How did you boys do it?

cryan
12th December 2008, 23:00
Whilst engaged in some tricky manouvers the other day with a pilot who seem to belive that the Dog Class tug we were driving could be manouvered like a Voith water tractor, the bridge chit chat turned to the way the old timers did the job with single screw stamers etc, although we knew that they tended to use more tugs per move than we do theese days, we couldn't figure out how the pilot spoke to the tugs pre wireless as we rely heavily on vhf radio theese days, we assumed flags or lights, maybe loud hailers but surely these would be useless in a wind? so the question is, just how was it done before vhf /wireless?

joebuckham
12th December 2008, 23:16
Whilst engaged in some tricky manouvers the other day with a pilot who seem to belive that the Dog Class tug we were driving could be manouvered like a Voith water tractor, the bridge chit chat turned to the way the old timers did the job with single screw stamers etc, although we knew that they tended to use more tugs per move than we do theese days, we couldn't figure out how the pilot spoke to the tugs pre wireless as we rely heavily on vhf radio theese days, we assumed flags or lights, maybe loud hailers but surely these would be useless in a wind? so the question is, just how was it done before vhf /wireless?


hi cryan
whistles, pea (god bless the old acme thunderer) and ships own (Thumb)

best regards

cryan
12th December 2008, 23:19
Ah see, clever stuff, thought it might be a simple one!

ddraigmor
13th December 2008, 01:02
Ah, news for you then!

The first VHF set on the Mesrey was apparently installed on the 'J H Lamey' in 1948!

Jonty

Mike S
13th December 2008, 07:48
Ah the old Acme Thunderer.......what a legend in its own lunch box!

Tugs were a lot lower powered in those days too and the pilots knew that they could only do so much on the end of a towline so they signalled you on the whistle or the Acme and away you went.

My first relieving job was on the coal fired Wyola in the late '60's in Fremantle. She was 57 years old when she was replaced! 11 tons bollard pull flat out on Newcastle coal and she was down to about 8 tons when we put her to bed for the last time.

Lot more towline work in those days too and in fact a good handling tug on a short line can do wonders in the right hands. My favourite was the Weela in Fremantle, steered on a couple of spokes, 21 tons BP all day and never even raise a sweat. Last I heard of her she was 34 years old in Eden in NSW. Must have been scrapped by now, she was built in 1968.

Any one remember the Plagent and the Plagal in the Royals towing on a short bridle? They could almost thread the eye of a needle those boys.

.............tell it to the kids today and the will never believe you. (Smoke)

sidsal
13th December 2008, 11:37
In about 1949 I was 2nd Mate on an Esso T2 tanker bound from Aruba to Stanlow on the Manchester ship Canal. It was usual then to call at Avonmouth first and discharge about 4000 tons and then go up to Stanlow.
We arrived off Avonmouth in thick fog but the pilot found us and came aboard. In chatting with the captain he said the tugs were now equipped with the new nylon ropes which were 100% better than the old manilla etc etc.
I was sent to my station on the poop and told to look out for the tug which in due course emerged from the thick fog. We sent a heaving line down and pulled up this pristine rope and put the eye over a bollard. The tug then churned away and the rope tightened and snapped. The tug , in the meantime had disappeared into the gloom and we never saw it again. We hauled about three fathoms of the remains on board.
I could feel the engines going dead slow and then suddenly they were going full astern followed by a crunch and sudden stop.
The entrance to the lock in Avonmouth had a curving wooden quay leading up to the lock gates and we had crunched our way through about 20 feet of pitch pine and hit the stone wall behind it. We had found the lock at least and so we entered and locked in. The oil berth involved a sharp turn to port on leaving the lock but in the meantime the fog had become even more dense.
When we turned I was on the poop still and the engines were going back and to, slow and full. Suddenly I saw the dockside through the fog with some coasters discharging and we were closing them quite quickly. I rang the bridge and told them and the engines went full ahead. With yards to go, two coasters broke loose, dockers leapt ashore, gangways fell. The engines then stopped and went full astern - they had sighted the other side of the dock.
Anyway, the result was that all the ships in the dock had broken loose and were milling about in the fog.
We got to the berth eventually.
On the BBC news that night it mentioned that an Esso tanker had struck the dock wall at Avonmouth and that divers were going down to examine the damage. My poor parents thought that the tanker I was on had sunk and the divers were going down to it !

