Ben boat with the busted bow!

Philthechill
13th September 2007, 16:16
Sorry for interloping chaps (I'm from Brock's!!!) but I've long been curious about which Ben boat got clobbered, by the monster wave off Capetown, and subsequently suffered a huge amount of damage to the foredeck. Does anyone have any photo's of said ship? Ta, in anticipation. Phil Roe ex-Brocklebank Engineer.(Thumb)

Steve Woodward
13th September 2007, 16:21
Look up Bencruachan

roymuir
14th September 2007, 00:18
Phil, if you look in my gallery you will find a few pictures of "Bencruachan" bent.

Regards, Roy.

Philthechill
14th September 2007, 06:48
Roy, Steve, Many thanks for the info. I've checked the available info out and, seeing the photo's, cannot understand why she never sank when she was so far down by the head!! Incredible! Thanks again, Phil

ian keyl
14th September 2007, 12:11
Roy, Steve, Many thanks for the info. I've checked the available info out and, seeing the photo's, cannot understand why she never sank when she was so far down by the head!! Incredible! Thanks again, Phil

Yes Phil it came as shock to a lot of people at the time she stayed afloat.
I was ashore at the time working in the ben HQ in Edinburgh and my pal Bob Hay was mate on her when it happened,he was on nhis way home to get married after a fairly eventful voyage, they started off with outward bound with a terrible storm on the western approaches and had to turn back to Falmouth after the bad weather had caused deck cargo of Anti knock compound to leak and the chief off and 1st mated were badly spashed with this Terta ethel lead which can make you sterile if it enters the blood stream besided knackering your kidneys and liver. The ship saied into refuge with her hull sides stained a bright orange the local tv were there stating what had happened out at sea claiming injured seamen.

A few other things happened that voyage out east but homeward bound after being into Durban for bunkers ,she came out and the set course for cape pulling well into the Agullus current which will give you another 3/4 knots if you can keep within about 10 miles off the coast.

Bob was doing the weather abstract log for sparks to send back to Bracknell and had just been out on the wing to dip the sea water bucket ,had a look around and came back into the wheel house he checked the radar and there were a few fiching boats around but clear.

He was writing up the log when bang he was thrown to the rear bulkhead of the chartroom alarms strated sounding and the ship was shuddering.
he looked in the radar and just saw a shadow like a rain scwal going away from the ship, he ran out onto the wing with the aldis lamp and shone it on the foredeck, If i recall he said there were some contrs of mandarin oranges missing and a derrick was over the wall and the 25 ton crange was slewd round and the jib free from its crutch. The stbd bulwark was missing and bent over. I think they had some contrs of the usual plastic crap below deck so they may have given her extra bouyancy.

Bob's first thought was that he hit a fishing boat which he had not noticed and was wonering if he would ever get home to get married. They were towed stren first into Durban and they did a great job patching her up so she could endure the riggers of another attempt to get round the Cape and home safely.Quite a feat of seamanship and courage for all bringing her home.

Rgds ian.

DAR
14th September 2007, 13:42
I was there and remember it well. We received the distress call onboard the British Statesman and at the time were hove to in the direst sea conditions. Being only some 80 miles away the Master decided to go to her assistance.
We turned towards her and pressed on. We were being badly battered and making little headway until during the 12-04 we were we knew something was seriously wrong up forward. Coming of the sea, a party headed up there, me included. The fo'c'sle deck was bent upwards, the starboard capstain pulled up off the deck and the starboard anchor and chain run out. Not much we could do in the conditions and darkness and with little water ingress we again continued on our way towards the Bencruachan. Daylight showed our predicament. The starboard anchor and chain had run out and as both port and stbd chains were linked together, all the port went out as well. So the port anchor was in the pipe, it's chain up and around the capstain, under the focsle deck then up and around the stbd capstain and out tohe pipe tinto the water. 21 shackles and the starboard anchor were dragging under us. Good job its was deep water. We did make the Bencruachan that morning but by then our help was not required. We had our own problems now to resolve. But lets just say not many ships will have been anchored 19 miles of Durban bluff in 300 fathoms.

