British Diplomat bulbous bow addition

28th May 2007, 09:18
When I joined British Diplomat as mate, first trip mate at that!! I ballasted her down as per advice from the mate I relieved and off we went on a short hop across the Med. The weather piped up a bit and she started slamming up forward so I went up to have a look. The bow wave would drop away and then wham back in at the join of the bulbous bow to the flat of the original bow. I put a spot more ballast in and the noise ceased.

The bulb was one of those "cigar tube" additions so favoured during the 60's when bulbous bows became all the fashion .... Esso did a lot of conversions but I think the "Diplomat" was the only one in BP. I'll stand to be corrected on that.

I searched for any info on "How to use the Bulb" but ... nothing, not a scrap which to my way of thinking was weird....They went to all that expense, someone must have done some calculations, trials must have been run or whatever but ... not a thing for the ships staff to follow.

Any BP Tanker Mate ex "British Diplomat" who sailed on her at the time of modification on the site to add anything to this state of affairs??

Oh yes ... another thing .... plenty of pics of her without the bulb but none with ...!!!


28th May 2007, 10:11
OK Alasdair ... I'm going to do your post for you ....

Many thanks for posting this picture of the British Diplomat, a great shot. I'm slightly puzzled as to why she's in "Ships of the '50s" when she was delivered in 1963 but no matter. This could well be one of the last pictures taken of her while in service with BP as, on the 13th November that year, she arrived at Kaohsiung for demolition by Sing Chen Yung Iron & Steel Corp. The Diplomat was one of a number of crude carriers delivered to the company in 1963 and was both the only one built in France and the smallest at 49,320 D.W.T. The remainder ranged between 52 & 55,000 D.W.T. except the British Mariner, 74,635 D.W.T. She was built by Ateliers et Chantiers de Dunkerque et Bordeaux in their Dunkirk yard and delivered to BP in June ’63. Her call sign was GLJA. 747’11” LOA with a summer draught of 39’4¾”.. She was powered by two steam turbines double reduction geared to a single shaft. These were built by At. et Ch. de Bretagne, Nantes and developed 17,800 shp, giving the vessel an operating speed of 16 knots. Tank configuration was 11 centre and 18 wing with 2 pump rooms housing 3 main cargo pumps and the separate stripping system. Maximum discharge rate 4.800 tw/hr. She had Victor Pyrate tank Cleaning equipment.
As you rightly say, the standard of fit out was legendary; even a company where crew accommodation was to a very high specification on new builds. As and apprentice I went aboard her in the Isle of Grain to see for myself and the French yard had done an impressive job, including the fabled glass staircase. My oppo who gave me the Cook’s tour told me that the stewards hated these stairs as they showed every mark and needed constant cleaning. As he told me, with some feeling, thank God they put them inside or it would have been a job for the apprentices!
As a footnote, the Diplomat bore a striking resemblance to the Amboise, 49,366 D.W.T, built in the same yard for BP’s French tanker subsidiary, Societe Maritime des Petroles BP in 1961. The prevalent theory in BP Tankers was that the Diplomat had originally been ordered for the French company but had been diverted to the UK operation when her fitting out was too far advanced to change the specification, hence the glass staircase. I never learned if this was really true.


See I can read your mind !!!(==D)

Now for a few additions to "The Apprentices notes"

Maybe you did not see all her beauty .... the Bridge interior deck was not of your aktual traditional teak but must have been covered by a few thousand little blue mosaic tiles.

Then there were the wine tanks ..... think I have mentioned them somewhere else.....

The Owners stateroom,(Flowers) in which I stayed for my last night aboard having been relieved by the new mate was furnished in Louis IVth style ... wow, it must have been THE best owners room in the fleet....if you like that style of thing ... I was knackered (Night) having spent the previous week doing a chemical tank clean while slow steaming from Venice to Marseilles for drydock. Including the fore peak and the after peak, which were in a hell of a rusty state. Got complimented on the state of the tank clean by the super. He had booked her for 4 days on the tank cleaning berth. Oh we wont need that I said ... theres only the slop tank to wash ashore..... "I think we had better go and look at the tanks!!!" he said ominously. Down 1 centre we went and as he scrabbled around he asked " Are they all like this?" in a somewhat dazed state ...... yes why? "Theres no digging or sludge to be done, Ive not seen a crude vessel come in like this before!!"

