Capetown Castle

Andy
24th March 2004, 21:30
Capetown Castle

mick Wright
5th October 2005, 01:17
I did 2 trips on the Capetown Castle as a waiter,2 sittings of 12 Tourist Class,scrubbing the decks before breakfast and appear immaculate 30 minutes later.
Once passengers were dropped at Capetown we picked up the locals,called Yarpies by the stewards,never tipped,who used the vessel as a coastal ferry.
I passed my driving test in Capetown,had one lesson and half hour test,this achieved only an international licence which only lasted a year.
I remember the haevily armed guards as gold bullion was loaded UK bound.
I also remember boarding a blacks only bus in error much to the delight of the passengers,but the police at the time would have taken a dim view of it.
Is the Lighthouse night club still open?

Mick Wright Wave Dancer,

Ray Woodward
8th October 2005, 16:00
Thanks Andy & Mick I have been looking for a picture of the Capetown Castle. I was on her from July 59 to Feb 60. I usually went to the station fop ticioc, or to Delmonicos, alway had a great time on that run. Ray Woodward

GavH
6th December 2006, 12:01
My grandfather (R.A. Newsom) was the Medical Officer on the Capetown Castle for a few years and was commended on his actions (amongst others) when fire broke out in the engine room. The date, I believe was 17 october 1960.
Does anyone know of any further details - or even on board at the time? It would be great to get a fuller picture of the events.
Many thanks

dom
6th December 2006, 12:10
two things i remember about the capetown castle was the gold theft and a crew/passenger jumped over the side the rescue boat got him ok but i belive a seaman from the boats crew who was in the water helping him in the boat was taken by a shark,anyone remember??

GavH
6th December 2006, 12:20
two things i remember about the capetown castle was the gold theft and a crew/passenger jumped over the side the rescue boat got him ok but i belive a seaman from the boats crew who was in the water helping him in the boat was taken by a shark,anyone remember??

Reading this instantly rang a bell or two - I can remember my grandfather saying something about gold being stolen - but I don't remember any more of the details (and he may have omitted the shark attack - as a six year old, I would've remembered that bit!). I will ask my mother if she was told any more of the event.

When was this? Late 1950s/early 1960s?

dom
6th December 2006, 12:24
not to sure of the dates,sometime after 64 when i was in Kiwi

GavH
6th December 2006, 12:32
not to sure of the dates,sometime after 64 when i was in Kiwi
Taken from http://www.merchantnavyofficers.com/unioncastle3.html

"In February of 1965 100,000 of gold ingots were stolen from the ship's strong room by two crew members who had cemented them over in an adjacent hold, both spent ten years in prison for the crime."

But no mention of anyone being shark-bait

baileysan
6th December 2006, 15:08
Capetown Castle

If I remember correctly there was a huge explosion in the ER which, I believe ,caused a number of engine room staff deaths. The cause was reported as being a flash back from the main engine air starting system back into the main air receivers. This accident resulted in mandatory fitting of non-return valves on engine cylinders to prevent blow back.

GavH
6th December 2006, 15:35
Capetown Castle

If I remember correctly there was a huge explosion in the ER which, I believe ,caused a number of engine room staff deaths. The cause was reported as being a flash back from the main engine air starting system back into the main air receivers. This accident resulted in mandatory fitting of non-return valves on engine cylinders to prevent blow back.

Many thanks for that - it certainly talleys-up with what I had recorded. My grandfather received his MBE shortly afterwards - I believe for a combination of his actions during the fire (he was badly burnt while staying with dying members of crew) and his detailed account and recommendations at the subsequent inquiry (Some of his proposals included the positioning of first-aid kits at regular intervals throughout the ship).

Many thanks again.

DURANGO
10th December 2006, 14:34
two things i remember about the capetown castle was the gold theft and a crew/passenger jumped over the side the rescue boat got him ok but i belive a seaman from the boats crew who was in the water helping him in the boat was taken by a shark,anyone remember??
I was in the Rothesay Castle as first trip e.d.h. when the explosion occured in Las Palmas , if memory serves she the Capetown was homeward bound with a cargo of fruit we had to lay alongside her for ten days to supply her with power for her generators so that she did not lose her cargo , with regards to the shark attack i beleive that happened on the Stirling Castle i have a mate who was in the Stirling the trip after it happened others may have a better recollection of the incident but as far as i know [ and i could very well stand correcting ] the Stirling Castle picked up a d.b.s. in Capetown and on the way home he jumped over the side ,a boat was put down to pick him up but from what i have been told a young seaman went in the water to get him in the boat and he was attacked by a shark , the ships doctor could not save him and i also heard that a seaman went in the water to help the stricken man into the boat as far as i know the d.b.s. was not himself injured . I beleive that the young seaman who was lost was an only son

dom
11th December 2006, 11:53
could be the Stirling Castle,that long ago now,knew the chap who jumped was'nt hurt shame about the one that died

