The best of Mates....

Jim Harris
19th July 2009, 07:40
Navigation must have always been a challenge to Deck officers,
but what about the loading and stowing of cargo?

Surely, the Mates on a bulk-carrier or an ore-carrier would have
had a less stressful life than those on, say the 'Elmina Palm',
with a general cargo out, and a general gargo back on a
tight schedule?

Regards,

Jim.

P.S. Forgive my ignorance as this is posted by an Engineer
and isn't intended to start a war!!(Thumb)

Bill Davies
19th July 2009, 07:56
I don't think anyone would disagree with your premise Jim, but none of it is particularly daunting.
Sure, there is much work in the old general cargo ships stowage plans but after you have worked a few they are very 'samey'.
Bulk Carriers can be considered the easy option but they have there own problems and in the hands of some 'joker' can be probably the most dangerous of them all. Tankers loading multi-grades can be stressful but that the life we are in. I've witnessed more stress and accidents on OBOs/O.O carriers (cleaning phase) than any other and that is probably down to and old bulk carrier man playing with oil or vice versa.

Cisco
19th July 2009, 08:00
Having sailed as c/mate in both bulk and general cargo I think what you say would be true in most cases. Mind you the bulkers that I sailed on carried a limited range of bulk cargoes.

With general the work level probably varied between companies. I think with some companies much of the cargo planning was done ashore. With the outfit I was with it was all up to the mate to find somewhere to stow everything, you just had so much space reserved for each port. At one time ships started discharging in, lets say, Capetown and kept on discharging until Beira by which time the ship was empty. Then they started loading down the coast all the way back to Capetown. By the time I was sailing as mate in 1970 the HK outfit I was with worked pretty much on the principle that the first discharge port was also the first loading port which upped the stress level a few notches. That was on single 'tween deck 4 and 5 hatch ships working between 10 and 15 ports in the course of a round voyage.

Cisco
19th July 2009, 08:03
Must agree there with Bill that OBOs are one of the most evil creations out there. The bulkers I was mate on were simple gearless jobbies of between 7 and 16 dwt.

jaydeeare
19th July 2009, 12:46
At College, I remember seeing a film of the C/O moving weights (representing the weight of the cargo being loaded) around a model of the ship to ensure correct loading. this model was on some form of gimbals or water (I can't recall now - too long ago) to represent the ships behavior.

Was this the case in all general cargo ships?

joebuckham
19th July 2009, 12:53
At College, I remember seeing a film of the C/O moving weights (representing the weight of the cargo being loaded) around a model of the ship to ensure correct loading. this model was on some form of gimbals or water (I can't recall now - too long ago) to represent the ships behavior.

Was this the case in all general cargo ships?

it was called a "ralston" and on gimbals, can't answer for everyone, but have personally used it for both bulk and general (Thumb)

Cisco
19th July 2009, 13:00
Used for calculating GM or stability of the ship, only ones I recall sailing with were on the Union Castle mail boats. What I do recall is that the swimming pools were always set at 'empty'. They were gimbaled.

jaydeeare
19th July 2009, 14:40
Thanks Joe/Cisco. Good to know my memory wasn't playing up!

Bill Davies
19th July 2009, 16:48
Thanks Joe/Cisco. Good to know my memory wasn't playing up!

If you are interested in learning a little more you will find details of the Ralston Stability and Trim Indicator in Derrett's Ship Stability. A handy devicebut I must say Joe I never used one on Bulk Carriers.

Bill

Klaatu83
19th July 2009, 21:22
The Mates on the Lykes Lines break-bulk freighters and Farrell Lines container ships had their work cut out for them. Lykes mates never knew what cargo they were going to load until they arrived in port, and had to plan their stow without recourse to a computer. In addition, while most container ship mates enjoyed the luxury of receiving pre-stow plans prepared by the shore-side office, Farrell Lines container ship mates had to make up their own stow plans themselves. The reason for that was that there had been a few cases of stability problems after using shore-side stow plans, so the ships' masters and mates no longer trusted the shore-side wallahs to do the job correctly.

joebuckham
19th July 2009, 21:54
If you are interested in learning a little more you will find details of the Ralston Stability and Trim Indicator in Derrett's Ship Stability. A handy devicebut I must say Joe I never used one on Bulk Carriers.

Bill

hi bill, comparisons only and very small bulk carriers compared to the ships you sailed in

Hugh Ferguson
19th July 2009, 22:04
This is a "thumbnail" to demonstrate the complexity of a typical cargo from China and Japan in 1950: from elephants to frozen eggs and just about everything in between.

sparkie2182
19th July 2009, 23:56
we used to have a ship model loaded with birdseed at FNC............

tilt the ship, watch the seed move...........

seemed a bit obvious to we sparkies, but then...................

:)

Alistair Macnab
21st July 2009, 16:39
To Apprentices and Third Mates, cargo is just another job but once you become a Second Mate and have responsibility for cargo plans you begin to realize that the sole purpose of a ship is to carry goods from one place to another and to create a means of identifying what's in each cargo space at the discharging end that will determine gang-hours per hatch.
But as a Chief Mate, you have the added responsibility of ensuring that cargo is handled and stowed properly, that it is not crushed, spoiled or contaminated in any way and that the ship's stability is not jeopardized. Cargo work becomes a mission and although shore side help is welcome especially when new cargo deliveries are taking place during actual loading, a cool head and a full knowledge of what's already aboard and what the port rotations are, are the measure of a good, not to say great, Mate.
This comes to the fore today, when many breakbulk cargoes are 'projects' that is a mixed multitude of weight and measurement items with perhaps some containers and hazardous good thrown in. The typical Mates who handle these cargoes are often older men from western Europe or youngsters who have learned at the knee of such experts and are today's 'action' officers. Experience is the key ingredient and that can only me learned on the job
I pity officers whose experience is only on container ships. If ever they have to move elsewhere, they are sunk!

