Engineers pre-sea Grading

ccurtis1
16th September 2009, 16:44
In 1964, having served 4 years of an apprenticeship at the Sunderland Forge, I was approached by an Engineering Superintendant of Silver Line asking if I wanted to go to sea, and to complete the final year of my "time" with that Company. Did I ever as that was all I ever wanted to do. So it was arranged for me to go for a pre-sea grading first off, before going along to the Shipping Federation in Newcastle for the other formalities. Nothing could have prepared me for the interview with a Mr Lally at an office in Tatham Street in Sunderland. He tore into me because I had mistakenly written English as my nationality, instead of British, and other minor infringements on the application form were perceived by him to be worthy of capital punishment. I walked out without having received my grading. 2 or 3 days later whilst at the Forge, the Super from Silver Line asked to see me in personnel and asked why I hadnt been to the Federation in Newcastle. I related my experience to him. About an hour later I was asked to attend once more to Mr. Lally for a pre - sea grading. The difference in his attitude this time was markedly different, giving advice about certificates and he wished me well in my new career and gave me a top grade (Afraid I cannot remember now what it was). Does this proceedure, ie pre sea grading still exist? Any other ancient engineer mariners have similar experiences in the sixties with the pre sea grading or did I catch the surveyor on a bad day?

cacique
16th September 2009, 17:09
Served my time at a Hospital Engineering and Surgical Instrument Maker at Leeds (Chas. F. Thackray) as a machine tool setter - the heaviest engineering was the machining of artificial hip femoral prosthesis (all of about half a pound weight). Worked with one guy who was ex-Merch and, after listening to his stories, decided the Merch was for me. At the time I went to the Shipping Federation in Hull and they arranged for my pre-sea grading with Bob Barr of Hull. Somewhere I still have a copy of the pre-sea grading application which I will try and find and post here.

My pre-sea grading was "Unfit for Sea Service".

Well I thought that´s it then !

Took the form back to the Shipping Federation and was away as Junior in under a week ! (Must have been short of people then).

Long and short of it was that I had to do extra sea time above that required at the time to sit my Second´s.

Thanks for the memory. Kind Regards, David Wilson.

gordy
16th September 2009, 22:43
Is my memory serving correctly in thinking that to get the top grading (O1 ?), you needed to have an ONC and have completed an apprenticeship on engines with a prop shaft of greater than a certain diameter, (which of course I can't remember)!

spongebob
17th September 2009, 07:07
Engineer’s pre sea training

In NZ’s immediate post war times of the late 40’s and the 50’s it was normal practice for an intending marine engineer to serve a five year apprentiship in a “Full time” heavy engineering shop that did manufacturing and/or maintenance of marine and heavy machinery. If a person served his time in a lesser rated shop he was required to do additional time in a full rating shop to ‘top up’ his experience. These lesser shops were graded 4/5th or 3/5th shops so a man from a 3/5th had to do another two years in a full time rated shop.
At that time NZ was not short of these full time shops as there was a big volume of shipping visiting our shores and after the long voyages from Europe there was always a demand for workshops to carry out marine engine and steam boiler maintenance and repair.
Auckland had the Naval Dockyard, Mason Brothers, Seagar Brothers, United repair and many others as did all the other main ports of call for overseas shipping while the likes of the NZ Rail workshops and A&G Price of Thames manufactured and maintained railway steam locomotives that provided like training.
There was a period, in the 50’s at least, when there was a huge shortage of marine engineers in NZ and I believe that this was worldwide at the time and I remember that the Union Steamship Co engaged in the practice of recruiting engineers in the UK for new ship deliveries to NZ from Clyde ship builders Robb and Stephens. They also recruited ticketed engineers in Britain and flew them to NZ on two year contracts.
When I sailed from London on NZSCo’s Rangitane for my return voyage to NZ there was a complete change of junior engineers as most of the previous voyage’s men had either been promoted or had sought a berth on company cargo ships after finding the life style on a passenger ship too socially expensive to put it mildly.
These new recruits, about four of them, were first trippers and had come from less than marine related workshops in fact two of them hailed from the Midlands and were trained as fitters on the likes of industrial knitting/weaving looms etc.
Green at first but it did not take them too long to adapt but I always will remember the young engineer whose cabin was next to mine. We arrived in Curacao for refueling and a quick crankcase crawl so into the red hot crank case he went, slipped and fell, almost swallowed a mouthful of dirty lube etc before being sent up to his cabin for a break. I was off watch from the freezer and chatting to him when up came the Second to ask after his health. “How are you feeling son”, the junior answered “OK now second” the second then replied “Good, that’s fine, you had better get down below and help the boys finish off”.
The lad had a weep he was so overwhelmed by it all.
He did not do another trip and returned home to face the call up for two years military service in lieu of the option of spending five years in the Merchant navy as I recall.
I guess that I was lucky in as much as the dockyard sent all apprentices that had worked on main machinery to sea on trials so gaining an insight to the reality of engine and boiler rooms at sea and even a tot of rum in the ERA’s mess but nothing prepared me for my first watch in the Rangitane’s diesel engine room with its twin 6 cylinder Doxfords and a junior from Banff to show me the ropes.
I never understood a word.