bowatersteamship
16th January 2007, 19:02
The Capetown Castle's bulion room could not take the weight of the gold carried in the mid 1960s so the excess was put in the registered mail room. The mail room doors were welded shur so no body could check on the gold until discharge in Southampton. The bullion room was checked once a day by the Master, Chief Engineer or Officer and the Purser - it took three keys to get in. At Southampton the bullion was discharged without checking the serial numbers on the boxes so when they ended up 10 short thpse involved were in trouble as they had to unload the railway wagons to check the numbers. It was apparently common knowledge that there was a big ventilation trunk running through the mail room so it was possible to cut a hole in the trunking somewhere and then cut another in the mail room. It was thought the crime was committed by a new crew member or two and the police had the radio tell the story the gold was unsellable because of the volume involved. One of those involved did not make the next trip and turned himself in. The gold was found cemented in a sand locker on deck (she had wooden decks which were holy stoned), the police had sifted the sand more than once in Southampton without knoticing the 'new' cement under it. The gold was loaded in Durban and was found in Durban. I was Junior 4th Officier on the Transvaal Castle, the ship ahead of the Captetown on the schedule, and the docks were like a prison as the gates were shut down, vehicles were stripped before they could leave, every bag was searched and contiband was lying on the ground as everyone was frightened to touch it. The contriband (bottles and cigarettes) found on the Capetown filled cargo nets every day as the ship was stripped and searched.
Regards
Tom Kearsey

bowatersteamship
16th January 2007, 19:06
The Capetown Castle's bulion room could not take the weight of the gold carried in the mid 1960s so the excess was put in the registered mail room. The mail room doors were welded shut so no body could check on the gold until discharge in Southampton. The bullion room was checked once a day by the Master, Chief Engineer or Officer and the Purser - it took three keys to get in. At Southampton the bullion was discharged without checking the serial numbers on the boxes so when they ended up 10 short those involved were in trouble as they now had to unload the railway wagons to check the numbers of the missing boxes. It was apparently common knowledge that there was a big ventilation trunk running through the mail room so it was possible to cut a hole in the trunking somewhere and then cut another in the mail room. It was thought the crime was committed by a new crew member or two and the police had the radio tell the story the gold was unsellable because of the volume involved. One of those involved did not make the next trip and turned himself in. The gold was found cemented in a sand locker on deck (she had wooden decks which were holy stoned), the police had sifted the sand more than once in Southampton without knowticing the 'new' cement under it. The gold was loaded in Durban and was found in Durban. I was Junior 4th Officier on the Transvaal Castle, the ship ahead of the Captetown on the schedule, and the docks were like a prison as the gates were shut down, vehicles were stripped before they could leave, every bag was searched and contiband was lying on the ground as everyone was frightened to touch it. The contriband (bottles and cigarettes) found on the Capetown filled cargo nets every day as the ship was stripped and searched.
Regards
Tom Kearsey

samdar
22nd April 2007, 21:47
I was on the "Capetown" when the Bullion was stolen,and agree with Tom Kearsey in that was the way I heard it was done.The ship was searched from the funnel down,and every false bulkhead removed,and any "Rabbits" found were not claimed.I remember.When all were signed off,we had to assemble on the 1st Class Bureau Square to have our baggage searched .I got off the ship somewhere between 12 and 1 o'clock.On the following Monday,came a visit from two C.I.D.officers from london to ask questions. samdar

KenLin39
8th May 2007, 19:27
Reading this instantly rang a bell or two - I can remember my grandfather saying something about gold being stolen - but I don't remember any more of the details (and he may have omitted the shark attack - as a six year old, I would've remembered that bit!). I will ask my mother if she was told any more of the event.

When was this? Late 1950s/early 1960s?

Shark attack was to do with the Stirling Castle Sept /Oct 1962. I was on the next trip.

nobby s
20th July 2007, 19:09
Spot on mate it was about Sept '62 'cause I'm afraid I was there. We had picked up a DBS in Capetown. He turned out to be an alchoholic and after having his tap stopped at the "Pig" decided to go over the wall. Instead of doing it at night when it would have gone unnoticed ,he chose about 15.00hrs when everyone except those on afternoon teas would be on deck. A boat was lowered and they tried to bring him in but every time the got near him he would swim away. They should have hit him over the head with the boathook and dragged him in but the quartermaster in charge of the lifeboat ordered a man into the water to go after him.Even then he kept swimming away and it was then from on deck we could see two 14ft Tiger sharks swimming towards the would be rescuer. Immediately a deckhand with a knife dived into the water towards the 2 sharks one of them injuring him slightly. The would be rescuer lost a leg right up to the hip and later died on the ships operating table. The DBS was unhurt but had to spend the rest of the voyage either in the brig or the isolation hospital ( and that is the only bit I dont remember) for fear of his life!The brave deckhand as you may have guessed was South African hence not being afraid to have a go at the sharks. However after losing his best mate he took to drinking very heavily and the gold medal he was awarded by Union Castle for his bravery was behind the bar at "The Criterion" in Southampton as sureity for his bar bill. This was later retrieved by his English girlfriend. Thats all I know up till then. If anyone knows what happened to him after this I'm sure we would all be glad to know.

LondonRoger
17th February 2008, 20:26
Capetown Castle fire
For a detailed and technical account of the incident, take a look at:
http://members.shaw.ca/GascoyneR/CTCRestart.htm

(**Moderator**: I trust it is OK to put the above link in . . . no misdemeanour intended. Actually it was the above site that led me to discovering SN)

non descript
17th February 2008, 20:28
Capetown Castle fire
For a detailed and technical account of the incident, take a look at:
http://members.shaw.ca/GascoyneR/CTCRestart.htm

(**Moderator**: I trust it is OK to put the above link in . . . no misdemeanour intended. Actually it was the above site that led me to discovering SN)

Roger,
On the contrary, we are most grateful for your input - thank you (Thumb)