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Article: SS. British Industry

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    SS. British Industry

    1 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 26th November 2019 08:53 PM
    Posted on behalf of Spencer Lewis with many thanks - Great Tales


    SS. British Industry



    This ship was to be my first deepsea ship. I had been working for 9 months on the BP Tankers laid upon the River Fal.
    The BP Superintendent Mr. Johnstonsent a Taxi from Falmouth to pick me up at King Harrys Ferry landingleaning the British Piper, take me and my Bags to Falmouth to join aBP Super tanker, 32,000 tons, for me that was massive as the ships Iworked on in the Fal were all 8,000 /12,000 tons.
    They were all Motor ships, this wasa Steam turbine that could push the ship to 16 Knots, but withadjustments to the Fuel burners could make 18 knots.
    British Industry, just out of DryDock on the lay by berth finishing off minor repairs, When I walkedon board, I could immediately see the size in the length and the Beam“Breadth”.
    Introduced to the chief Steward anice guy from Peterhead, but at least I could understand him! WillieReid. Later in in my career I was to know him and his Wife verywell.
    The catering staff compliment was 13men which included 3 off us boy ratings. All assistant stewards worea white jacket with silver buttons, and the Company emblem on thefront pocket, I thought this was good Catering boys had chefstrousers and a White T shirt, certainly a change from the River Falstyle.
    I signed on the ships Articles onthe 23.06.1961, finally got possession of my seaman’s book R732359I would not see the book again until we paid off.
    I was not like a First trip boy, asI had my schooling on the ships laid up, that was a big help.
    Later when I looked up at the shipfrom the Quayside I realized how big she was, comparing her to otherships in Falmouth at that time. I must admit I felt quite proud. Thesize made me think could this ship roll in bad weather! I found outlater.
    On signing the Ships Articles, wewere allowed an advance on our wages , depending your Salary, I wasallowed GBP5, was given a A piece of paper with the company’s Nameand the promissory note to say the Company will pay the bearer GBP5or whatever the Value, then it was up to the individual to find aplace to change them. The best places were the Dockside bars, theyknew the system and charged one shilling in the pound to make thetransaction. There was a risk for the persons cashing them. They wereunable to cash the Notes to the Company until after the ships hadsailed, so any person who failed to sail on the ship, their notebecame null and void. Some bars charged as much as 5 Shillings in the Pound.
    Money in my pockets and new friends,I made my way into Falmouth, Bought some new shoes and singlet’sthings for work and other I thought I would need, went for a coupleof beers, I think back to those days and smile I used to walk intobars order my beer like an old timer, I was till two years under thelegal drinking age.!!!
    I shared a cabin four berth with 4boy ratings, 3 catering g boys and one deck boy. The bunks , 2 tier,I had one of the top bunks, seemed like a good idea at the time,again I learnt this was not a good move, being higher up it givesyour body a bigger pendulum effect when the ship is rolling.
    Secondly, making your bunk is muchmore difficult.
    WE had one writing desk for us toshare, four lockers for our clothes and I set of drawer each a mirrorabove the desk, Bunk curtains which allowed you make yourself private if you wished. A bunk light for late night reading and a small shelffor books, cigarettes or whatever. Two portholes set into boxes whichmade an extra storage place, this where I tied my PYE Cambridgeradio.
    Our suit cases were stored in alocker in our alleyway, so as not to clutter up the cabin.
    We had to take turns cleaning ourroom for inspections, we also had to clean our small shower andtoilet block daily.
    I think at that stage we had sevendays in port before we were due to sail, Falmouth Town is only 40minutes’ walk to the center from the ship, so we would walk to town, buy some beer have fish and chips, until the money ran out !!!!!!
