Bank and Savill Line

Alistair Macnab
17th January 2009, 17:55
Here's a thread for all you young fellows who sailed on the Bank & Savill service between the U.S. Gulf, Caribbean and Central America and Australia and New Zealand from 1978 onwards. Savill's had been operating in competition to Bank Line before that but the combined program really got going with the "Mayfiled" and "Lindfield" of SS&A and a couple of Bank boats retro-fitted to carry insulated containers northbound from A-NZ. The culmination of the effort was the delivery of the insulated reefer ships: "Willowbank", "Dunedin" and a ship from SCONZ whose name I forget but I know it was so long that it took up most of the transom! (Just kidding! it was the "New Zealand Caribbean")

The outcome of the new service was inevitable. With a preponderance of loaded 40' containers southbound and an excess of loaded insulated 20s northbound, the service occupied most of the container slots in repositioning empty boxes and anyway, the loaded container traffic, both ways did not generate sufficient revenue to sustain the service for long.

What might be worth discussing was the service from SSA or SCONZ eyes or from engineers and/or electricians on the Bank boats who suddenly found themselves responsible for insulated 20s and the hold-fitted trunkways that attached to the "portholes" on the boxes. Lastly can anybody let me know why insulated 20s of 8ft. height were chosen as the teu base for Bank and Savill? By the time the line got going the world-wide move was certainly going towards integral containers (those with reefer machinery aboard and only requiring an electrical power source) of 8' 6" or even 9' 6" height.

Your comments should be based on "struggling with change" and your views, no matter how seemingly uninformed, of what doomed the service. I think it will be useful to collect data of this sort as it might reflect the decline of British merchant shipping albeit in microcosm in respect of Bank & Savill.

I hope this is not too "wonky" but any comments will hopefully reflect "cause and effect" as seen from the operational and technical sides rather than the political and financial points of view which are inevitably recorded by history.

Come in, chaps! Let me have it!
Alistair.

Alan Rawlinson
17th January 2009, 22:27
Hallo Alistair,

Your new thread sounds a bit academic ( Contrast & compare etc) but nevertheless interesting re the reefer types.

Just prior to the timespan you mention, I was a terminal manager in OCL, handling Australian trade ships for OCL, ANL, and ACT at Tilbury. The 'porthole' system was well established, relatively trouble free, and comparatively cheap. We used the more troublesome integral units where the door to door route demanded them only. Longer inland journeys demanded integral units that could hold the desired temperature - especially ' hard frozen ' at -25c. for long periods. So my answer is:

Porthole units were chosen due to:-

(a) Cost considerations
(b) Far easier maintainance
(c) Could also have been easier to obtain quantities of the older porthole units because as you rightly say, they were being phased out by the major users, and presumably were '' on offer '' The fact that the units on the bankline ships were the older 8ft high units also supports this theory.

The 39 berth terminal had one of the first 5 high reefer stacks with porthole connections, and I recall some spectacular accidents due to human error. It was not too unusual for a container of personal effects or even motor cars stowed in porthole type units by inland depots ( presumably because of availability problems) to be to stowed in the reefer stack in error, and to be given the -25c treatment, before being rescued!

There was also fun and games with the inbound tinned fruit, and zoo meat, but that's another story.


Cheers//Alan

Supergoods
17th January 2009, 23:37
As I recall, there were also clip on porthole refrigeration units used for over the road service.

I'm not sure if they existed at Tilbury, but they certainly did in Australia.

Ian

Alistair Macnab
18th January 2009, 01:59
Alan...
Thank you for your comments. I don't want to scare away any would-be responders with the thought that the questions are "academic" Let's have anecdotes like your story of deep frozen personal effects and so on!

The lesser cost of insulated boxes is well understood except in the United States where they were virtually unknown except in the Philadelphia area.
Distribution based on Gulf ports entailed considerable road (and sometimes rail) miles and we were faced with shoveling ice into the containers and hoping for the best. We had no "holding towers" on dock.