Bob

Philthechill
17th September 2009, 23:37
I had a similar experience to Dave in Post #2.

I served my time as a precision-turner with a Scientific and Optical Instrument makers called Cooke, Troughton & Simms of York (one of the best microscope and theodolite-makers in the World) and consistently worked to very fine limits with a couple of "thou" being a huge dimension and drawings marked in "tenths-of-a-thou" being, whilst not regular, nothing too out of the ordinary.

Got the urge to go to sea after being regaled about what a great life it was by an ex-MN engineer, I worked with, and, as it was the time when National Service had been knocked on the head (although I'd been "caught") and National Service "dodgers" (the engineers who, sensibly, opted to go to sea instead of doing NS were leaving in droves as they didn't need to see their commitment out) shipping companies would take anybody on who had any kind of mechanical apprenticeship behind them.

I applied to several oufits, getting positive replies from them all, but decided I fancied Brock's so went along to see them in "The Kremlin" (Cunard Building) and saw Superintendent-Engineer Charlie House. He seemed quite pleased with me and said I could start, but I'd need to go to Hull Federation and get "Graded".

I turned-up at the appointed hour and went to see a bloke (His name? I've no idea!) for my grading (it should have been called a "degrading" as this pillock sneeringly said my "engineering" background was "far too light in nature to be even considered for the Merchant Navy, so I'm afraid I can't give you a Grade").

I was very proud of my turning-ability and wasn't best-pleased with this cretin, and his disparaging remarks, and said something along the lines of, "I tell you what, I would find it extremely easy to adapt from the precision-work, I'm used to, to the hammer-and-chisel style you're on about whereas I doubt very much if it would work the other way round!"-----and walked-out.

I rang Brock's and asked to speak to Charlie House and when he answered I said, "Sorry Mr. House, I won't be joining you after all as I can't get Graded."

"Oh don't worry about that!", said Charlie, "We'll take you on, on a six-month trial basis, and we'll see how you go from there. The only thing about your not getting graded means you'll have to get more sea-time in before you can go for your ticket!"

Fifteen years later I came ashore! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Fieldsy
18th September 2009, 09:27
I'd forgotten all about grading. Two years after completing my apprenticeship I was graded before going to sea. Can't remember what the actual code was but do remember it was the top grade as I had some (though not a lot) experience in what they considered (though I didn't) to be heavy engineering.

Billieboy
18th September 2009, 12:35
I poped out of the workshop one lunchtime in Cardiff, went to the BOT office, just outside the Bute Street gate, walked in asked for a grade, the guy asked where I was serving my time and he gave me a bit of paper with Grade : 2B on it. No hassle at all. I understood that the minimum requirement for 2B, was to lift a minimum of two tons and turn a minimum of eight inches diameter. Some of the Rams I turned, were 35 tons and 30 inch diameter, so I was in with Flynn!

davetodd
18th September 2009, 17:02
Is my memory serving correctly in thinking that to get the top grading (O1 ?), you needed to have an ONC and have completed an apprenticeship on engines with a prop shaft of greater than a certain diameter, (which of course I can't remember)!
I'm pretty sure Gordy is right about the ONC requirement, certainly in the 1950's.
But as supply and demand for engineers changed, so will the Grading structure have changed!
That's life I suppose, not confined to pre-sea grading either.(EEK)
Dave

jmirvine
18th September 2009, 18:52
For Bob Jenkins -
Did you ever meet an Engineer in NZSCo from Peterhead called Doug Strachan?