    Time went quick then came the day ofour sailing, dockside gangway put ashore, we then used our on shipsGangway. Later in the afternoon, all Visitors on board were asked to leave, then finally the 2nd mate with some apprentices, went aroundto check lf all the crew were on board, and we had No stowaways’.
    With all that done and the Pilot onboard we sailed, just on Tea time, so that was a late meal. Not wellplanned at all as I wanted to watch us sail out with three tugs, pastthe Black Rock and Pendenis castle, dropping the pilot and headingfor the lizard, the on down to the Bay of Biscay.
    I remember a stiff wind blowing, butthis did not affect the ships movements so I was OK.
    Passed Cape StVincent then Gibraltar, now we had bronzy weather, us catering staffhad two hours break between One and three O’clock, shorts on andmake yourself look like a ******. Then way to Malta and finally PortSaid then Suez Canal, I learnt that the Suez Canal and Port Said hada distinctive smell, an Eastern smell.
    we sailed in the midnight convoy,which meant we did not stop in Port Said but went straight into themidnight convoy, which put us in The Great Bitter lake in the morningto anchor, while here we had a visit from the quarantine station atIsmailia, I had my first vaccinations and cholera Injection, receivedmy International Medical Book where all vaccinations and inoculationsare recorded. we stayed at anchor all day, until the North boundConvoy passed, after which it was a short sail down to the end of thecanal at Port Tewfik, then into the Red sea. I had a very sore armfrom my cholera Inoculation, and my other arm was itching intenselyfrom the Small Pox vaccination.
    On our way to the Persian Gulf.
    The weather was really warm and noair conditioning; we lifted our Mattresses out on deck and sleptunder the Stars, quite nice but get damp early mornings.
    It was at this stage I wastransferred to the Galley, the boy that was in the galley collapsedwith the heat exhaustion. At this stage we were taking’ Dextrosecoated salt tablets’ 6 during the morning and 6more during theafternoon these were to combat Heat exhaustion.
    Soon as we got into the Persian Gulfwe sweated from morning to night, If you started to get cramp in yourleg muscles was the sign you need to increase your Salt tablets.
    Entering the Galley all your clotheswere wet within 30 minute and you stayed soaked in sweet till theevening, still to hot to sleep in the cabins, after 4 days of this weall had heat rash, small red pimples under your arm pits and back oflegs arms, very irritating, but not much you could do to stop it! Youonly got relief once you left the gulf and you stopped sweating,
    Every night we just stepped out ofour work clothes in the showers, rinsed them out and hung them up todray ready for the next day.
    We finally arrived In Kuwait. July1962. A very large Royal Naval fleet there including the Ark Royaland military force in place, we had the British Army in the Desertincase Iraq would invade, we tied up in Mina-Al-Ahmadi, temperatureswere averaging 112/ 115 F, even locals were dying from heatexhaustion.
    We were going to load a full cargoof Kuwait Crude oil for the BP refinery in Kwinana, Australia. Itwould take us 2 days too load, so we had a chance to visit theseaman’s club, One movie nightly but air conditioned cinema and wecould buy chilled cola and other drinks. They had a small shop and ahair cutting saloon, But built offshore you could not get into town.
    We sailed full cargo which only gaveus about 1.5 meter Free Board. Distance from the sea to the deck.Cleared the Gulf sailing put through the straits of Hormuz, into theIndian Ocean, it was the end of the monsoon season, we sailed southinto a long rolling swell, some days the sea was like a mirror, wecould see sharks on the Surface, and sometimes whales, One day we hada spectacular show from big Manta Rays, jumping out of the water thenslamming down again, we were close enough to heart Slap as they itthe water, I was later told they do this to free the sea lice fromtheir bodies.