I had the previous Mate to thank as, before leaving he had given me a couple of hours excellent briefing on his tank cleaning methods .... I never forgot them ... ever and many is the time I have given him thanks for such good advice. (Pint)

We took a load of Refinery Residue across to Kurnel on the Kotuku after I came to NZ. We had to tank clean and back load clean products. I was Second Mate on her but the mate was another OW mate of mine and I briefed him on what we should do ...... he told the shoreside we wanted maximum 36 hrs. You are joking the shoreside bloke said... the Aussie tanker takes 4 days and he's smaller than you!!. Dick said oh well we cant speak for them but we only need a max of 36 hrs.

So, we started and 32 hrs later, me being on deck I called for the tank inspector who literally galloped up the gangway eager to clobber these "Kiwi" clever ... "you know whats". Up to my favourite 1 centre and he waved his mirror full of bright Aussie sunlight around ... the familiar "Are they all like this" he asked???" Yup, do you like the Eau de Nil green paint down there, nice 'innit?" said I .... Ohhhh how we love to suprise the Aussies....


D Sutton
29th May 2007, 20:02
My Father was CE for delivery and from june 28th 1963 until 10th July 1964, I have some pics of Diplomat being launched.
My mother also sailed on her and said that she was the most luxurious she had been on, whereas father said it was typical of the french to worry about what it looked like than what it could do.

Steve Hodges
29th May 2007, 20:21
Me memory is getting a bit dim, but I seem to remember visiting the "Dip" briefly at Kharg or Mina to have a look down below - I was first trip E/C and still keen, then.The engine room seemed enormous, and had a tiny little turbine set in the middle( compared to Pametrada, anyway)- were they Alfa Laval? Anyone got details?

29th May 2007, 20:33
Many thanks for the additional info on the luxury of the Diplomat, I never saw the bridge or the top peoples accommodation, we steered clear of places where we might have bumped into senior officers during my tour, you know what apprentices are like! I'm intrigued by your special tank cleaning method, how did it work? The best clean I ever saw was on the Aviator when we back loaded 12,000 tons of spent caustic from Cobh for dumping in the Atlantic. The tanks it had been in positively gleamed afterwards.

29th May 2007, 23:10
Another great medium for tank cleaning on the sly was to load Condensate!
Tanks came up a treat!

30th May 2007, 08:19
D Sutton ....Any chance of scanning those photos please and posting them here or e-mailing them to me?? be very gratefull if you would(A)


D Sutton
30th May 2007, 17:57
Barnsey, I shall post them over the next couple of days in the gallery.

31st May 2007, 04:06
(A) I see them ... I see them ...(A) Terrific .....

So what else have you got stored away for us??? There just have to be lots......dont hold back...

David (Thumb)

david freeman
2nd October 2007, 12:27
In 1966/67 I sailed as an engineer on the Diplomat. She had her problems in the ER one was emergency power supply generator, and another was the main engine Gear Box GE of America design steam Turbine set. The vessel has to run at 85%? ( It may have been slightly more) more or less full power as at designed maximum power, for which we did trails the gear box was subject to tooth design faults.
A lovely vessel great design concepts in the ER and the accommoddation was first class.
Dave Freeman

3rd October 2007, 09:37
When I joined her towards the end of 1970 she had big problems with the astern gear. Going into Port de Bouc you enter through the breakwaters, swing hard to port and go full astern to berth stern first. The Pilot was carefully told by the Master that they had 2 minutes of maybe 20% astern power and that was all available as there were problems with the astern turbine. Ok Capitane ... no problem ... full ahead !! The Old man **** himself!! In we went, hard a port .... full astern ..... FULL ASTERN CAPITANE ... engine stops ... Capitane FULL ASTERN LET GO BOTH ANCHORS !!!! I was on the focstle and had a marvellous view of the entrance to the yacht harbour by the time we stopped>>>>!!!

Fun and games....

But no one has told me about the fitting of the bulbous bow......