Ardshiel, anyone?

Amanita
3rd June 2007, 22:27
Anyone here read that old book by Noel Mostert, "Supership"?
Ever since I got a copy and read it, I have been curious about the tanker he sailed on, P&O's Ardshiel. I'm surprised he never included pictures of it in the book, or pictures in general.

Are there pics of Ardshiel herself floating around anywhere? I suspect that this ship is no longer around- possible victim of the tanker "bloodbath" of 1986, that somebody here mentioned.

Duncan112
4th June 2007, 09:40
http://portal.pohub.com/pls/pogprtl/poghistory.display_document.pdf?p_id=1081

gives Ardshiels history but no photograph - I'll do a bit more digging but am not hopeful - the hardback edition of the book had a photo on the dustjacket but it may have been a generic supertanker.

The Master, Captain Basil Thompson was still spoken about by the P&O men that had sailed with him during my time with P&OCL - he had many foibles!!

Duncan

Amanita
4th June 2007, 14:44
If memory serves, the ship on the cover of the book was actually the Globtik Tokyo..that must have been a HUGE ship!

Steve Hodges
23rd June 2007, 23:09
Anyone here read that old book by Noel Mostert, "Supership"?
Ever since I got a copy and read it, I have been curious about the tanker he sailed on, P&O's Ardshiel. I'm surprised he never included pictures of it in the book, or pictures in general.

Are there pics of Ardshiel herself floating around anywhere? I suspect that this ship is no longer around- possible victim of the tanker "bloodbath" of 1986, that somebody here mentioned.

I have had a copy of "Supership" on my bookshelf for many years, and often re-read it. It's the best description I've seen of life on VLCCs as I knew it in the 70's. I suspect that Noel Mostert may have upset a few people at P.&O. with some of his observations and conclusions, hence the lack of authorised illustrations. In my view he was quite right to paint single-skin, single screw,single boiler VLCCs as potential disasters even if operated to the highest standards. I often wonder if those officers featured in the book feel that Mostert wrote a true and accurate account of his trip - are any of them now SN members?
Steve

Split
24th June 2007, 08:10
If anyone is interested, my copy is a Penguin. Whether they have any left, I don't know.

Split

K urgess
24th June 2007, 10:30
There are 431 copies available on Abebooks ranging in price upwards from 50p Sterling.

Kris

Amanita
26th June 2007, 18:40
If memory serves, Noel Mostert presented quite a positive view of the P&O crew of the Ardshiel, stating that if there was any hope for the future of the tanker industry, and for the oceans, it laid in the hands of professional and highly skilled crews like the one he sailed with. Quite a positive endorsement, at least of that company.

needadditionalinformation
15th July 2007, 07:52
There are several pics of her on this site:
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showgallery.php?mcats=&si=ardshiel&what=allfields&name=&when=0&whenterm=&condition=and

Chouan
16th July 2007, 10:38
A positive endorsement of her officers and crew, not really of the company, I'd have thought.

BlythSpirit
16th July 2007, 11:18
After reading this thread I sent off to Abebooks and it was duly despatched for the princely sum of £4 including postage. I realized when I started reading it, that I had read it 30 years ago! I lived in the same small street in Blyth as the Second Engineer, Peter Dutton, and he was not best pleased about the character depiction of him in the book! Peter always came across to me as a very pleasant gentlemen, not at all like the dour pessimist he was painted out to be.

On a more general note regarding the book, I found it fairly interesting but the constant mixing of life aboard a VLCC and the general views af the author regarding oil spillages disruptive and annoying.

The skipper Thompson certainly appeared to be of the old school of British Mariners, eg complaining of footballers' regional accents, he would have a fit nowadays listening to the United Nations we have in UK football!! ( Or Beckhams high pitched Estuary English in LA.)

Nigel Wing
17th September 2007, 16:53
I still have my copy of Supership, I have read it twice, and found it to be an accurate depiction of life aboard a vlcc at this time. The electrician featured in the book, Dave Haydon, later became the Electrical Superintendant, with P&O Bulk Shipping Division, a good bloke.
Best wishes.
Nigel.

Buoy
24th September 2007, 19:13
I sailed in Ardshiel shortly after the book was written and sailed with most of the people mentioned either before or after. I think the general feeling was that Mostert was reasonably fair with his assessment, although he appeared to get some of his character descriptions very wrong.