cryan
13th December 2008, 13:46
My tug was built in 1966 an ex RMAS Dog class,, Deerhound, we usually work with a Forth pilot who are more used to Voiths and as such often ask us to do some silly things. One other question I have is something that has risen its head since the loss of Flying Phantom and that is the use of GOB Eyes or Gogging Eyes depending which way you say it. We tow with a swinging Clyde Towing Hook just aft of the accommodation but as yet don't use a gob attached to the after stags I have my doubts about a Clyde hook releasing with a fwd load on it and working with warships with instant power we do fear girting at all times, a gob would keep the line running aft of the hook and move the pivot point aft and low but apparently no one ever used them on Dogs and there is the old , "well we always done it his way" attitude at the moment but the Phantoms report mentions their use several times. any thoughts on positives and negatives of their use?

Pilot mac
13th December 2008, 14:59
I can distinctly remember Liverpool pilots using 'referees' whistles as late as 1969/70, how did we manage prior to VHF? Can anyone remember docking telegraphs?

regards
Dave

James_C
13th December 2008, 15:09
Dave,
You can still see them in use on the Waverley and Balmoral!

Dave Edge
13th December 2008, 22:54
Getting really primitive, some bridge amidships tankers had a rotatable pole either side aft having a flat plate on the top, one side red, the other white. This was turned to show all clear aft or not clear aft but in my only experience of them they were painted solid so it was permanently all clear or not clear.

Mike S
14th December 2008, 01:34
The use of the Gob rope is essential if the tug is likely or required to be towed from astern or act as a braking tug.
I have to be honest I am surprised that any towline or conventional tug would operate without having one at the ready!
We used to have a lighter 3" circ line bent on to the stretcher just inboard of the thimble. Our towing rig was a poly stretcher onto a 45 fath wire in the early days. The light line was used to haul the thimble back inboard and down to the centre "stags" as you call them and then the gob rope would be bent on.
In the mid '70's we changed over to all synthetic line and as it floated it was much easier to grab it and haul it inboard and bend on the gob rope. If ever the tug is being used as a brake it is essential that the gob rope is used to transfer the towing point aft. Under normal towing it is not used so that the tug can pivot under the line.
I have no idea what a "Clyde hook" is like however we used to have the Adsteam spinning disc type of hook which in 30 years I never saw fail to let go at any angle. It had remote "pulls" either side that would let the hook trigger go at the tug of a light line. Excellent bit of kit and all Aussie tugs have had them or a similar copy for going on 50 years.
Even the Z pellers were still provided with them in case we had to tow from aft leading a ship out of the harbour on its own gear.
Of course with the advent of modern tractor and z drive tugs these old practices are fading away.
Is it possible to access the report into the loss of the Flying Phantom?

Steve Woodward
14th December 2008, 01:39
Mike,
The Flying Phantom report is HERE (http://www.maib.dft.gov.uk/publications/investigation_reports/2008/flying_phantom.cfm) on the MAIB website
There is a lot of thought into the incident going right round the country to come up with a new safe working practice
Steve

cryan
14th December 2008, 12:28
We only ever tow off the hook if through the bull ring, if working as aft tug we tend to work over the bow, We use fixed length Dyneema tows off the hook and the same over the bow except over the bow we bend it onto the bits on the stem. The Problem we have is that working predominantly with warships, the mix of instant gas turbine power and RN bullishness is a recipe for disaster! we have several times had the pilot on the vhf saying they will let us go and in the back round you can here the skipper giving orders of half ahead which in these things is like 12 knots instantly. The risk of them passing us and girting us before release is real and there have been close ones in the past. if after tug you go for a sleighride but not a real danger. Usualy the bos'n lifts the tow off the hook before they pas it back so they can take it with them if need be (which has happened a few times) but the Phantom had the gob eye attached via a small wnch but they only used it if running astern the report questions if it would have made a diference to use it when the bow tug as well. a force of only 17 tonnes was enough to tip her when the vessel was abeam- scary stuff.