Philthechill
15th September 2007, 07:58
More thanks to Ian and David for posting their comments about Bencruachan. In todays "throwaway" society she would, of course, have been abandoned and then blown-up or met some other ignominious end!!!! Phil

Roddy Munro
20th September 2007, 23:59
There must be someone out there who surfs SN and Ben Line who could give us a true picture [no offence Dar] of what happened to Bencruachan that horrible day off the tail end of Africa.The pictures dont tell the story.Been there on a good day picking up mail ,and the gunwale nearly going under in the swell .
Hope to see more on this incident.
Roddy Munro

ian keyl
21st September 2007, 17:56
Roddy,
as you may remember i was shore side at the time working in the headoffice , when Bob Hay who was on watch at the time had told me that there was just the normal shallow swell a fresh breeze and nothing else .

Bob is one of the Firth of Forth senior pilots if still working. All the time I have Bob whilst at sea and ashore he has been an honest bloke . From info i picked up when the senior officers cmae to edinburgh for lunch to discuss the voyagewith owners and supts there was nothing abnormal going on at the time,Where Dar was may have been a different area in thier case that was where the freak wave had started from .( there has recently been programs on tv where they have discovered most of these waves were caused by undersea landslips.) What ever the case Two typhoons were two to many for me and this must have been a real fright for them all .

I wonder what the crew of the OCL contr ship felt like when they ran 150 m up onto the island at the top of the Malacca Straits at full speed probably a similar experience.
Thank godIt wasnt me .

Rgds Ian.

Derek Dunn
7th November 2007, 22:59
I was eng cadet on the 'Cruachan the voyage before the one where she came to grief. Some years later I meet a lecky I knew who was there. He told me that they were watching a movie in the officers smoke-room that evening when there was a large bump. (the smoke room on that ship was at the aft end of the boat deck). One or two of them were thrown from their seats and landed on the deck. The lecky told me he looked out of the porthole and saw the water passing them. Whether he saw the wave that hit them or the sea, does not detract from the fact that the ship, (service speed 18 knots), was headed towards the sea bed. It was only the combined buoyancy of the huge flare in the bow and the bulbous bow that brought her up. The weight of water on the fo'csle caused her to break her back. I believe that the tip of the bow was 15 feet below the keel level, the reason why she could not be repaired in Durban.

slimjim45
13th October 2008, 20:04
Sorry for interloping chaps (I'm from Brock's!!!) but I've long been curious about which Ben boat got clobbered, by the monster wave off Capetown, and subsequently suffered a huge amount of damage to the foredeck. Does anyone have any photo's of said ship? Ta, in anticipation. Phil Roe ex-Brocklebank Engineer.(Thumb)

the Benboat damaged of Durban was the Bencruachan i was an ab on the cruachan and have the complete set of photos which i can send to you i am not very good on computers so you will have to bear with me

BillH
13th October 2008, 21:37
the Benboat damaged of Durban was the Bencruachan i was an ab on the cruachan and have the complete set of photos which i can send to you i am not very good on computers so you will have to bear with me
BENCRUACHAN.
O.N. 335165. 12,092g. 7,097n. 14,884d. 553’ 0” (BB) x 76’ 9” x 33’ 4” oa
Pametrada design steam turbine, made by Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company Ltd., Wallsend, double reduction geared to propeller shaft. 20,000 SHP. 21˝kts.
16.4.1968: Launched by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd., (Scotstoun Division), Glasgow (Yard No. 511) for the Ben Line Steamers Ltd., (Wm. Thomson & Company, managers), Leith. 12.9.1968: Completed. 3.5.1973: Struck by a very large wave when 74 miles S. E. of Durban resulting in severe hull fracturing. Diverted to S. Africa for temporary repair before proceeding to Rotterdam at slow speed for permanent repairs. On arrival at Rotterdam the true vision of damage became apparent (the forward part of hull was like Concorde’s drooped nose). Repaired by the Rotterdam Drydock Company and returned to service. 12.12.1976: Transferred to China Mutual Steam Navigation Company Ltd., Liverpool, for one round voyage to the Far East within the BenOcean pool. 9.3.1977: Reverted to the Ben Line Steamers Ltd., (Wm. Thomson & Company, managers), Leith, although continued to wear the “Blue funnels” for some while later. 3.5.1980: Arrived at Kaohsiung for demolition by Chin tai Steel Enterprise Company Ltd.