    Passed on down the Indian coastuntil we passed the Minicoy light house, then a south East course toAustralia. We knew we were getting close as I was starting to pick upAustralian radio stations on my radio. Nice to get music again.
    WE arrived at Freemantle, where wepicked up the pilot for Freemantle, Kwinana refinery was built up inthe lagoon, nice quiet place in those days, white sandy Beach dunes,and very clear blue water, tugs came from Freemantle to take usalongside, also stayed with us till we sailed. It was a flat landlying place with a few Gum tree standing up I got my SUB inAustralian Pounds. I was given the afternoon off so went to explore .Kwinana was a village, one pub a few houses, and a crossroads with abust stop.
    Went to the Pub had a beer then gottimes for the busses to Freemantle, stopped a bus and went intoFreemantle, The Port of Freemantle was one of the oldest on theCoast and was undergoing modernization in 1961.
    Went into a bar with ‘bat wingDoors’ just like the movies, some rough guys inside all dressed inshorts and vest with big floppy hats, I asked for a glass of beer,The Barman asked d me how old I was, I lied to him, taking that 18was a good age for drinking when he heard my accent he said a CornishBoy !! you off the ships then ? I replied I was down in Kwinana, sono problems with that, Later in the afternoon more men were cominginto the bar, Women don’t / Didn’t go into bars In Australia(it’s a Mans Thing) a couple of men came in and the Barman toldthem I was from Cornwall, they were both newly immigrants from Truro,So I was able to relate to persons I knew of in Truro, Which led tomore talking and drinking, then I remembered I had to catch my Busback, Got on the Bus OK and fell asleep the driver woke me up inKwinana, I got off and went to the Pub, “British Patrol” if Iremember correctly, had some more beer before stumbling back to the ship, Aussie beer is strong, I had been drinking Swan draft lagerand it was catching up on me. Managed to get back to my cabin,climbed into my top bunk and fell asleep, managing to spew up in thenight, so woke in the morning with my head stuck to the pillow, witha mixture of meat and vegetables, just like a stew, except this smeltvery sour.
    What a mess, I had to go and get ashower and change into my work gear, start work, then back to thecabin to check on the damage, My three cabin mate came back at“smoko” and said it’s your mess you clean it up. First I had toclear my bunk, mattress outside for washing, pillow also, scrapingthe goo of it.
    Then I had to wash the bulk heads,as I spewed against the wall (which is called a bulk head) and it hadrun down to the bunk below me
    The whole cabin smelt of sick, Sohad to have all the portholes and doors open, Got some disinfectantfrom the chief Steward, and wash the whole place out
    I placed my mattress and pillow inthe engine room to speed up the drying out. Was eventually able tocrawl into my damp bed by 10 pm and fell asleep knackered, lessonlearned, for that trip yes.
    After two days we were back at seaand the room smelt ok again, funny thing is my cabin mates , thoughthey did not help, did not complain either.
    Wow nice to get away, our orders for our next trip: were to return to Mina-al-Ahamadi and load againfor Kwinana. At least we know where we are going.
    Left Kwinana, once we cleared thecoast, we hit a storm, ship was in ballast so rolling quite bad. Bylunch time she was all over the place and the Captain started to takein seawater ballast to steady the ship. I was starting to feel a bitsick and dizzy. One thing I remember is the lunch that day was applecrumble, my favorite for the sweet, There was Half a tray left , So Imanaged to eat it all. Back into the galley to face the mountain ofdirty pots, Trays and the Benches to clean, I just managed to get itall done when I started to be seasick.
    I would not wish seasickness onanybody, it is an awful feeling, I had to get back in the evening towash up the Dinner pots and pans, I had no energy, no will to work.2nd cook helped me, I just lay on the deck head out of therails and just spewed and retched I had nothing left in my stomach tospew.
    Chief Steward came down to see me, alittle bit of sympathy, but not a lot, was just told the only adviceway to conquer seasickness is to work it off, Lying down does nothelp. For the next two days I was in a complete daze don’t remembervery much, Just words from the cook, get into the galley and do your“strap UP” which was the word used for washing all the Galleyutensils, I was able to spend a little more time in the Galley beforewanting to spew, my stomach was sore as I only had water to be sickon, I could not face any food, or a cup of soup.
    I don’t think I went to my Bunkfor two nights, just slept on the deck.
    Then , one morning I woke up felthungry, had some boiled eggs , started to walk around and did somework, HORRAY I had found my sea legs and the ships was still rolling.Also started to eat, had a nice hot shower and felt a better man(boy) I never felt sea sick after that.
    I smile, as later I gave the sameadvice to a lot of young lads who were sea sick on their first trips.
    So rolled all the way back to thePersian Gulf.
    Going back to Mina –Al-Ahamadi,was not so exciting, But still nice to get to the seaman’s club fora movie and some cold coke, I also purchased some new ‘Fruit of theloom’ American pants. Again two days to load, good ! lets get outof this place, hot and desert Sand. While alongside we experienced aShamal wind. This is a wind that blows across the desert sands, whenyou feel it you notice that your breathing is affected, you cannotbreath normally, the air is Hot and dusty, so you need to cover yourmouth and nose, Your way of breathing is by gasping for breath.