Mike S
14th December 2008, 13:26
Being over taken by a testosterone fuelled warship driver is the stuff of nightmares! Only had one try that and we simply knocked down the hook with the tug running at over 10 knots and the frigate taking off like a startled gazelle.
"Why have you let go Weela? You were not instructed to let go and I required you to tow ahead out of the entrance!"
"This tug did 11.5 knots flat out on her trials Capt. not the 15 + that you are overtaking me at." was the testy reply.
"We had a man standing by with an axe" came back!
"Capt. you use the axe on my towline and you will get a bill for $20000!. Good morning and have a pleasant voyage!" was the reply.
The Port of Fremantle then ripped into him for exceeding the 8 knot limit in the harbour.
Priceless.
I will have a read of the report tonight and have a think on it. I was Master of tugs all the way from the old steam single screw marvels from the Second World War through to a 3600 bhp 51 tonne bollard pull Z peller.
Had lots of fun too.........and relieved on the 4800 bhp Wambiri at times in the harbour.
Anything that can make things safer even if it is just a suggestion from where ever has got to be good.
Kind regards

cryan
14th December 2008, 13:56
Mike,
Sounds like every day here in Rosyth except we use perhaps more profanities if not over the radio, out the wheelhouse door. One of the problems we have is your average matelow won't let the rope go without a direct order in writing from the admiralty no matter how many names the bos'n calls him. Every warship we deal with is the same except HMS Gloucester he was a real gent and new how to use old twin screw tugs, on the other hand last year Somerset nearly sank us three or four times in a week, then try to blame us when he hit the quayside at about 6 knots. fun and games though!

senior pilot
14th December 2008, 14:07
i hope you keep testing that tow release in the wheelhouse , i had to turn it a few times in my days on the cairn. alex

cryan
14th December 2008, 14:10
I think I have the most lubricated and air tight hook on earth test both manual and air every week , clean it and lub with light oil and coppaslip, grease points all get a couple of shots and I spin it a good few times before resetting it. not that I get nervous or anything!

STRAWBERRY
14th December 2008, 19:33
For CRYAN. Hi there. We have a similar problem with the RN, when they are here in Portland. A push pull to a warship speeding astern at a rate of knots is a common thing. I don't know why the masters of the RN ships do it. The only real answer, is because they are showing off! There is nothing worse than an RN master showing off. What I tend to do, is call the pilot and specifically ask not to come astern too quickly. That VHF Communication, although intended for the Pilot, will be heared by the master. As a secondary precaution, I have a crewman standing by at all times, and I always have the wheel hard over, just in case they do speed astern, I can screw in at full speed and avoid being wrapped around their two Anchors. If they want to race away, we should bodily lift off the berth, and then let Go. Then, they can do what the hell they please. You said you use dyneema over the bow, is there much stretch in it? Of course, Dog tugs have only a maximum of about 9 tonnes bp over the bow, and that's a straight horizontal pull, any angle at all, will reduce the tonnage. We never use a Gog rope, partly because my crew are not used to using one, and secondly, it reduces the maneoverbility. They are fine if you are on a straight tow, for long distances, but for harbour work, not a good idea, unless you are in a stern tow to the bow, and the vessel is going astern to the berth. No you are quite right, Dogs are not Voith, but by god, they are great little tugs! Be safe! Andy

Andy Lavies
14th December 2008, 20:37
I've still got my metal Acme Thunderer - and it works much better than modern plastic ones!
Andy

cryan
14th December 2008, 22:07
Strawberry,
Dyneema's are extremely strong some say too strong, (stonger than wires but lighter than Polyprop or Nylon) our main tow's are, I think, 1.75"-2" , lightweight and they float so very easy to handle, the other thing with dyneema's is there is no stretch so if they do part there is little if any recoil so a lot safer to work around, their only real fault is when new they self lubricate and if bent round the bits they can run under load so we usually slip the free end eye over another set of bits to back it up. Deerhound has 12 tons over the bow and 17 off the hook. if working type 23's etc push pull under the bow flare we hang a wicker fender off the monkey island to give us some protection. the general feeling here is the same as per the use of gob eye's etc but as I say the phantom report mentions their use. I agree that the main problem with RN ships is attitude as any foreign vessels with the same power etc are never a problem.

