The sinking of the SHILLONG in 1957

greyman14
12th January 2010, 20:55
Does anyone recall the sinking of the s.s. SHILLONG in the Gulf of Suez -fully loaded- after being in Collision with the Belgian Tanker the POROFINO CONGO ?
On the night of 22nd of October 1957 having recently left the Suez Canal under the command of Capt. Jack Spurling- at 2220 the Watchkeeper made a plotted turn at Ras Gharib a Tanker joined the passage Northbound and decided to come aboard on the port side. The resulting collision caused the SHILLONG to sink in about 8o minutes taking 14 Thoroughbread Racehorses to her grave. The last time that such animals were transported for long distances by sea. All the Crew were saved and picked up by the SKOTLAND a Swedish tanker and transferred back to Port Taufiq except for 4 men the Chief Steward ,Jack French (?)2 Asian seaman and a Secunnie. Second Engr Derby injured. I was 4th mate and Richard Webb was 3rd and as i recall he helped the Aden Agent ( Passenger) remove his artificial leg to climb aboard one of two lifeboats having transferred his man from the RIB. I still hear the Emergency Alarms sounding on that still clear night .......?

onestar
13th January 2010, 10:53
I was serving aboard the Shell Tanker s.t.s. VIBEX, we were two or so southbound convoys after SHILLONG passing over the position of the sinking some 36 hours after the event. A large oil slick and minor debris floating in the water was all that remained.
I had thought that a crew member lost his life in the sinking.

greyman14
17th January 2010, 17:47
Yes indeed ONESTAR ... you are quite correct . The Chief Steward Jack French lost his life in the collision as his cabin was at the point of collision on the port side. He came from very close to where i was born and where i live now in POOLE. I recall that we had been listening to a Boxing match on the short wave radio in another cabin on the starboard side a couple of hours earlier.
What i did find strange at the time of the action - riggoig out the lifeboats and the lack of sound from the 14 Thoroughbred Horses carried in double Boxes on the after deck. The two grooms must have carried out the instruction to humanely(?) inject the animals with a lethal serum to remove the stress caused- as there was no hope for them.
Among the other three seaman injured was the Captains Tiger last seen high up and seated on the starboard light as i recall. It is very odd how one can remember things like that in a crisis - also no one knew where the key to the aft Bar door was for an up-spirits tottie !............ a lifeon the ocean wave.

onestar
17th January 2010, 20:14
Thanks for the information - sad to hear about your Chief Steward but glad that the horses had an humane end!
Collisions at sea are a very sobering event.

dmrowden
18th January 2010, 10:54
Quite a coincidence that you raised this thread at this time, as only a few days ago I was reading a description of the sinking of this ship. I understand that three lives were lost in this incident, two at the time of collision, and one later.
One of those lost was Cadet D J Palmer, who had joined Shillong having left the training ship Worcester in 1956.

As to the comment regarding the end of racehorse shipments as a result, this was obviously shortlived, as in 1961, whilst a cadet on P&Os Salsette, we carried racehorses with a groom to the Far East - Manilla I think.
Whilst not the same distances involved, we also used to carry live water buffalo and live pigs in crates (on the hatch tops) from Bangkok to Hong Kong, and we cadets had the wonderful task of feeding and watering this stock. Those were the days !

DMR

onestar
18th January 2010, 20:36
One of the other coincidences is that my wife was born in Shillong!

David Williams
18th January 2010, 20:51
Does anyone recall the sinking of the s.s. SHILLONG in the Gulf of Suez -fully loaded- after being in Collision with the Belgian Tanker the POROFINO CONGO ?
On the night of 22nd of October 1957 having recently left the Suez Canal under the command of Capt. Jack Spurling- at 2220 the Watchkeeper made a plotted turn at Ras Gharib a Tanker joined the passage Northbound and decided to come aboard on the port side. The resulting collision caused the SHILLONG to sink in about 8o minutes taking 14 Thoroughbread Racehorses to her grave. The last time that such animals were transported for long distances by sea. All the Crew were saved and picked up by the SKOTLAND a Swedish tanker and transferred back to Port Taufiq except for 4 men the Chief Steward ,Jack French (?)2 Asian seaman and a Secunnie. Second Engr Derby injured. I was 4th mate and Richard Webb was 3rd and as i recall he helped the Aden Agent ( Passenger) remove his artificial leg to climb aboard one of two lifeboats having transferred his man from the RIB. I still hear the Emergency Alarms sounding on that still clear night .......?

Hi There.
I dont know if this is of any interest,but if
you click onto SS STEAMSHIPS,then on "S"
you will finfd 3/4 photos of the SHILLONG.