When I started out with this thread I was worried that it sounded a bit dry and wonk-ish (in the American sense of something only interesting to a fanatic!) Your alert is timely and appropriate for this adjunct professor! Let's hear what the men on the ship have to say, if anything!

Kind regards,
Alistair.

Alan Rawlinson
18th January 2009, 09:45
Thanks Alistair,

I hear your plea for younger contributors on this thread, but couldn't resist
adding a few more ' nuggets ' !

Re the comment by Ian - yes, of course the clip on units were invaluable and widely used, especially in UK ports. They were very high maintainance in my day, with an electrical engineer always having to be on fulltime standbye. The reliability was mediocre.

I recall having a full export container standing on the quay at Felixstowe with a clip on unit attached. It had a ridiculous number of frozen partridges or pheasants ( I forget which) which had taken months to 'harvest' in the Norfolk and Suffolk fields. Tens of thousands of birds from memory! We had personal contact with the farmer exporter, who was so completely involved in the whole enterprise. Anyway, you've guessed it - the clip on unit failed, and they all went bad, and had to be dumped.

For high volumes of controlled temperature containers on set routes to port cities the porthole system took some beating, and worked well. Maybe this is relevant. Perhaps they were not the best solution for the Bank and Savill line, and the planners made a duff decision? Easily done.

All the Best//Alan

JoeQ
20th January 2009, 13:00
I joined the Laganbank at the builder yard in Sundrland for her maiden voyage on the Bank Savil run. Loaded in the US Gulf for Oz and NZ then back again loading in Melborne and Sydney then on to Mount Maunganui for Venezuala and US. Jack Appleby was the master.

One night on the passage accross the Tazman sea we managed to lose about 4 containers of (I think) milk powder over the side in bad weather. Had a look down the hatces and found a ship load of badly damaged containers down there. Some had been stowed 5 high with the tween decks open, the bottom layer of what had been 8 foot high containers were now about 4 feet high. Still the up side was we had quite a long time in port restowing

Alistair Macnab
20th January 2009, 16:27
JoeQ...

Was it a case of the botton container collapsing or being crushed by the weight of the four other containers on top? The stowage through the open tweendeck was permitted in the builder's plans. Perhaps the lashings were inadequate? Admittedly, the absence of cell guides must have been a problem. Thank you for your response.

Alistair.

JoeQ
20th January 2009, 16:58
The bottom container had collapsed due, in part to the weight of the containers on top. The weather was quite bad and the ship was rolling heavily so the dynamic loads would have been quite high. The cargo lashings were krap. We were provided with locking bar which fitted in the top corner sockets of adjcent containers on the top tier then screwed tight, shoes and brackets were fitted in between containers in the lower tiers to make the stow one, in theory, one large block. The top bars all failed and sheared in half a lot of the locking pins also failed, if I remember correctly.

I was on the 4-8 at the time and just as it was getting light I looked out of the bridge front window and thought I'm sure there were 4 containers on the starboard side of the main deck last night. I called the captain and then went down on deck for a look around I could hear knocking inside the holds so had a look down there also, it was quite a mess. Ah well worse things happen at sea I suppose

China hand
21st January 2009, 21:13
Here's a thread for all you young fellows who sailed on the Bank & Savill service between the U.S. Gulf, Caribbean and Central America and Australia and New Zealand from 1978 onwards. Savill's had been operating in competition to Bank Line before that but the combined program really got going with the "Mayfiled" and "Lindfield" of SS&A and a couple of Bank boats retro-fitted to carry insulated containers northbound from A-NZ. The culmination of the effort was the delivery of the insulated reefer ships: "Willowbank", "Dunedin" and a ship from SCONZ whose name I forget but I know it was so long that it took up most of the transom! (Just kidding! it was the "New Zealand Caribbean")

The outcome of the new service was inevitable. With a preponderance of loaded 40' containers southbound and an excess of loaded insulated 20s northbound, the service occupied most of the container slots in repositioning empty boxes and anyway, the loaded container traffic, both ways did not generate sufficient revenue to sustain the service for long.