    So good to leave Kuwait, lets get toSea and get some clean air. We sailed once we passed the straits ofHormuz we went straight into the remains of the Monsoons, Rainswashed the decks down and we all felt fresh again, the ship had afull cargo of Crude oil, but sea was still tossed around like a cork.No problems I am now standing on new my sea legs.
    No Sharks , Whales, Manta Rays thistrip, sea is to rough.
    I am trying to remember how manydays it took us, I think it was 11 days.
    Arrived off Fremantle to take on ourpilot pick up the two Tugs , then up to Kwinana, nothing had changes,apart from the weather, as there was nothing new to see, I did nottake a sub, so stayed on board. Not wanting to have an occurrence ofmy previous trip.
    Nothing happened during our visit,so cargo unloaded and sailed back to the Gulf (No Orders) which meantwe could go anywhere. Half way back across the Indian Ocean we hadorders to load a full cargo of Crude in Bandar Mashur in Iran, wellthat was new for me, so excitement building; for discharge all we hadwas LEFO, which meant we steamed back to the Suez canal and headedtowards the Mediterranean. Again we could go anywhere Europe or withBunkers to the Sates.
    Iran in those days was still underthe rule of the SHAH.
    Banda Mashur is a Jetty built on asmall lump of land , with road joining the mainland to the terminal.Went alongside, with two old BP Tugs, Same funnel Markings as ourships, the had English Captain and English Chief Engineer. Not aplace where I would like to be based, six months living on a smallTug in the end of the Persian Gulf, They relied on visiting BPTankers to transfer food to them, (Frozen Products, Butter, Cheeseetc)
    Once tied up I walked to theseaman’s club, had taken a GBP5 sub which came in Iran Riyalls, theclub was a large building bigger than Mina, but no cinema, just loadsof books for exchange, Magazines and Confectionary which was alllocal produced, But very Inferior for our taste. BUT they did sellbeer, ‘Shams Onion Beer’ which was chilled and our guys werehappy with that, only catch was three bottles per person, This meantthat us young guys very quickly became friend with the older seamanand firemen, who bought our allocation for them to drink.
    Also there was old antique Swords/Daggers, copper plates and pictures, for a 16.5 year old not veryinteresting. They were not cheap , but in later years I notice theSame items were becoming Very Expensive.
    Fully loaded we sailed, again downto Straits of Hormuz then turn right along the Coast to Aden, hell’sGates, then North up the RED SEA., two and a half days to TewfikPilot station and anchorage.
    A lot of ships at anchor waiting fortheir allotted Convoy, In those days Tankers had priority in theConvoys, so we were told the next day’s Convoy. Some of the oldGreek Tramps could expect to stay at anchor for a week to 10 days.
    WE sailed morning time steamingslowly up past the Port into the Canal, slowly entering the greatBitter Lakes, passing the south bound Convoy lying at anchor, notstopping we slowly steamed North into the Canal again, To pass theother south Bound Convoy tied up to the side of the canal in the Cut.
    Once clear of that it was another 4hours slow steaming to reach Port Said, Drop the pilots and we werefree into the Med, The temperature was dramatically cooler, we couldonce again sleep with Blankets in our Bunks, a strong wind wasblowing east ward so we were bucking choppy sea, until we wereabreast of Malta, During this part of our voyage we received ordersto Proceed to Milford Haven in wales, to discharge at the new BPRefinery there.
    The trip through the Med was verynice, passing all the land marks that I was soon going to know verywell, Passed Gibraltar the rounded cape St Vincent, into the AtlanticRollers, just a steady pitch in the ships movements, The bay ofBiscay was also kind to us the up the channel into the Irish Sea andthen to South Wales. Arrived off Milford Haven early morning tugsalongside and berthed at Popton Fort, at midday.
    New crew waiting for us, they hadjust come down from Swansea on a Coach, now the Coach would wait totake us back to Swansea Station.
    Bags packed, signed off the shipsArticles, collected my wages and my Rail Warrant, goodbye BritishIndustry, time to go home Just completed 3months on my first deep seatrip, no longer to be called a (first tripper) got my feet under the table.
    Coach to Swansea, then by rail toManchester, via Haverford West and Crewe. Good old days of BritishRail. I arrived in Manchester Piccadilly around breakfast time.Phoned Home and Mum got my Dad to pick me up in his new Hillman Minx.But had to wait a couple of hours till he reached the station.
    Going from Cornwall to Manchester abig difference, but soon a place I was going to like.
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: SS. British Industry

    And yet another great Story here Spencer,
    This definately waht we need more of on here!
    Possibly this may entice others to follow suit and tell more of their time at Sea .
    I am sure there must be a lot who could add their past experiences,especially those that i have seen with many Years at Sea .
    So Come on Lads lets have your stories as well.

    Again Thank You Spencer much appreciated.
    Cheers
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