I worked with him on North Sea Oil Platforms in the 70's, and he used to tell me about going to NZ woth NZSCo

raybnz
23rd September 2009, 03:15
I served my apprenticeship as a fitter and turner in Petone near Wellington NZ. The NZ Marine department had classifactions for each workshop and it depended on what type of engineering was carried.

The workshop I work at was classed 4/5 full marine and when I approached Union Steamship for a job I had quite a job trying to convince the Engineer Supt that it was graded so. He told me to walk over to the Marine Department Office and get paperwork to prove this.

However Shall Savill and Albion's office was on the way and I got a job with them instead.

spongebob
23rd September 2009, 04:24
jmirvine, No, I cannot recall Doug in NZSCo.

Regards Bob

barrys
23rd September 2009, 12:27
Hi all, I was sitting in a cafe in 1972 being a time served mechanic speaking to a guy about the merchant navy and he said he had friend in the shipping business who could help, anyway one phone call and he sent me a workshop service testimonial to be filled in by previous employers which i did, then off to the board of trade london for a verbal exam , I have the tickets in front of me graded " unclassified" (motor mechanic) . unclassified meaning, may have to do extra sea time for entry for 2nds ticket. not classified means not acceptable for sea service ( its all on the board of trade ticket ) One week later in amsterdam on GULf SCOT ( tanker) for 6 months, then given sea going testimonial by chief for entry for 2nds ticket. all the best Barry.

jmirvine
23rd September 2009, 13:14
jmirvine, No, I cannot recall Doug in NZSCo.

Regards Bob

Thanks Bob.

Bit of a long shot anyway.

Regards Jim

chadburn
23rd September 2009, 21:25
Mr Lally, if he was Irish it may well have been the same "character" I came across, served my time at Smiths, N.S. was still running with no end in sight, as an Apprentice it could be deferred but as strange as it may sound these days I felt it was my duty to do it ( the Russian's in those days were expected to move into W. Germany at any time at the height of the Cold War). After "talks" with Smith's in regards to finishing my Time and what I needed to do, off I went, I returned to Smiths and after a period of time I was approached by the Super of Goulandris Bros and eventually went for my Grading. went into the office with Mr Lally? showed him my papers at which he stood up sharply threw my papers back at me and shouted "it's not Grading you want but Certifying you already have seagoing time in the R.N." ending with "I will write to the nig-nog (Irish for idiot I understand, never heard the term since, I suppose it could be taken in the wrong way these days) and as I walked out of the door he said " one short trip, learn the M.N.way, save money and go for your 2nds a.s.a.p. and that was it.

Don Matheson
23rd September 2009, 21:59
Served my time on the Clyde at Stephens of Linthouse. During that time I "helped" build Sulzers and install them in ships being built. Worked in the ship repair squad ( my Grandfather had worked there. even after retiring time) and loved it.
Had all the paperwork from the yard and went to get graded. The examiner read through the papers from the yard and gave me a 1A I think it was. I had also learned to read and write and count along the way so I believe that helped. Was even asked if I had chosen a company to go to, and was offered one or two by examiner "from his contacts" he said.
Wonder what they do now.

Phil worked with a chap with the same sort of light engineering you refer to and he was super, could turn his hand to anything.
This "plus or minus a tenth of a thou" you refer to is OK for your work, but I would rather get it spot on!!!!!!!!!!!

Don

ccurtis1
24th September 2009, 10:23
Aye Geordie Chief, sounds like the same character

Strath101
24th September 2009, 11:30
My pre-sea grading report says ‘Unclassified’
Served an Engineering apprenticeship and had to get my employers to complete a DTI report titled workshop service testimonial.
The interview did not go well to start with and he firmly put you in place indicating my experience was not up to his standards but some companies would take me on and they did.