Basil Thompson was pretty much as depicted, very much of the old school and everything in its place. He was however an excellent seaman and knew his ship inside out. I sailed with BDH in Irfon which was a large OBO and went to lay-up in Venice Lagoon.

Ardshiel was a lovely ship, along with her three sisters Ardlui, Ardtaraig and Ardvar. I sailed in all four at one time or another, and from a R/O's point of view Ardshiel was in best nick, although Ardvar didn't have a dreaded KH Photoplot, so was better from that point of view!

I have my copy of 'Supership' autographed by BDH, even though he didn't like Mostert or what he had written.

I have posted one or two pics of various 'Big Ards' in my gallery.

Amanita
26th September 2007, 18:03
I wonder what Ardshiel's crew would think if they knew that somewhere, a 20-something young woman was reading that book with its descriptions of life on board, and thinking "Oh cool!"
I wish Mostart had included a photo section in there.

Gwaunboy
27th January 2008, 07:30
Hi, I was a first tripper cadet on the Ardtaraing, just as the book was being written. Funnily enough I thought life was a blast being at sea in those days, although there was a distinct alcohol culture on board. I remember the undetified 3rd mate, being taken from the bridge and put to bed, not because he was drunk, he was paralitic. The old man at the time, a quite pompous englishman named Scudamore, was not best pleased having to complete his eveing 8 to 12. I haven't read the book but I should especially given what we now expect of tanker crews

Ian Dickinson
18th February 2008, 14:24
Hi Everyone,
Sailed on Ardteraig as a first trip Eng Cadet Aug 1972. Bought Supership last week on Ebay for 1p last week, just finished reading it. I seem to remember that we all had a much happier time especially in the wardroom. But you only remember the good times. However I an sure that there was a touch of poetic licence when writing the book which I thought painted a reasonable picture.

willincity
27th February 2008, 10:53
Anyone remember Dave Laverick Master, and Ch/Eng Norman Pattison from the Ardshiel.

I know them both well (more so Norman) and although they are into their 70's they are still busy people in their own way.

simonb
3rd May 2008, 19:07
my first post................
re Supership & "Ardshiel"
The book has been in my Library for about 30 years. I re-read it every four years or so, just did so again, which is why I am here! My (paperback) copy of the book bears the flyleaf note: "Wadih M. Captan Bookstore, Monrovia, Liberia, $2.95". So I must have purchased it there when I was working in Monrovia 1975 - 1980.
I've always enjoyed the book, and the description of the life on "Ardshiel", and especially, the interesting humans who populated it. A big Thank You to Noel Mostert, not only for the description of the voyage, but of the supertanker issues of the day.
Can anyone recommend a good book to bring me up to date on the current situation? I read a lot............
Simon

duffield
9th May 2008, 01:44
Bought a copy of "supership" after reading some of the comments above. I was struck by the difference to life at sea as I knew it in the 50s and 60s.
I sailed as an engineer with a privately owned company whose ships were mainly on charter to Shell. From the day we left the UK we never knew which port we were going to next, nor when we would return to the UK.
We were on watches 24/7 and when in port the work was the hardest, hottest, dirtiest I have ever known (Doxford engines). Yet in spite of this it was the happiest time of my working life. The comradeship that developed among the engineers made up for all the long passages across the Pacific or Atlantic. We visited countries we could never hope to visit in thos days. When things got tough one could always depend on friends.
In spite of their luxurious accomadation, swimming pools, etc I found myself feeling a little sorry for modern day crews with their boring routine trips. Knowing where they were going trip after trip.
Maybe I'm being sentimental about the "good old days" but I would certainly not swop them for todays tanker crews life.

Nigel Wing
11th June 2008, 22:22
willincity.
I remember Norman Pattinson, he was Ch Eng on LNG Challenger, we were at Bahrein awaiting orders for the whole time I spent aboard her, it must have been in 1978, my discharge book indicates 15th Feb - 10 May.
Best wishes.
Nigel

willincity
16th June 2008, 18:31
Nigel,
Norman has been my next door neighbour since 1975 and as mentioned earlier is still doing well after taking retirement when P&O went off shore some 20 years ago and still enjoys a single malt every night, unfortunately his dear wife Lillian (affectionately known as “Evaporator Lil”) passed away after suffering a massive heart attack in 2002.
best regards
Will,

Superlecky
13th January 2009, 19:42
[QUOTE="unfortunately his dear wife Lillian (affectionately known as “Evaporator Lil”) passed away after suffering a massive heart attack in 2002."