Dave Williams(R583900)

Ian6
21st January 2010, 17:00
Hi, again, Greyman14

The disabled passenger assisted by Richard Webb was not the Agent from Aden but a retired bank manager from Whitby, named Robert Miller. I sailed as 4/O in Sunda (Shillong's sister-ship), in 1959, with Richard Webb (by then 2/O). Robert Miller was one of our passengers and succeeded in completing the voyage to Japan and back safely this time.
Robert Miller had lost his leg in WW1 when as a Boy Scout he was a cliff top lookout when the Germans shelled the NE coast. That loss frustrated his plans to go to sea, hence his career with Barclays Bank. I am so strangely knowledgeable about him since the R/O from Sunda (David Sercombe) and I stayed with the Millers when David got married near Whitby. Robert Miller never married but lived with his sister.
Regrads
Ian

Hugh Ferguson
21st January 2010, 18:20
There's a book about it called The Agony of Collision. I'll try to find it and give more detail.

Hugh Ferguson
21st January 2010, 19:17
There's a book about it called The Agony of Collision. I'll try to find it and give more detail.

The title of the book is:- An Agony of Collisions by Peter Padfield, published in 1966 by Hodder & Stoughton. No ISBN number.
The book contains many graphic accounts of collisions: the one recounting the Shillong/Purfina Congo covers ten pages.
Others are the British Aviator/Crystal Jewell; Andrea Doria/Stockholm; Queen Mary/ HMS Curacao and several others.

greyman14
25th January 2010, 14:36
Thank you Ian for your information regarding the disabled Passenger in SHILLONG on the night of the Collision. After all it was a long time ago and i am only relating the story as i remember - i assumed that the gentleman concerned was in fact someone by the name of Hartley ?- the P&O Aden agent at the time returning to Aden. Perhaps i was mistaken.
Roger .

greyman14
25th January 2010, 14:50
Thank you Hugh Anderson for you feedback.
I shall make a point of searching for the book - The Agony of Collision by Peter Padfield from my two nautical book suppliers. I dont have that copy. I do have the Andria Doria / Stocholm (Collision Course by Alvin Moscow) book and the Crystal Jewell in collision with a BP tanker ?. I worked for B.R. at Newhaven in 1964 and seem to remember her being beached off shore near Seaford -if i am again right!
Roger Yeatman

greyman14
25th January 2010, 14:53
Thanks Dave i will take a look at the Pictures you recommend .
Roger Yeatman.

greyman14
25th January 2010, 15:13
Hello DMR - i was delighted with your detail that you posted -very interesting .
Yes one of those of the four WAS the Apprentice Cadet John PALMER - he was one of four cadets carried in SHILLONG for that fatal voyage. Being Fourth Mate in her as i recall he should not have sailed out of LONDON. As i was Duty Officer in Albert Dock prior to sailing - he returned aboard the ship when he should have been convalescing at home (?) . His family contacted the ship as they were concerned for his whereabouts. But the young man wilfully insisted on sailing with us so he stayed aboard with the later sad consequences for his family. You see the Cadets 4 berth cabin was next door to the Chief Stewards cabin who was killed at point of collision. The bulkheads gave way trapping two of the sleeping cadets -one of whom escaped with his life through a fractured wall......leaving two fatalities. The voyage was doomed from the beginning with three other incidents beforehand
involving an Emergency ER movement and contact with the TEMPLE HALL in the Inner basin . A near miss with the MAMOTH floating Crane( alongside) in the CUT and fog in the River and a close pass in the Edinburgh Channel.!! Roger Yeatman.

BillyCrinnaz
9th April 2012, 15:56
Hi, my name is Bill Crinnion. I was Cheif Electrician on the SS Shillong.

I recall on the night, that the man with the wooden leg was retired Bank Manager, Mr. Miller whom stayed with us all the way home onboard the Kenya.

I remember your face vaguely Roger (Greyman14).

My grandson has just signed me up on this forum via an iPad, so it would be great to hear from you again. Feel free to send me a PM or report in reply.

Hopefully someone will still read or see this message as I notice the thread is about 2 years old :-/

greyman14
9th April 2012, 20:26
Thank you very much for your kind reply BILL CRINNAZ . ( former Elect. Engr . SHILLONG . I am pleasantly surprised at the interest shown thru this WEB Page in events of that night.....in 1957
I thank all the other correspondants ... and i have already picked up a copy of " An AGONY OF COLLISION" by Peter Padfield ( Amazon Books) - the most extensive story of the sinking in ten pages.
I also have copies of other books mentionned including the ANDRIA DORIA / STOCKHOLM. collision.
We were put ashore from the SKOTLAND a Danish tanker at Suez after rescue and were DBS for three days before shipping out as shipwrecked mariners on the UGANDA and feted as far as Malta and landed at Marseilles returning home on the Blue train- to Dover.
Arriving at Grosvenor House in London to be met by the families we were thanked by the Company reps with a deduction from our wages
meagre that it was then for expenses ! Sent home and returned to duty a month later ! In the true traditions of the sea. !