What might be worth discussing was the service from SSA or SCONZ eyes or from engineers and/or electricians on the Bank boats who suddenly found themselves responsible for insulated 20s and the hold-fitted trunkways that attached to the "portholes" on the boxes. Lastly can anybody let me know why insulated 20s of 8ft. height were chosen as the teu base for Bank and Savill? By the time the line got going the world-wide move was certainly going towards integral containers (those with reefer machinery aboard and only requiring an electrical power source) of 8' 6" or even 9' 6" height.

Your comments should be based on "struggling with change" and your views, no matter how seemingly uninformed, of what doomed the service. I think it will be useful to collect data of this sort as it might reflect the decline of British merchant shipping albeit in microcosm in respect of Bank & Savill.

I hope this is not too "wonky" but any comments will hopefully reflect "cause and effect" as seen from the operational and technical sides rather than the political and financial points of view which are inevitably recorded by history.

Come in, chaps! Let me have it!
Alistair.

Railway tunnels in New Zealand Alistair! I still remember the look on the supers'face when he was told that the new Geelong units were too high. "Long ago, high on a cheesebox in Mexico" Harry Taylor n I had the giggles.

Alan Rawlinson
22nd January 2009, 13:56
Hallo China Hand,

Greetings form Cornwall to Zeeland.

You are right, of course. Apart from being the '' bog standard '' original ISO unit of 20x8x8 there was the important tunnel consideration, and often trains had to be made up in the UK as well, composed of 8ft high units to suit the route and the low tunnels. A few terminals even had to adopt an all road policy, which was a severe operational handicap.

As the boxes grew taller and longer new challenges emerged for all concerned, and Sealand tended to get the 'blame' although others like Maersk and others soon joined in. There were bizarre consequences, as in the late 80's I remember in Felixstowe we were faced with the possibility of buying new quay cranes just to let the longer containers pass through the leg struts safely!

Fortunately, the cranes got obsolete anyway as the ships grew higher and broader!

Cheers/Alan Rawlinson

Alistair Macnab
22nd January 2009, 17:26
Well.... this thread seems to have turned into the benefits and drawbacks of containers. The first drawback is, of course as has been discussed in this thread, that that original standards were not maintained by the carriers as they sought to put everything into boxes. I'm sure there are not too many 20x8x8 boxes around any more.
This begs the question:how much more cargo will be converted into containers? Seems to me we're almost at the top end even with half-highs, tanks, bulks, reefers, platforms, flat racks, soft sides and so on. The best calculation I've seen is that 19% of cargo by weight is containerized and that 81% is not and unlikely to be. Does this mean the return of the container-friendly cargo liner? A ship that can carry steel, dry bulks, non-flamable bulk liquids, forest products heavy lifts and ro-ros? Look at Rickmers and Swires.
They seem to think that 25000-35000 dwt multipurpose ships have a future.
I'm told that despite the downturn in international commerce, that there are at least two years of projects contracted out that will require ocean transport. I also hear that there are some container ships being converted to multipurpose ships with the removal of cell guides and the installation of portable tweendecks. Is this the end of the road for all but a few container trades that are driven by the manufacture and consumption of consumer goods?

China hand
22nd January 2009, 21:08
Back to Bank n Savill.
Forthbank was the first Bank boat to be fitted. Fun n games all round with the snakes in the tweendecks. I was mate on the first trip.
I met her a few years later in Papeete and all the Venezuela and W.I plaques were stil above the Old Mans fireplace.
I wrote a speech in Spanish for Harry to waffle on in Venezuela, it went down quite well.
We fitted all the new deck fittings in dry dock in U.K., then tested them. Capt Bazire wanted to re-test them in Aussie, but of course we had loads of trim then and the good old Cora class cranes were not up to the job.
Had much cutting and welding experience ripping out the stuff on Meadowbank a while later.
Lovely run, but what a mess the trade turned out to be. And that houseflag!!!
Was it Bull and **** or Buggered and Stuffed we called it mostly. Ah , happy days. Wooden wedges at tweendeck level, skewed Ermine hatch covers, jibs too short, tempers too short, days too short, dry-icing failed boxes.
i still alternate between shudders and smiles when I think of it.:sweat:

rabaul
25th January 2009, 18:33
Do you rememberthe number of 'MT' containers that we loaded , discharged , reloaded and redischarged as we moved around the islands - and each time the container plans had to be updated - all by hand - Container number - port of loading - port of discharge and weight - sent you bananas - and then the container fittings - double shoes placed in the wrong place leading to a ' suicide mission 'with a hack saw' - The additional fittings on the Corabank class allowed even more boxes to be carried - the change in the stored position for the crane jibs between 3 and 4 squeezed in a couple more ...

I did see boxes in Fiji with manholes on the top being loaded with bulk sugar -

kenyoung
26th January 2009, 23:40
as a sixth engineer on the meadow & forthbank all this talk of containers must be something all you deck boys enjoyed . i just loved the trip . typical bank boats , plenty of hard work, but plenty of fun along the way . melbourne cup, raiding the oriana in auckland , wine in port pirie & not forgeting steak & toohey's when the pub's opened at 6 in sidney. in these strange times a trip down memory lane brings a little joy[=P] [=P]

Alistair Macnab
27th January 2009, 16:10
Ken...
Unfortunately, the containers and other cargo and their profitable loading and discharging were the reasons for the voyages although I concede that calling at great ports and with time to savour them was important for the staff on board. Too many operational mistakes and faulty business decisions unfortunately brought the "palmy" days to an end and I don't think that there was anything shipboard staff could do to prevent that.
You're probaly correct in the long run. Lie back and enjoy it when its inevitable anyway! Next to injustice, betrayal is the hardest to take!

kenyoung
28th January 2009, 21:19
most of our ships gone . c h bailey dry docks where i served my time , gone. not a lot of future in engieering today . it seems, for me, to many betrayals . so forgive me if i look back with rosy tinted glasses to a time when i let others worry . many friends and good times were provided by the bank savill run . god bless those who created it , just for my memories. i'm a richer person for the experince(Thumb)

The Captain
30th January 2009, 01:30
I sailed 2 trips on the Meadowbank in the '70's. The "box" holds were No's 3 & 4, side by side spit hatches. As I remember the lower holds were designed for boxes 3 high and the 'tween deck 2 high - 8'00" boxes. By the time the class was built the standard box height had been changed to 8' 6". We were told that is was because the French railway system had originally restricted the height of containers or any "cargo" to 8 feet above their flatbed rail cars to enable them to pass safely through the numerous tunnels. At some time in the early '70's this height restriction was lifted to 8'6" and all new containers were then built to this standard. This meant that boxes could only be loaded 2 high in the lower hold and one high in the 'tween deck which incurred a vast amount of broken stowage space since loading general cargo on top of boxes was a very big NO NO.
Another design problem with these vessels (Corabank class) was that 40' boxes could only be loaded to the aft end of No. 4 hatch lid as the "Gemini" cranes could not plumb a 20' box stowed on the after "shoes". I am not sure if there was a similar problem with No. 3 hatch lids but I would have thought so.
I suppose this "box" stowage problem and the wasted space went towards the problems with these ships even though some of them were still operating into the 90's.
I left the Bank Line in 1976 so I have no knowledge of any alterations that may have been made to these vessels to overcome the problems.
A question, Alistair, were you one of the "dock or building supers" in about '74 in the North East. If so did you do the first docking of the Meadowbank in South Shield in late '74. That was at the time the Clydebank was doing her "speed" trials. I was 2nd Mate on her at the time, Brian Lucy was Coastal Mate and John Lowans was Master.
John S

Supergoods
30th January 2009, 10:39
I believe the change to 8' 6" box height originated in the United States when it was discovered that two high pallets inside the containers could be stowed in a container with the extra 6" which gave a better match to the road trailers then in use.