I was sorry to read that Lillian has died. I sailed with her twice, a lovely lady with a great sense of fun. I think I was responsible for her inadvertently finding out her nickname in 1973 when I joined the Ardshiel at Shellhaven. I had met the first trip second engineer and at Liverpool Street station I said to him "Look out for a very short lady who will be joining the Ardshiel with us, it's Evaporator Lil.

Later in the voyage he was talking to Lillian and related what I had said, that evening she came up to me, not in the best of moods, and asked why I had called her that as she thought I had given her the name. I explained that I had heard her called that when I had joined the company in 1968, so it was nothing to do with me. I was never sure if she believed me or not.

Sailtie
30th June 2012, 10:48
I was Mate on the Ardvar in 1978 for a very short trip (Rotterdam to Bremen) where we tried COW for the first time on that ship. Disaster, everything fell to bits and we couldn't keep the CO2 right. In fact very few of the pump room guages worked, everything on deck was a bit hit and miss.
Having said that, P&O Bulk Shipping were a very good employer.
Re Noel Mosterts book, I think it gave a rather rosy view of life aboard one of the big Ards but pretty good all around.
The mate of the Ardshiel was a term junior to me at Warsash which gave the book added interest fo me.

BlythSpirit
30th June 2012, 12:42
From Duncan112
gives Ardshiels history but no photograph - I'll do a bit more digging but am not hopeful - the hardback edition of the book had a photo on the dustjacket but it may have been a generic supertanker.

I am looking at the Penguin Paperback copy at the moment and it bears no resemblance to the photos on SN so I presume just a generic shot of a VLCC.

A.D.FROST
30th June 2012, 13:52
From Duncan112


I am looking at the Penguin Paperback copy at the moment and it bears no resemblance to the photos on SN so I presume just a generic shot of a VLCC.

(Read)check out Amanita No.3

eriskay
30th June 2012, 15:09
Coincidentally, in connection with something I have been working on recently, I have just been researching marine casualities off the West side of the Isle of Tiree and one of the better-known was the loss of S.S. ARDANDHU on the Hough Skerries, on 17th September 1891, whilst on a passage from Riga with a cargo of railway sleepers. She was a product of the Clyde shipyard of Henry Murray, Port Glasgow, having been launched from there on 15th December 1887. Fortunately all taken off by local fishing boats so no loss of life. Master found to blame, his ticket suspended for six months and reduced to Mate.

howardws
30th June 2012, 15:13
The mate of the Ardshiel was a term junior to me at Warsash which gave the book added interest fo me.
If that was Alan Ewart-James he became a Master in P&O Ferries and was mayor of Hythe, Kent not long ago.

frangio
30th June 2012, 16:53
I was a Navigation Cadet on her sisiter ship, Ardvar, in 1978. I did enjoy being on her even though things always seemed to be going wrong. Joined in Dubai, 110 in the shade, air con not working! Then coming down the coast of Africa and being adrift for a couple of days while the Engineers carried out repairs to the engine!

But got time in Rotterdam and then we took her to Brest for drydock. My first time in France and started a love affair with that country!

Jon Vincent
10th August 2012, 23:41
Sailtie/Howardws. I remember reading the book, the mate was the afore-memtioned gentleman, I sailed as first trip cadet in Prince Line on the Black Prince with him as senior cadet, a very lazey individual who sat in the cabin all day after dishing out all the jobs to me and the other junior cadet, we were real glade when he was transfered.

woodturner
17th November 2012, 21:28
Was that Charlie Scudamore

OliverD
7th January 2013, 22:09
I have just finished reading the book. I found it at the local Library's annual book sale, and it has been in my "to read" pile for a few months. I suspect the previous owner bought it to study the environmental aspects of transportation; we have a very vocal, "environmentally aware" population locally.
I was amazed at some of the descriptions of life aboard, as it applied to the officer complement. As a guy who has always worked down in the pit, I wish there had been some description of life and equipment in the engineering spaces. That, however, wasn't the author's purpose for the book. He did point out many of the hazards of navigation in such a large vessel, and the many ways Murphy has of tripping us up. He fortold many of the things that are happening today, but I think he would be somewhat reassured at what IMO is accomplishing in the ways of safety, and what the classification societies are doing to make the vessels and crews safer.