Mike S
15th December 2008, 02:29
I have just had a decent read of the report on the Flying Phantom. I have to say that was the saddest and most sobering read I have had for a long time and my deepest sympathy goes out to those poor fellows and their families.
Many thoughts are running through my mind however I note with interest that the report is of the opinion that she was never aground. That must mean that she was girted of course and the open door looks like being a very major factor.
I hated towing off the aft tow winch even with a release on a z peller however it is worthy of note that I know of no towline or conventional tug here in Australia that has a full towing winch aft. We have retrieving winches placed over the hook on the next deck or on the bulkhead and the rope is fleted out and then run to the tow. On retrieving the line stays on the hook until it is let go from the ship.
Then the hook is tripped and the winch reels in the small gantlin lifting the rope off the hook and the full length is then brought aboard. I first used this in the North West at Cape Lambert where we were using inexperienced crews off the ore pile and we had to keep it simple. This meant that all aft towing was done from the hook. The Adsteam disc type hooks are fail-safe and I have never known one not trip in a millisecond.
We also have girting posts fitted so the the towline when out on the beam cannot get more than 85 deg and there is a turning moment generated trying to bring the tugs stern around. We never towed with lines of that breaking strain over the stern either.......tugs bollard pull + 10% was about it and we were very wary of the eye on the bits of the ship too. I stand corrected on the gob system however in that towage mode ahead of the ship it would not be in use either.
The layout of the wheelhouse of the Flying Phantom looked poor to me. She also had a lot of weight high up in that fire monitor system and the view aft from the wheelhouse looked pretty poor. I wonder if her original manning was more than 4 men?
Navigation in thick fog must be a nightmare and I have only had to do it once. We were alongside lashed up at the time and the pilot liased with me all the time and asked for distances from my radar. As I was alongside the vessel I had time to check it.
This leads me to a final thought. Would it not be better to have had the tugs on the port and stbd shoulders in the push pull mode? A tug coming astern on the shoulder can be very affective certainly in conjunction with another pushing on the opposite shoulder and could have corrected the swing of the vessel.
Another thought too.
When the HMAS Westralia caught fire and was towed from the Cage Roads off Fremantle back down the Stirling / Parmelia channels dead ship I was on the aft tug, a z peller called Wyong (3600 bhp). Wambiri (4800 bhp) was towing forward off her salvage winch and I spent a lot of time coming astern and slowing the ship down. This gave the Wambiri something to work against and also increased the turning moment by bringing the pivot point of the vessel right aft. A number of times towing dead ships there has been a marked improvement in the handling if the aft tug keeps weight on and slowing the whole thing down a little.
In closing please don't think I am trying to be precious or telling you guys how to suck eggs. That is last thing in my mind but I pray that those lads have not lost their lives in vain. We must try and learn from each other and although I am on the opposite side of the world believe it or not Svitzer now own the tugs in Fremantle!
Small world lads...small world.

Kind regards

Mike S
15th December 2008, 07:28
Further to the above diatribe!
I read also that the line parted where it passed through the bow shackle attached to the Gob wire. This is very significant in my view. When towing ahead like she was the gob wire should be slack enough to allow the towline to come right out onto the beam in my view.
Now I realise that this is going to be a controversial remark but bear with me. If the towline had been able to come right out on the beam with a judicious use of the aquamaster nozzle to haul her head back in the line of progress the line would have come slack. The gob wire in my view is either fully on or fully slack and in that configuration should be under attendance at all times. Should it come under load when the line is say at 50 deg it will take the tug out of control and result in the accident that has happened. I have on one of two occasions oiled my tonsils and vocabulary when the retrieving line has been too tight.
Lets face it head lines are nightmare at times. However we used to swing the OCL Bay boats into no 12 Inner Harbour Fremantle and the old Weela and I used to connect up and go and play to our hearts content.
It was clear mind you although there were occasions when the manure was trumps in high winds and heavy rain. However the retrieving line was slack and the gob rope did not get used until the swing was over and we are dropping her back into the berth.
Enough from me......
Be safe
Regards

