How bad did it get?

Steve Hodges
23rd April 2008, 16:36
Reading recent postings brought back old memories, and prompted me to ask this question of engineers serving with BP after 1978.
My last trip was on a Border boat in 1977, sailing as 3/E with a chief's steam ticket. At one port we took on vast quantities of piping, flanges and insulation. I was told that we were going to renew the entire deck steam and condensate lines - it had been down for the ship's last drydock, but "someone" had decided that it would be done by the ship's engineers in normal service.
A start was made by the daywork 2/E and the Indian P.O. fitters, and we watchkeeping engineers were told that we were expected to turn to and work field days on the job as well. There was a lot of ill-feeling about this,and I refused to do it. I said I would work whatever hours were necessary in an emergency or a breakdown, but was not prepared to work unpaid overtime on what should have been a shipyard job. Perhaps it was bloody-mindedness, but I felt quite strongly about the principle and even wrote to the MNAOA about it. I don't recall any offical censure.
Perhaps I was in a different position to the others on board, as I had decided that I would soon be leaving the company and the sea - the fleet was shrinking rapidly at the time, and I was aware that many senior ranks were quite worried about their future careers, and thus more amenable to pressure from above.
I would be interested to know if this was just an isolated incident, or if more and more such work was piled on the sea-going staff as the fleet shrank. Just how bad did it get?

24th April 2008, 14:22
I sailed with an Old Man, company and name shall have a discrete veil drawn over it to protect the guilty, who thought it unreasonable that the Second and Third Mates should have nothing to do on watch during the day, so used to leave them items of varying sizes that needed to be chipped, scaled painted etc during their fore and afternoon watches.