Amanita
21st July 2013, 22:33
I'm impressed- years after I started this thread, it's still going:)

I still think Ardshiel is a pretty name for a ship:)
And yes, I'm re-reading Supership at work, it's a good read for night shifts.
For the longest time, I've been doing personification/character artwork, I may have to take a shot at Ardshiel and some of the other supertankers of the period. Mostert was highly critical of the looks of Supertankers and modern ships in general, but he seemed to have (and developed more of one over time) a soft spot for Ardshiel.

mickfos
19th August 2013, 21:57
I'm impressed- years after I started this thread, it's still going:)

I still think Ardshiel is a pretty name for a ship:)
And yes, I'm re-reading Supership at work, it's a good read for night shifts.
For the longest time, I've been doing personification/character artwork, I may have to take a shot at Ardshiel and some of the other supertankers of the period. Mostert was highly critical of the looks of Supertankers and modern ships in general, but he seemed to have (and developed more of one over time) a soft spot for Ardshiel.

Read this thread and it brought back great memories of sailing on Ardvar,Ardlui and the Ardshiel twice, in the 70's.
Sailed with captain Basil Thomson and Chief Engineer Norman Patterson. I was on the Ardshiel just after the book was written.

backsplice
20th August 2013, 07:22
It looks like you lads enjoy a read about supertankers I,ve read that one too and enjoyed it If you like yarns about these days try "Brian Callison" he has a long list of books out which most of you would relate to !!! the first one I read was "A Thunder of Crude" about VLCC ,s

Give them a try lads good reading material

trotterdotpom
20th August 2013, 09:06
I remember reading that book years ago. I forget why but I thought it was a load of crap.

John T

sandhopper
1st October 2013, 13:56
I remember reading that book years ago. I forget why but I thought it was a load of crap.

John T

Tsk, Tsk, each to their own I suppose. I read that book many years ago and was suitably unimpressed with tanker driving. I was also suitably unimpressed with Shell's recruiting film for a career in tanker driving. I somehow (at 15) inadvertently fell into a hotel doorway (think it was raining at the time) only to find myself ushered into a conference room hired by Shell. I watched how they tried to make a trip up the Gulf look exotic and mysterious and even slightly interesting. How in god's (or Allah's) name can the likes of Ras Tanura be remotely interesting? Two decades later and my one experience of Ras Tanura was giving a lift to an Arab at Jubail naval base without realising he was a senior police officer. I arrived in Ras Tanura having broken every speed limit by a wide margin. I left even quicker. Sod tanker driving.

luigi
16th November 2013, 22:32
I remember reading that book years ago. I forget why but I thought it was a load of crap.

John T

I agree. In fact, I habitually replaced the 'p' at the end of the name, with a 't'.

I read the book whilst working on the two Globtik VLCC's and thought it painted a very poor and largely inaccurate picture of our industry, showing typical journalistic licence in many respects.

Steve Davis
23rd April 2014, 13:13
Hello all,
Excellent to hear that "Supership" still commands an avid readership. I was the cadet referred to as a "pale slender youth of delicate features and expression" that Mostert wrote about. I never did understand what he meant !!

Basil was a great seaman and Master and whilst on bridge watch I had to ensure that there was at least one pencil the wrong way round so that I could receive the necessary rebuke after which all would be peace and harmony. His insistence on high standards was excellent training and a pity those standards were not general adopted. When I was 2/O on Basil's retirement voyage he gave me his massive file of distance tables titled "Basil's way of getting there".

Just bought a copy of "Trident Tankers" from Amazon. Many photos there including later ones from BSD. Good to see lots of familiar names in the thread, and good luck to everyone.

PeterWebb
6th June 2014, 09:11
There were several 'Ard' class VLCC's, dating from the '60s, in Trident Tankers, all taken over by P&O bulk Shipping at the start of the '70s.
Ardschield, Ardvar, Ardlui, Ardtaraig. Beautiful Ships.