Tartan Warrior
5th April 2013, 14:25
More thanks to Ian and David for posting their comments about Bencruachan. In todays "throwaway" society she would, of course, have been abandoned and then blown-up or met some other ignominious end!!!! Phil


I was on her two years later when she did more or less the same thing again in the Madagascar Straights,the bow was weakened by the previous damage and that was one helluva scary nigh,dejavu

A.D.FROST
5th April 2013, 15:08
This ship one of the BENLEDI class was given a steam turbine because it was just as economical as motor-ship to the Far-East via the Suez.After she was completed the Suez was closed, Whoops!and the rest as they say is history

ernhelenbarrett
7th April 2013, 08:50
I was on the other Bencruachan/GLXR in 1948 when we had snow in the Red Sea and a heavy swell leaving Port Said into the Med where we were bouncing off the bottom and lousy weather in the Med and around midnight were hit by a
freak wave coming from aft that bent steel stanchions, took away our deck cargo of empty aviation drums and as we went down and rolled you could see GREEN water on either side, thought I was a goner as you could see C/Off
Atkinsons face go white in the floodlights, but luckily she surfaced again but we were 3 days late arriving back in Liverpool. That was the same gale that hit the "Flying Enterprise" which went over on her beam ends off Falmouth.
Ern Barrett

Bill.B
28th April 2014, 12:31
I was first trip sparkie on RFA Orangeleaf and was on watch when the SOS came in. We were about 120m away and we're not required to assist as several others were closer. We were further offshore and bound from Ras Tannurah to Cape Town. It was a wild night but even though we were the slowest thing out there Orangeleaf, ex Southern Satellite, was a great sea boat. I seem to remember the distress said she was drawing 56 ft forward and had lost her Nr1 hatch covers. Never heard any more until waiting to enter the locks at Immingham in 74 on RFA Sir Bedivere when Bencruachan was coming out and on her way to Hamburg for dry dock. Have a couple of photos. Funnily we were off to the shipyard as we had smashed our bow doors and side in Esbjerg when the bow thruster failed. The trip across from Esbjerg was worse than the night off Durban as the Sir boats could roll and do nothing else.
There was a story in CP that the CP Voyager came down a wave in the channel and saw sand which she hit and damaged her bulbous bow.
They were extremely lucky to keep her afloat that night. Next day all sorts of supertankers were coming past us with foremasts missing, bent and buckled bows.
Bill B

trotterdotpom
28th April 2014, 12:48
I was in Durban when Bencruachen limped into port. We only knew about it from the papers as there was no telly in SA in those days. I was under the impression that it was her maiden voyage, obviously not from previous posts. They were very lucky.

John T

David M Edes
18th October 2014, 09:35
I should have been on that voyage, but I paid off in London 2 hours before she sailed ( I was still in the published crew list) as I had an adverse reaction to a cholera jab.
It was the skippers last voyage and allegedly he was attempting to break the record for the Far East /London trip and was going flat out in horrendous weather!

woodend
18th October 2014, 10:50
There is an excellent paper by a Professor Mallory on the freak waves off the S.A. coast, their causes etc. Well worth a read!

Chris Isaac
18th October 2014, 17:07
Edinburgh Castle met a similar wave in 1965
Captain Billy Byles' report on the incident is here:
http://www.bandcstaffregister.co.uk/page149.html