David Davies
24th September 2009, 12:13
Although I went to sea on deck eventually , on leaving school at 16 in 1948 I went to work at Messrs D H Wickams of Ware. We were building diesel railcars and locomotives, and as a side line we refurbished WW2 tanks for both the Israelis and Arabs. The first 6 months were probationary spending time in machine shop, fitting shop , foundry and inspection department. After the probationary period one went on for a further 4years insuch grades as improver etc There seemed to be 2 grades , the highest was an engineering apprenticeship for those with matric and trade apprentice for those without or just school cert, (I was trade). We were encouraged to attend night school for OND (I think) and also attended the firms school one day per week were we learnt about thread pitches etc and had to file a perfect cube. The higher grades spent time in the drawing office whilst we only learnt about 1st angle orthographic projects ions. I can not remember ever hearing about an indentured apprenticeship, one just spent so many years before being accepted as a trades man or engineer, we were also encouraged to do our national service at 18 in an engineering capacity in either RAF or Army and return to the firm on completion. I did enquirer as to whether my time spent at Wickams would qualify me to enter the MN as a junior engineer but was told only people with a marine background would be acceptable, was this correct?

chadburn
24th September 2009, 19:33
David, unfortunatly or perhaps fortunatly? it depended on which years, shipping companies could afford to "turn away" non marine apprentices because of the lads doing the 5 years at sea rather than N.S. and who had mainly marine engineering backgrounds, although that was not hard and fast. In my view BP(part Gov owned) knew long before other Companies that N.S. was going to end which is why they started their own in house Cadet training for Deck & Eng people. There was quite an exodus of Crew when N.S. ended which meant for those left of us a period of rapid promotion and the signing on of juniors with non marine engineering ( but Works based) backgrounds.

Philthechill
25th September 2009, 18:10
Served my time on the Clyde at Stephens of Linthouse. During that time I "helped" build Sulzers and install them in ships being built. Worked in the ship repair squad ( my Grandfather had worked there. even after retiring time) and loved it.
Had all the paperwork from the yard and went to get graded. The examiner read through the papers from the yard and gave me a 1A I think it was. I had also learned to read and write and count along the way so I believe that helped. Was even asked if I had chosen a company to go to, and was offered one or two by examiner "from his contacts" he said.
Wonder what they do now.

Phil worked with a chap with the same sort of light engineering you refer to and he was super, could turn his hand to anything.
This "plus or minus a tenth of a thou" you refer to is OK for your work, but I would rather get it spot on!!!!!!!!!!!

DonYour remark about getting it "spot on" reminded me of a bloke called Ted Hornby who was in charge of the apprentices at C.T.&S.

Ted was a great traditionalist letting we apprentices know, in no uncertain fashion, how lucky we were to be working for such an illustrious firm, with its International renown for great accuracy and superb workmanship. Their microscopes, gleaming black and chrome and theodolites all glossy grey and brass, nestling in their polished cabinet-maker made cabinets and held in position by saddler-fashioned leather straps were an absolute joy to look at, let alone own!!!!! (Yes they actually had saddlers and cabinet-makers on site!!!!).

One day Ted had entrusted me to do some turning (the usual +/- 1/1000") and when he asked me if it was correctly machined "to the drawing" I said, full of the cockiness of callow youth, "It's near enough Mr. Hornby" (no first names THERE!!).

You'd have thought I'd said, "Sh*t", to The Queen at his shocked response!!!!

"Near enough Roe! NEAR ENOUGH!!! We don't do NEAR ENOUGH at Cooke, Troughton and Simms!! It's either spot-on or it's scrap! Now, I repeat the question-------------".

So, Don, even though I mentioned working to "tenths of thous" the finished articles were spot-on!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Billieboy
25th September 2009, 20:51
So, Don, even though I mentioned working to "tenths of thous" the finished articles were spot-on!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

That's the way I was dragged up too Phil, Tolerances were just starting to come in about halfway through my time. As turners we used to take the size of the hole to be bushed on a sheave, whilst checking the size of the pin too if possible. If the fitter was a good bloke he had an easy pull in, if he wasn't then he had a lot of scraping to do.(Pint)

Russken40
25th September 2009, 22:40
Hi CCurtis,
I still have my grading report from April 1961, signed off by P Lally. Also remember going through to Newcastle MM Office. I don't remember having any problems with Lally, but there again it takes me all my time to remember what day it is. Just out of interest, on the rear side of the grading certificate is description for each grading. I was graded II (two), which states on the reverse that grade II applicants may be granted a remission of sea service not exceeding 3 months by virtue of his workshop service. Seems like a hundred years ago. Happy days.
Regards
Russ K (Thumb)