As far as the railway issues were concerned it was the British railway system that had the most restrictive loading gauge of the standard track gauge lines and required special low height wagons for even 8' boxes, hence that little yellow or red sticker found on most containers today.

The New Zealand Railways, being narrow gauge were even more restricted.

Ian

Alistair Macnab
30th January 2009, 17:47
Response to "The Captain"....
Many thanks for your candid views about the "Corabank" class and containers. I was already in the USA in 1974 having arrived in New Orleans in 1968 so I was not involved with the design and building of these ships although Captain Gale (the Chief Marine Superintendent at the time) had discussions with his USA staff at the design stage. Its unfortunate that so many container and deeptank issues were not resolved before building began but the ships were beautiful carriers as multipurpose ships - general cargo, breakbulk, bulk liquids, dry bulks and heavy lifts/projects. They were only designed to handle containers as part of a mixed cargo. The Bank and Savill project thrust them into a full container mode for which they were unsuited.
Kind regards and good luck in Oz!

China hand
30th January 2009, 19:37
Beautiful carriers as multipurpose ships ? Cummon Alistair;
5 sorts of hatch covers
3 sorts of cranes
Jumbo derrick a la 20's albeit very special metal and virtualy unrepairable
Unstripable deep tanks
10 ton gear on the sticks
Bridge? a wish list from hell!
and so much more.

Spent a lot of time in nearly all of them; 20 million good razorblades in every one.

The Fish class were nice though.

Alistair Macnab
30th January 2009, 22:36
China Hand....

Note I said beautiful carriers which means they could lift a lot of good-paying cargo! I made no comment about their relative efficiency or effectiveness as it's not for me to say as I never sailed on this class of Bank boat. But I could load one in five or six working days in the U.S. Gulf including bulk liquid parcels in nine of eleven deeptanks.
Sunday night arrival in Houston
Monday and Tuesday generals loading at City Docks 22/23
Monday and Tuesday nights at the oil terminals
Wednesday at sea
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at New Orleans loading generals
Thursday/Friday night at the river oil terminals
Saturday to finish off at Governor Nicholls Street Wharf.
(Sometimes port rotation reversed. New Orleans first, Houston second if a drag line or other heavylift cargo to stow on top or Galveston loading)
Then off to Australia!
You guys on the ships must have loved me!
Alistair

China hand
31st January 2009, 19:22
Och, away Hamish! You KNOW it was deep affection!
(Anat times weren't bad either).
Uncle Mike was the REAL bad man. :-)

Alistair Macnab
31st January 2009, 22:04
I was too polite to mention your time with Zim. But not altogether kosher to blame Mike in New Orleans or John and Hamish in Houston. We all worked hard and expected the ship staffs to do the same. Too bad for the saloon keepers on Bourbon Street. Managed to get a few lunches in at the Playboy Club though. Have you scrolled through the "Favourite Watering Places" thread?

Alistair(Hamish's alter ego)

China hand
1st February 2009, 16:38
Kosher shmosher, maks niets. But we did have a few laffs getting chucked out here n there, did we not? (On WHO's key??)
Yup, did have a look:sweat:

The Captain
4th February 2009, 22:09
I was in New Orleans for 3 Mardi Gras, or should I say, should have been but someone just managed to arrange at the last minute a quick trip up to Baton Rouge for the Mardi Gras holiday. The it was back to N.O. to load cargo all day and oil all night and then sail. There was a strong case for an extra Mate on those ships either that or the Master doing a cargo watch instead of lunches up the road. Really, with hindsight (what a wonderful thing) the working hours of the 3 Mates increased when the idea of "cargo planning" for loading ships came into being. By that I mean planning the loading schedule prior to the arrival of the vessel to utilise every minute of the stay and minimise the length of that stay. However this put an aweful lot of strain on the Mate and Master who still were responsible for the safe loading of the ship. Usually the first they heard about the schedule was on berthing when they were expected to be able to absorb all the details from the stevedore while trying to organise the crew to open hatches etc. usually after spending the 4-8 on the bridge. On top of all that it was expected that the Mate be available all day for cargo changes, then for a couple of hours shift ship to the oil berth, usually at meal time, then all night loading oil. Under US law he, the Mate, was responsible for the loading under the US polution law, hence he had to be there at all times. Having finished the oil for the night' in the early hours of the morning, (anywhere from 3 to 5 am) an hour or so rest and then it was shift ship back to the general cargo berth to do it all again, this went on untill the loading was complete then the ship sailed and all the shore staff congratulated themselves on a good job without thought of the trauma they had caused the ships officers, we thought they didn't really care anyway, just found it amusing. There was never a "super" around in the middle of the night, they never appeared at the oil berth, they never offered any help to the Mates, just expected them to keep going for the full three week stay on the US Gulf Coast during loading.
The last trip I did my wife, who with me on the ship, bought me two things in the last port of loading, the first a "Superman Cape" as she said I'd worn my old one out and the second was a little plaque wich said "When the rush is over I am going to have a nervous breakdown, I've worked for it and earned it and nobody is going to deprive me of it".
Bank Line was always a hard working company but those loading ports of the US Gulf were the worst because there had been no thought of the workings of the Officers on the ships just in how could time be saved and therefore money. Alistair, you say you worked hard, but I doubt you would have put up with 3,4 or 5 ports in about 3 weeks the way those ships loaded, you had one "super" per port or you did it by phone for the Florida ports. No body thought of help for the Mates and 2nd Mates - how many "supers" suggested that the Master lend a hand - none, and if they did they would have been told to "shove it"
The control of the loading was removed from the ship and put ashore, however the responsibility was still firmly with the ship, as soon as she passed Panama the "cock ups" where someone elses problem, and "cock ups" there were with cargo overstowed all over the place, cargo said to be in one hold only to be found in another. This of course was blamed on the ship but with only two mates on deck at any one time how did you think they could look after 5 holds when they had been no pre loading consultation with the ship, plenty with the stevedore but none with the people with shom the legal responsibility lay. The stevedores didn't care so long as the ships sailed on time with all the cargo in regardless as to it being in the planned position. At least today the cargo planners for container ships are held responsible for stuff ups in loading not so much the Master and Mate of the ship.
John S

Charlie Stitt
5th February 2009, 19:48
When I resigned from Weir's in 1967 having served two years as Mate I often wondered if I had done the right thing. Hurrah! now I can put my mind at rest. Alistair's loading schedule (30th Jan) and John's response above sounds like it was a nightmare for the Mate, especially loading oil at night, trying to concentrate to get correct ullages. Please don't write any more about what it was REALLY like, You are spoiling my happy memories. Sods(Cloud)

Alistair Macnab
6th February 2009, 00:06
Captain John and Charlie.....

I was only exchanging private emails with another of our fraternity on SN the other day on the fact that ship's staffs were not properly briefed on the cargo stowage and the financial considerations and voyage outcome of a liner operation and regretting the reality that shore mariners were somewhat to blame for this omission and here you both are.... living proof that we were indeed at fault for not engaging your complete understanding and commitment.
I hear you say that money and profit aren't everything even although both of you have suffered the indignity of seeing your sea careers snuffed out by UK shipowners' lack of foresight in designing, building and manning cargo liners to match the demands of shippers instead of running after the container as if that was the answer to everything.

Today, in Houston and New Orleans, the ports are full of breakbulk, portable tweendeck, heavy lift ships from Denmark, Norway and Germany carrying liner and charter cargo to the underdeveloped corners of the world. What went wrong with Britain's contribution to this "multipurpose" ship sector? After all this was the special sector that Bank Line built up from tramping all by ourselves.

