Problems with heavy lifts.

ian keyl
14th February 2008, 00:55
On the Benwyvis on the ill fated maiden voyage we had three of the latests chieftan tanks for discharge in Hong kong. They were going to do trails in the new territories.

It was planned to discharge them in the morning onto REME pontoons but the Gurkkas and REME turned up with three motorised pontoons comanded by a army captain at 2030 hours when most of the crew had gone ashore.
The night crew who were on board said we didnot have enough crew to rig the jumbo so it would have to wait till morning. The old man and his crew were up the road with the HK benline staff, the chief tally clerk managed to get the agent and told the old man who OK'd to be dicharged that night.

All the steam guys were ready in place and just needed securring ,the three ginger beers who were on board were put on standby for ballasting and shoreside riggers watched the mooring lines ,we had tension springs ,so we adjusted them to cope.

The army shoreside shacled the tanks on and would not let the shoreside gangs to do anything but drive the winches ,the deck night crew supervised the winchmen and the guys and a leckie stood bye incase any fuses blew.

As the first tank was coming up out of the No 4 centre hatch it was bouncing as it was a new lifting wire and was setling down on the drums the army captianwas shouting to his men on the pontoon over the starboard side to be ready ,when he shouted "stop ". Everything stopped and this captain was shouting to his men in the Gurkkha language and we were still trying to fathom out what was wrong.
Next minute a sledge hammer came up ove the wall from the pontoon and two gurkkas jumped armed with this hammer from the centre hatch coambing onto the front of this chieftain tank.

It was there for all to see, one of these speceal shackles had wound loose and the pin was nearly out.

The Gurkkas hammered hell into this pin and managed to get it back in and screwed it up with a podger. As the first tank went over the wall we heeled over a bit and there was grinding noises from the port side guys and winch, we kept all our fingers and legs crossed till it was on the deck of the pontoon . .
All the army guys on the pontoon were standing close to the edge near the army launch. These pontoons had huge outboard motors which i think were controlled from below deck, the army captain had to shout to some of his deck crew to get back below and not stand by the launch.

I must admit at 58 tons it would do some damage without firing a shell in anger .
Once the third tank was over the wall it was in the mess room for a cuppa and our breakfast ,and then discussing what would have happened if it had dropped thru the tank top. How long would we have had in HK for repairs and how many nights up the road.
In those days on the money we got we would have had to be subbing out of the next voyage.
Brave men they were.


David Wilcockson
16th February 2008, 21:28
What is the story behind the heading `ill fated maiden voyage`? I was drydocked in Kobe in 1967 & met some of the officers/engineers from her when she was on her second voyage, (I think)in the Motomachi bar area. After a good few gargles I was lucky enough to be invited back onboard her, what a vessel, compared to the old tramp I was on it was heaven & hell. Seem to recall something about `limping` into Kobe? doing 18kn on the maiden voyage but the why`s & wherefores totally escape me now. (The ship I was on would be lucky to do 11kn downhill with following sea & wind.

ian keyl
23rd February 2008, 01:40
HI Dave,
Well the wyvis did start off its maiden voyage with a near stranding off Cape Wrath en-route from Greenock to Hamburg north about due to being light ship and loosing fuel pump genie in a big roll,walling in rough seas and gales we eventually got going having drifted back towards the coast .just before we sailed from greenock when testing the jumbo the mast house collapsed and had to be repaired and stiffened in Hamburg as well as many sections of sani pipe in the car deck.
When approaching Malta to undergo loaded spped trials for the British reseacrh assoc; we pushed a piston out thru the top and spent three days in Malta doing repairs. When in Suez great lakes waiting for north bound convoy we had engine problem but did not delay other wise we could have been stuck there we were in the last south bound convoy before the war started. Coming into Kobe early 67 we blew a turbo charger ,coming off Ocean terminal astern our engineroom telegraph malfunctioned and the c/enr had us going full astern on three rings heading straight for a maersky on bouy 32a ,all her junks loading her cut loose and did a runner when we sounded the whistle and they saw us coming like a bat out of hell. Then down in Port Swettenham we were to load palm oil but our mild steel tanks were contaminated with red lead in the steel which could not be cleaned (we had a tradgedy when three tank cleaners died due mixing various products trying to get the tanks clean and having virtually no vetilation.

I think it was abit ill fated but what a trip ,great crew and many happy hours with maiden voyage parties and once all the problems were ironed out she was a great ship and went like sh** off a shovel. I hope that explains it a wee bit for you Dave.


23rd February 2008, 08:19
Ian mentioned carrying tanks. When I was on the Rhexenor, 1954/1956, we were on a Victorian Government Charter. In addition to carrying large steam locomotives and their tenders on deck for the Victorian Railways, we carried Centurian tanks loaded on top of steel in one of the lower holds, probably No.2. On one occasion the soldier/tank driver refused to climb down the ladders to the lower hold. Eventually the rather frightened driver was lowered into the hold on a pallet, clinging on for dear life. A driver was required in order to manoeuvre the tanks from the wings into the square of the lower hold, to lift out.

ian keyl
23rd February 2008, 09:50
Yes Bruce the same thing applied for us we had the three tanks across the after end of no4 centre hatch but we had them on the tank tops . An army driver was sent down to drive them into the hatch square, this was after they had jacked them up to take out suspension supports . We were of course not the the companies heavy lift specialist ,that was left to the lads on the Benarty which had a 180 ton Stulken derrick,we would carry the run of the mill lifts along with all the other vessels in the fleet from large dump trucks from Aveling Barford Grantham ,Gas turbines from Lincoln ,Castings from Sheffield and Rotterdam, Structural pressure vessels from Balfour Beatty,Transformers from Brush and South Wales transformers and finaly GEC in Manchester.