cryan
15th December 2008, 22:34
Yip, it is certainly a sobering thought, The Clyde is very narrow at that point and push pull might not have been viable, As I read it the report places most blame on the Port authority for allowing commercial pressure and not giving an escape for I think 12-15 miles of river so no berth to abort to and no way to turn, Winches can be good but as they tow on the brake band you really need to be paying out line for the emergency realease to work quickly. I as chief always keep my doors shut as there is no benefit to me to have them open ,ie, ventilation heat etc but many poor things can happen if left open, as I remember from my days anchor handling in africa where the Stevns Power went down... Our Ops Manager who is an ex pilot and shipping master for the Dockyard has told us not to tow in fog if were not happy and to not worry about consequence of refusing jobs if not happy, which is a good back up to have. I think hooks and winches both have pluses and negatives, but as I said our main wory is RN skippers falling on the sticks because a Dog class cant manouver quickly. The fact that they thought they were aground but wern't means they must have been in zero vis and not known the Ship had passed them, most sobering for me was the timline, less than a minute!

Mike S
16th December 2008, 00:43
You are fortunate to have a decent ops manager and that is a very valid point about the fog. It seems to me that the situation was dangerous from the start if the river is so narrow that they cannot lash up.
Poor devils..............they did not have a chance. Once you lose sight of the tow it is way too dangerous. Maybe they will have to shift the berth down river or put up with the demurrage. I wonder how those who put the pressure on feel about their part in it all.
Be safe.......and as I said I pray that people learn from this one.
Regards

cryan
16th December 2008, 19:07
I don't suppose they would have batted an eylid,, were all just numbers on a spreadsheet to them.

Cobbydale
24th January 2009, 15:59
Whilst engaged in some tricky manouvers the other day with a pilot who seem to belive that the Dog Class tug we were driving could be manouvered like a Voith water tractor, the bridge chit chat turned to the way the old timers did the job with single screw stamers etc, although we knew that they tended to use more tugs per move than we do theese days, we couldn't figure out how the pilot spoke to the tugs pre wireless as we rely heavily on vhf radio theese days, we assumed flags or lights, maybe loud hailers but surely these would be useless in a wind? so the question is, just how was it done before vhf /wireless?

In Liverpool the pilot used the ships whistle for the stern tug and a refs pea whistle for the head tug, unless the bridge was right aft then they might reverse it. The signals were pull to the North or west, south or east ,pull ahead,stop pulling, hang on where you are ( when the road bridges were closed ahead) and of course six blasts ..let go. Liverpool docks run north and south whilst Birkenhead docks run east and west. Other ports all used whistle signals.
cheers

senior pilot
30th November 2011, 00:17
my father used a metropolitan two tone whistle one tone for bow tugs and the other tone for stern tugs i still have it today, then they got a portable vhf radio in the early 60's and that made it a lot easier

Hugh Ferguson
30th November 2011, 12:40
Fascinating thread this: for the first time ever I now know that the bousing down of a towline-on the stern tug-is known as a "gob".

I continued using my ACME Thunderer after the advent of VHF as it enabled you to signal the tugs from the bridge wing thus avoiding having to go into the wheelhouse to get to the VHF. After berthing at the Havens one often took the opportunity, to land at Gravesend, by taking passage in a tug thus getting to meet up with some of that much respected fraternity, but I have no recollection of us ever discussing technicalities-the job was done and that was that!