It must have been galling to be in NOLA and miss THREE Mardi Gras! But be assured your shore side mariners were not just having cups of tea in the office with the office help sitting on our knees peeling grapes for our pleasure, but we were desperately trying to create revenue and profit for each sailing and not plotting to give you on the ships a hard time!

BUT...I agree, we could have done more to solicit your understanding and full cooperation! I remember when we broke the 1 Million barrier in single ship revenue. This took 40 years then was doubled to $2 Million in two years with the "Cora" Class and was well on the way to $3 Million in under a year when we did our joint thing with Savills and revenues fell back down to under $1 Million and growing cost of operations trying to mix containers with general cargo.

Mea culpa to your comments. I don't think we could have provided an easier loading schedule but there could have been more input from the ships regarding cargo stowage. The work hours, I'm afraid, were the result of a ship manning scale that was outdated in several aspects but that's what the job was all about. Remember your shore staff were also Mates and Masters in their turn! Come on, admit it...The good times outweighed the bad! Life would have been so much more pleasant without these bleeping Superintendents!
Kindest regards to you both!
Alistair.

Iriscable Fairy
6th February 2009, 06:38
Alistair - I remember you well and I remember the hard times and the long hours also BUT - and hurrah - it wasn't half fun!

Richard Collinson

Alistair Macnab
6th February 2009, 15:31
Colin....
So you are "Iriscable Fairy"! We are gathering quite a Bank Line contingent here! After the Indian business came to an end then the U.S.Gulf became the money-earner for the company. You can imagine our disappointment when it came crashing down. I don't want to be what we call in the U.S.a "Monday morning quarterback" but as we were so strong on breakbulk, why did we have to capitulate over containers? Today., after 40 years, container traffic is only 18% by weight of world commerce and breakbulk (excluding dry and liquid bulks) is an astonishing 14% ! There was always room for a British presence in this sector if we had had the vision to see it!

I hope you are enjoying your re-ordered life just as I am. I enjoy being the resident curmudgeon within Houston's maritime set. Kindest regards,
Alistair.

The Captain
7th February 2009, 00:00
Alistair, if I may be so bold, your coment re "supers" being Mates and Masters while being true, they were not of our time they were of a time past. As it is today, the Masters and Mates of the "tramps" of today - bulk carriers - are expected to put up with far more "office control" than we ever were. Most Masters nowadays have to consult with head office prior to making any alteration to the "plan" be it the loading plan or the route plan.
I think if I had my time again with Bank Line I would pick the 11 years from '59 or '60, those for me me appear to have been the best times and funnily enough in spite of not very much night work in port and no weekend work everybody, the ports, the shipping companys, the crews and the stevedores made money. The big problem came when greed took a foot hold in the '70's and this increased from then on. With the greed for more money came the governmental interferrence such work place health and safety extremes and all the other extras thought up by control freaks, such as "Quality Assurence" a bigger waste of money has yet to be thought up by mankind yet it still is very much in vogue. When you look closely at "QA" all it really guarrentees is if you are providing a bad service/product hen you will continue to do this. This is progress, of course there are many organizations who make vast fortunes out of QA, the surveying company SGS being one of them. In the early '80's 75% of SGS's income came from marine and comodity surveying - quantity and quality certification by 1996 this had fallen to 20% but "Q.A" certification now accounted for 80% of their income, mainly in the 'States and Europe.
Being at sea in the 50's was not the same as the 60's and it was a far cry from what was experienced in the mid 70's and 80's. The eras can't be compared any more than our era (the 50's to the 80's) can be compared to what is experienced today, unless, of course you are still actually at sea.
Yes it was fun while it lasted for most of the time. The chartering department who were really the back bone of Bank Line should have realised by the mid to late 70's that medium sized bulk carriers were the way to go not boxes unless you were going to commit to the container only ships of the "liner" routes. The boys in Bury Street were not, it seems, as bright as they would have had us believe. There was a rumour going around the world that Bank Line was seriously thinking of getting rid of their fleet and chartering foriegn flag ships and crews. Why buy when you can rent.

