the alarm systems every weekend.
    Things went well and one day we were in Macae and the Captain was ashore. The Bosun rang me and told me to start the engines as he wanted to sail the boat, I asked him if the Captain was available and he told me he was still ashore. I refused to do as he asked. The Captain arrived after midnight and we sailed.
    Some time later the Captain was relieved by a Philipino. We sailed to a rig and discharged cargo. We had to go back to Port, as soon as we left the rig one of the propellers stopped. I went to the bridge to talk to the Captain and he told me that rather than work on the joystick as we always did he tied up to the rig, The rope entered the water and fouled a propeller.
    I told him when he cleared it we still had a good one and we should go to port.
    I went to bed. I was woken by one of the crew who told me the engine room was on fire. I went down and all appeared well, I entered the control room and again all was well. I opened the watertight door to the steering flat and found a number of cables on fire. I used an extinguisher to put the fire out.
    I went to the Bridge and asked the Captain why the alarms did not operate, He told me when he joined the lights showed it was off and switched it on and it did not work. He never mentioned this and what he did switched off the alarm system. If he did not understand why did he not ask?
    He had not cleared the rope and had damaged the other propeller.
    We went to port and told the owners, we had to go to a dry dock in Niteroi.
    In the dock both propellers where in poor condition.
    It was time for me to leave the rig and the owners sent out one of their Chief Engineers and an Electrical Superintendent.
    The superintendent told me that I could call my wife from his Hotel So I told him and my replacement who had been Chief on a number of the companies boats, about the engine without an alarm and told him them with no one in the engine room we did not run it.
    When we came back we found out that the engine had been run and lost its bearings.
    I stayed on the boat until it was repaired then left. When I went to sign off I was told that I had never signed on.
    Sometime later I was called to Aberdeen and informed because I had left the replacement Chief on the rig and had refused to sail the rig when asked I was to be sacked. Strange as I joined and sailed that morning, never having been on such a boat before.
    Funny fact I only went there to resign anyway.
    I was also told the Electrical Superintendent had killed himself, they did not tell me why. I have often wondered if it was because he objected to me being sacked.
    Which causes me deep distress because he appeared to be a good man.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: An incident at sea

    Nice interesting Post
    Thank you
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: An incident at sea

    Very interesting.

    Regards,

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

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    Default Re: An incident at sea

    Hi David.
    Well written and shows how things deteriorated in the MN, probably companies cutting corners, and using foreign labour helped.
    Cheers Des

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    Default Re: An incident at sea

    The sad thing was the Company did not appear to care what happened to the ship and decided to sack me, even though I had done everything I could to make things right. What saddened me was the fact that the Electrical Superintendent killed himself, and now I am ill I worry that he did I because he knew what they where doing to me. The Pilipino Captain was the main cause of all the troubles and my replacement ignored what I had explained to him. But someone had to take the blame. At the time I was going to leave them anyway. I went to an oil rig inspection company and ended up as a trainer for Lloyds Register, and am now retired.
    I cannot help but feel sorry for the Electrical Supers wife and family.

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    Default Re: An incident at sea

    David like so many of us who were caught in the web of the decline of the British merchant Navy , I can certainly read your account with a lot of sympathy and was typical of other cases I was very closely aware of. On in a past post was a chief I sailed with at various times , a time served shipyard electrician who finished up chief with me on a well known offshore North Sea company. In 1989 I was master on one of their ships working out of Lerwick. On receiving instructions to rejoin in 4 days time in Lerwick also, I did the usual and asked for a crew list. They. Said we are being goodto you and giving you two mates and the chief 2 engineers, I said good, how about the rest , he said a cook and a Bosun, good I said how about the rest, he said that’s it, I said no way Hosea, what about boat crews , which was the main point of such vessels. He said no that’s it you can utilise the 2 mate. And 3engineer as needed. I told him please accept my 3 day’s termination of employment . He then kicked up a fuss and put one of the. Directors on the line who repeated what the crew manager had said. So I repeated the same to him and put the phone down and that was it. I later went up to the local. To see the chief and put him in the picture, however it was too late for his3 day’s notice so he went back. I was in the pub the following week and he’s sitting there, I said what happened. He had rejoined, the E.R. Bilges were full of diesel he ordered a tanker to pump ashore the company cancelled. He. Sailed they had an ER fire , he set off the co2 or think may have been a Halyon the other system.put the fire out , and the ship had to go back into Lerwick on 1 engine. He was told if he accepted the blame he would get a good reference for his next job. By that time I had been re-employed elsewhere so managed to get him a berth there. That same company I believe went defunct and think Tidewater bought them out. As regards Smiths shipyard had two uncles who were. Riveters there, also a good friend who was later drowned in the North Sea about the same time as already mentioned , he had been a ship manager there , and went to sea in Port Line I think. You may also have known my cousin Tommy Kempster an engineer who lived at the top of Howard Street in a flat above a driving school. He also was drowned at sea. I may even know you but the name doesn’t strike any bells unless you were with Runciman or Dalgliesh. Cheers can’t say better luck next time as there is no next time. But don’t let the baskets get you down. Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 6th February 2019 at 10:26 AM.

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    Default Re: An incident at sea

    Things in the British Merchant Navy certainly dropped, and my time on a supply boat showed how bad it was. The biggest problem was the Pilipino Skipper they sent out. He sailed that night. He took no notice of how the boat was operated alongside the offshore rig and tied up to it. He took no notice of how the ropes where let loose and one rope wrapped around a propeller and wiped it out. I advised him to go back to Macae to check things out, not knowing that there was still a length of rope attached to it. This rope then latched onto the second propeller a few hours later and blacked us out and damaging the electronics on the propulsion. It never passed my mind that a Master would not check that all the rope was clear.
    I managed to set one propeller up to allow us to sail to a drydock in Rio. In the dock both propellers where wrecked.
    The company sent out a chief to relieve me he had worked on a lot of supply boats in the North Sea. We had a problem with a generator on which the lube oil shut down did not work. I explained that when we where in port we did not run this generator. The Electrical Superintendent told me I could go to his hotel to phone my wife and tell her I was coming home. My replacement was happy with this, we where gone two hours and when we returned he told me that the generator that I had told him not to use had failed and lost its bearings. I volunteered to stay until it was fixed and then went home. I was asked to go to the office in Aberdeen and they told me I was wrong to leave my replacement on the boat as he did not understand it. I as Chief had handed over to my reliefs on cargo ships after a few hours of talking and went down a ladder and been shipped ashore and gone home. How an experienced Chief had not done as asked I do not understand. As it happens had I not been sacked I would have told them I was leaving anyway. I was unhappy to be sacked but glad I did not work for them any more, but sad to hear the Electrical Superintendent had killed himself. In the short time I knew him I found him very acceptable and good to deal with.

    Regards
    Dave Anderson
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 4th September 2019 at 08:25 PM.

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