johnb42
22nd July 2009, 01:22
I think the one that sorted the men from the boys in the Bank Line, was the Bay of Bengal to West Coast of South America run. Loading in Chalna, Chittagong, Calcutta, Bombay, Visak etc etc for discharge in literally a couple of dozen ports from Momabassa to Guayaquil or even further north in South America, was quite a feat. Add to that, that from Mombassa to Capetown you were discharging and back loading for WCSA.
The best bit was that in the likes of Chalna you had no idea of what was in the barge until the covers came off. There was usually an apologetic "sorry sahib, no Mombassa alongside, but plenty Valporaiso". Even splitting the lower hold into three sometimes wasn't enough and you had to plan for overstows and shifting cargo at sea with the crew.

oceangoer
22nd July 2009, 03:29
To Apprentices and Third Mates, cargo is just another job but as Chief Mate, you have the added responsibility of ensuring that cargo is handled and stowed properly, that it is not crushed, spoiled or contaminated in any way and that the ship's stability is not jeopardized .........

As a Middy in Blue Flu I often used to wonder why the Mate never went ashore from Birkenhead to Liverpool (via Japan). Elsewhere as Mate myself I found out why. After 18 hour days in port working 12 gangs in 6 hatches and looking forward to getting back to sea and a restful 12 hour day I decided that the Mate had the worst job aboard. The decision then was whether or not to become a 'professional' 2nd Mate (the best job aboard) or push myself into a command.
I took the latter option and always had sympathy for that poor sod ...The Mate.

Bill Davies
22nd July 2009, 08:46
The decision then was whether or not to become a 'professional' 2nd Mate (the best job aboard) or push myself into a command.


Enjoyed my time as Ch.Mate but could never undersand those who became 'Professional Second Mate'. Do not agree that it was the best job onboard. It was the one rank I wished to spend the least time possible.

Cisco
22nd July 2009, 11:27
In 1970 space out of Calcutta to the further bits of the Far East was at a premium... probably always had been, probably still is.
We were the last company ship to load in Calcutta to all ports between there and Japan.

'Mukerjee of the Dirty Dohti' was the agency man and he would be without a job after we sailed.... he spent every day on the settee in my dayroom doing Ghandi impersonations ( she didn't run to a Mate's Office..)... trying to weedle more space out of me.. space that I had to keep free for Rangoon. Every morning my first job was to go through the ship kicking cargo out of Rangoon space.. then spend the day with Mukerjee doing his weedling.

Two days before we sailed he didn't show up... the day before we sailed there was a line of business men in the alleyway outside my dayroom.... ' Where is Mr Mukerjee... he promised that my cargo would be on the ship....'

I guess he was well on his way to Darjeeling by then... what we these days would call a 'self funded retiree'... :)

Alistair Macnab
22nd July 2009, 16:30
Cisco....
Loved your selective prose regarding Mr. Mukerjee. It was delicious! Our 'stevedore in Calcutta' was perhaps his brother-in-law, Mr. Bannerjee, who performed a similar function with the same flair for the impossible and improbable.
I always remember in the early morning mist of breakfast wood fires from the barges the plaintive cries of the Head Kuranni calling for a barge that wasn't there to come alongside for the start of the morning's loading. And the difficulty of re-organizing the stowage when cargo for an early discharging port had to be accommodated instead of a later one and the tween decks were already fully committed.
Johnb42 describes beautifully, the dilemma of dividing bottom stowage into three and even the crew being used at sea to rectify unfortunate overstows.
What a life! I cannot imagine anything more satisfying that being a Mate to resolve all these issues! It makes my heart beat a little faster and I can smell the wood smoke even as I write this accompanied by the shouts of the babus and the chink-chink-chink of the cymbals from the dawn bathers at the nearby ghats!

Hugh Ferguson
26th July 2009, 14:00
Enjoyed my time as Ch.Mate but could never undersand those who became 'Professional Second Mate'. Do not agree that it was the best job onboard. It was the one rank I wished to spend the least time possible.

Me too!!

oceangoer
27th July 2009, 03:59
Enjoyed my time as Ch.Mate but could never undersand those who became 'Professional Second Mate'. Do not agree that it was the best job onboard.

Like Punter I didn't join to work 12 - 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fine, work it when necessary in fog or hazardous waters. But 8 hours a day on watch and 4 hours a day trying to keep one ship afloat was a pain in the rear and an 0700 to 2300 day wasn't my idea of fun when working mixed cargo.

It's the sort of sado-masochism that Blue Funnel Chief Officers specialised in.

Second Mate ..... bobbies job, alls quiet when he's on the bridge. Lightlists, Radio Signals, charts, and the cargo plan .... oh and wind the chronometer.

One of the first things that I learned as Master was .... get yourself a Japanese Chief Officer. They're good, very good. Learn quickly, efficient, and (eventually) good solid friends. I had the same Japanese Mate for my last 5 years and I ensured that he succeeded me in command.

Bill Davies
27th July 2009, 08:45
One of the first things that I learned as Master was .... get yourself a Japanese Chief Officer. They're good, very good. Learn quickly, efficient, and (eventually) good solid friends. I had the same Japanese Mate for my last 5 years and I ensured that he succeeded me in command.

How could I disagree!
(Looks like you have been reading many of my previouis posts)

oceangoer
28th July 2009, 02:42
(Looks like you have been reading many of my previouis posts)

Sorry Bill, I try not to.