RayJordandpo
5th December 2011, 01:59
I remember UTC harbour tugs converting to VHF from the old ships whistle for communications. One incident made me laugh, A skipper was talking over the VHF to his relief who was taking over the next day. He was explaining where various items were, he finished by whispering over the air "the cabin key is under the mat"

Honnestden
7th December 2011, 20:05
(Pint)I remember UTC harbour tugs converting to VHF from the old ships whistle for communications. One incident made me laugh, A skipper was talking over the VHF to his relief who was taking over the next day. He was explaining where various items were, he finished by whispering over the air "the cabin key is under the mat"

(Jester)(Pint)
Hi yer Ray how you doing are you home or still about ,will you and your kid be home for the 16 December that is our reunion at Greenbricks it should be a good night Mr Woods my make an apperance but will have to be careful the mrs will be there it is 5 with a buffet and raffle hope to see you then cheers honestden

wavedweller
12th December 2011, 16:06
Hi Sidsal
obviously 'arry didn't keep 'er orf the proverbial knuckle!!
Coulda bin nasty that, could've demolished the Miles and the George
Colin

woodend
12th December 2011, 16:49
Great thread, enjoyed reading them all. Brought back many memories of the 'jaws of death' into the Old Dock in Cape Town in a strong NW'er or SE'er. 500 foot of ship with a rather large twin screw tug under the bow, the DANIE HUGO was mine. You really let the Pilot have it on the whistle if he touched your fenders on the Knuckle and they were coming in fast!

keithsparks
13th December 2011, 12:46
Bought a great UTC calendar last week off a person whose name shall remain anon ,you cheeky sod, but dont they have October anymore,I want 40p back

RayJordandpo
13th December 2011, 17:16
(Pint)

(Jester)(Pint)
Hi yer Ray how you doing are you home or still about ,will you and your kid be home for the 16 December that is our reunion at Greenbricks it should be a good night Mr Woods my make an apperance but will have to be careful the mrs will be there it is 5 with a buffet and raffle hope to see you then cheers honestden

Hi Dennis,
I'm home till early January. I hope I can make it on Friday night but I think we have a family meal out already booked. When is the next afternoon meet?

RayJordandpo
13th December 2011, 17:22
Bought a great UTC calendar last week off a person whose name shall remain anon ,you cheeky sod, but dont they have October anymore,I want 40p back

Hi Keith,
You just had me running to check mine, luckily it's all there. Maybe he is on to something here, just miss out the month you don't like. I wish January was missing on mine, I'd just stay in bed for a month (Jester)

Honnestden
19th December 2011, 21:12
(Pint)(Pint)Hi Dennis,
I'm home till early January. I hope I can make it on Friday night but I think we have a family meal out already booked. When is the next afternoon meet?

(Pint)(Night)
Hi Ray missed a bloody good night the one at Greenbricks is the 4 january 13 hrs to when ever last your kid come he was going to B Q for a screwdriver never did get know if he got one asked him if he wanted a phillips or stright head he did not know anyway hope to see you on the 4 Jan (HAPPY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR )

Honnestden
27th December 2011, 20:10
Hi everyone hope you all had a good Christmas and you all enyoyed the reunionon the 16 December 2011 , So i am wishing you all A HAPPY NEW YEAR and will see you on the 4 january 2012 13 ohrs until you when ever all the very best for 2012

Honnestden
4th January 2012, 20:44
(Scribe)(Pint)Hi everyone hope you all had a good Christmas and you all enyoyed the reunionon the 16 December 2011 , So i am wishing you all A HAPPY NEW YEAR and will see you on the 4 january 2012 13 ohrs until you when ever all the very best for 2012

(Pint)Hi yer lads how you all feeling hope all ok nice to see ray& pete jordan today had a good laugh cannot wait for the warm weather to come and we will be able to sit outside greenbricks see you all on the 18 january 1300 to when every see you then

Honnestden
25th January 2012, 15:09
(Pint)(Scribe)(Pint)

(Pint)Hi yer lads how you all feeling hope all ok nice to see ray& pete jordan today had a good laugh cannot wait for the warm weather to come and we will be able to sit outside greenbricks see you all on the 18 january 1300 to when every see you then

(Pint)(Applause)

Hi lads sorry was not there at last meet but hopefully every thing o k now so i will be seeing you all at the Greenbricks on the 1 st Febuary for a session see you all there don"t forget