greyman14
9th April 2012, 20:47
One small correction - please accept my apolgy Bill Crinnion ak Bill Crinnaz . Elect. Emgr. ss SHILLONG in 1957.
Oh and thank you IAN6 ... your reply mentionned the Radio Officer in SUNDA a David SERCOMBE ... is he still sparking away ashore ?
ask him if he remembers Tony Gilham Fridge Engr. Officer and Danny BROWN ak "BRUN " who is living in Ringwood as we speak.
The black ships carried varied and different cargoes in those days before Containers when life was at best a busy one but very satisfying as a job well done which demanded a deal of skill and practice which is sadly not apparant today judging by the accidents reported in the nautical media of falling standards.(Applause)
With best regards and appreciation.Respectfully.
greyman14

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2012, 21:44
Apparently, there was a reason why the 2nd mate had been taken off the 4-8 watch and put on the 8-12, and thus became the watch-officer at the time of the collision, 22.25.

R58484956
10th April 2012, 15:56
Greetings Billy C and welcome to SN. Bon voyage.

BillyCrinnaz
26th April 2012, 22:08
I clearly remember the ship we left in Suez was the KENYA. I well remember the Captain, Chief *Officer (Mike) Mr French and cadet Palmer and 2nd Chief engineer. I recall the winchman taking off his overall and giving it to a lady passenger who was in her nightdress! We were very well looked after on the SKOTLAND.

My last voyage was in 1960 on the MVADEN. I also sailed on the sister ship SUNDA at that time. A life I loved and still miss.

I am thoroughly enjoying the feedback from you all and have ordered the book by P Padfield, whom I feel I may have met while on Dock Staff.

Thanks again Rodger,

Regards,

Bill Crinnion

peter aspinall
17th August 2012, 08:46
ian boulstridge was second mate i believe

R58484956
17th August 2012, 09:29
Greetings Peter and welcome to SN from an ex P&O engineer. Bon voyage.

Barrie Youde
17th August 2012, 09:51
Regarding valuable horses, I can confirm that the twelve horses of the Australian Olympic Show Jumping Team were carried in Blue Funnel's Jason from Sydney to Liverpool, December'59 - January '60, for the Rome Olympics. (Please don't ask me about any medals!)

I can confirm, too, the excellence of Peter Padfield's "Agony of Collisions". In 1966 (shortly after publication) Pilot Norman Morrison gave me a copy which I still have. Most valuable reading. Padfield was one of the first to alert the world to the injustice done to Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian; and his account of simple misunderstanding (as arose in the Princess Alice/Bywell Castle incident) remains salutary to the present day. Radar -assisted collisions? The understanding of them starts here. The importance of the look-out? See the Elbe/Crathie. It's all there.

Excessive speed in fog? - Freshfield/Lady Gwendolen.

A factor which might (just) be of some interest is to note that loss of life is invariably many times higher (for obvious reasons) when a ship founders on her own rather than when a collision occurs. But the collision cases invariably make for more interesting reading as they necessarily involve the the thoughts and intentions of two navigators rather than merely one.

Michael Quin-Conroy
14th November 2012, 09:45
One of the other coincidences is that my wife was born in Shillong!

I lived in Shillong for ten years over 1936-1946 and in 1955-56 sailed as an engineer on the Shillong

strathaird49
3rd May 2013, 11:55
Are you the bill crinnion who sailed on the strathaird in 1949/50

diverhans
30th June 2014, 15:33
Hello,

I'm Rene, from Germany. Unfortunately, my English is not so good. I am a semi-professional wreck diver and underwater filmmaker (documentary). In the month of August 2014, I want to make an expedition to the wreck of the P & O freighter SS "Shillong", sunk in the Red Sea,
northwest Ras Shukeir, in 1957.

My reference:

http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%9 5%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Ddvd&field-keywords=Rene+Heese&rh=n%3A284266%2Ck%3ARene+Heese

The wreck position is known to me from the wwww and a nautical chart of 1999 (WGS84).

http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fredseawreckproject.com% 2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F08%2Fshillong.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.redseawreckproject.com% 2Fred-sea-shipwreck-database%2Fs%2Fshillong%2F&h=460&w=743&tbnid=I-ryyDLme_OZNM%3A&zoom=1&docid=LPzSHSZAAkPb4M&ei=BnCxU5i7LYaXO5r_gLAB&tbm=isch&client=firefox-a&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=1034&page=1&start=0&ndsp=40&ved=0CCIQrQMwAA

Please (!). To verify the wreck position I need more details on the accident
(weather: wind direction, wind starch, flow / current direction = Drift direction of the sinking ship) . When one of the crew members (the radio officer?) - can he give me an exact position with the geodesic map system would be nice(?).
This simplifies the search.

Info like please (!) via PM at: diverhans(št)web.de

PS: I assure to uphold the necessary respect on the wreck.

Thanks in advance, regards,
and sorry for my bad english,

Rene