John S

Charlie Stitt
7th February 2009, 11:36
Alas, It was not just Bankline that lacked foresight but every British shipping company you can think off. But then there is nothing British anymore, even the English football clubs are under the foreign flag. Look on the bright side, we had the best years of the Merchant Navy, I have no regrets in choosing Andy Weir ships to cruise around the world on, would love to do it again, on the same type of ship of course.(Thumb)

Alistair Macnab
7th February 2009, 19:10
John and Charlie....
In the USA the supers were very much of the same generation as the seafarers on board ship! They certainly were contemporaries or in fact younger than most of the serving Masters. The speed by which port time had to be conducted (time equals money in the USA perhaps more than anywhere else and unionised labor rules dictated much advance planning and notice)
kept the Supers hopping and I would think it very likely that stow plans were discussed between the Super and the Mate at the earliest stage as I know the other guys Mike Ward and John Shaw were very aware of the ship's contribution to a good stowage outcome.
But your point about too much shore "control" of today's ship activities by shore staffs is well taken. This has in my opinion allowed owners to downgrade sea staffs to almost bus driver status. Ships now cost so much money it seems inconceivable that owners would not want superior professional people to look after their investment. Is "instant communication" any substitute for an alert and knowledgable person on board, able to make an intelligent decision on the spot?
We have strayed away from Bank and Savill into a discussion about the role of an sea-going officer in the 21st Century. AND....what happened to the British Merchant Navy?
Any active seafarers out there to comment?
Alistair.

mil511mariner
11th March 2009, 16:15
I sailed on the Meadowbank in 78 and again in 79. The first trip was Meadowbanks first on the B&S run and included the docking in Barry when the pedestals between 3 + 4 hatches were constructed to give the leckies access to the fidge compressors. I have a great photo in my memory book of the snow at the end of January 78 right up to the top of the hatch coamings - got my first verbal warning for snow balling the serang.

I remember on the 78 trip the hours the leckies spent trying to wick leaking rum from a tank container of Jamaica rum intro a drip tray and the wonderful aroma of rum on the bridge wing on calm pacific evenings.

The 78 trip was fun loads of strikes in Australia - the 79 trip not so from the hard work and fast turn arounds. One prominent memory is the Captains enough said.............

With regard to the present day there are still loads of us earning a living around the world in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Alan Rawlinson
11th March 2009, 17:39
Reminds me of my days after the Bankline when manager of a container terminal, and savvy to the dockers tricks in London. Knowing which container had spirits in it ( because they were pulled out for custom's or port health inspection) they would get their mates to slam the box down on the ground to smash the contents when it was being moved by a straddle carrier. The spirits would then run out under the door seal, and there would be a steady stream of workers with paper cups from the vending machines, holding them under the running spirit. It was usually very high proof for diluting later, so the results were all too predictable!

Cheers // Alan Rawlinson

mil511mariner
17th April 2009, 15:15
I was in a port in South Africa - 1977 - Maplebank - we often had one of the Engineers relations aboard - this guy was a foreman on the docks and when we were about to sail a nice bottle of malt was given in gratitude for hospitality received. It had come from the cargo of a Clan boat berthed astern of us. The method was the off going pallet was floated close past an out of operation crane where a strong pair of arms grabbed a case in passing - the stolen case was hidden in the crane until a suitable opportunity to break it down and remove it came. One can imagine the tally mens dilemma at the end of the shift - another lesson learned for the young D/O.

China hand
21st April 2009, 19:16
Now; was the lettering on that most UnHeraldic design of dishrag meant to indicate Bugger & Stuff or Bull & Shite. Elucidate with meaning.(==D)

Alistair Macnab
2nd June 2009, 16:58
Bank and Savill R.I.P.
Not too many tears shed from the Bank side. I had hoped to hear from anybody in SSA who knew something about Bank and Savill. Or is it just one of the efforts at the fag end of liner shipping soonest forgotten?
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