Deck Apprentices

jlmart
12th February 2010, 18:00
Were Deck Apprentices used as cheap labour?,rather than being given any proper training.
This did seem to be the rule on Tramp Ships,thus avoiding employing more expensive A,B's.
And when these apprentices came to sit the 2nd Mates Certificate, it was far harder for them through a lack of proper tuition,further more when they went back to sea as a qualified officer's,they had very little practical experience on the bridge,and I consider through this lack of experience, were a danger to other shipping for a period of time.as all their learning had taken place at college.
A Deck Apprentice with Reardon Smith & Qualified Mate

norman.r
12th February 2010, 18:28
Speaking as one who came through the system in the early 50's it did seem at the time to be cheap labour but we learned as time went on that we were exposed to experiences that in the future would enable us to have a better understanding of how the job worked.
Norman

B.Bass
12th February 2010, 21:01
Whilst used a bit as cheap labour we also received our fair share of bridge experience and as we were told about our deck experience"never try and get somebody to do something you hadn't done yourself"

slick
13th February 2010, 09:36
All,
I served my time with Hain's in the late 50's and was certainly used as cheap labour, however Hain's unusually paid overtime!!
When I was offered a Uncertificated Third Mates job I had to go down to the London Office and yhere I was quizzed by Captain Percy Madden in the presence of the Company Secretary a Mr. Christopher about sights and more particularly ROR, it took half an hour.
Once on the ship, Sights, Compass Errors, Weather Observations etc, were picked up or honed on the job, I have a lot to be grateful to my two mentors Mate Jack Ashbridge and Second Mate Tony Barley, my Deck skills never were questioned, that was a given.
Yours aye,

slick

onestar
13th February 2010, 09:37
I served on eight Shell tankers during my apprenticeship, and I certainly never was used or considered myself as cheap labour. All of the masters and most of the officers I sailed with took an active interest in our activities and professional development. We also had to do the MN Training Board examinations every year and the masters were given feedback from the company to pass on to us.
One second mate in particular, Mr D. A. Armstrong was excellent in this respect - he taught me how to solve spherical triangles (the PZX triangle) on an old Aristo slide rule! It was only accurate to about 5' of arc at best, but would have been useful in a lifeboat. He kindly gave me his old slide rule which I still have to this day.
We had to do regular sights, and doing a sun/run/mer alt we, had to use the traverse table from the mate's stars to get our DR position at sights, and then again for the run to noon. All checked by the mates on watch, and we had to get it right!
Maybe I was lucky, but I thought Shell was a great company in this respect.

NoR
13th February 2010, 09:52
I was used as cheap labour, I didn't mind, paid off with £177 after a 14th month trip. Got plenty of bridge experience incl going on the wheel during pilotages.

The old system was great, totally democratic remember anyone could sit for a ticket as long as medically fit with good eyesight and requisite sea time. Furthermore you didn't have to attend a grotty Nautical College if you didn't feel like it.

roddy
13th February 2010, 13:58
Were Deck Apprentices used as cheap labour?,rather than being given any proper training.
This did seem to be the rule on Tramp Ships,thus avoiding employing more expensive A,B's.
And when these apprentices came to sit the 2nd Mates Certificate, it was far harder for them through a lack of proper tuition,further more when they went back to sea as a qualified officer's,they had very little practical experience on the bridge,and I consider through this lack of experience, were a danger to other shipping for a period of time.as all their learning had taken place at college.
A Deck Apprentice with Reardon Smith & Qualified Mate

What was so different about Reardon Smith?

I have always presumed that Deck Cadets and Apprentices (call them whatever you want) in every company, carried out a broad range of seamans duties whilst being gradually introduced to the rigours of bridge watchkeeping. Many of us in the late 60's and early 70's never really finished our time, being snatched off the deck and promoted uncertificated third mate during the golden age (swansong?) of traditional cargo vessels in liner trades.

My rule of the road learning curve took place in the English Channel, and a very steep curve it turned out to be!

Replacement for AB's? Certainly not in Ben Line, an integral part of the manning structure Yes. The skills learned in these long gone days have proven themselves over the years as we continuously adapt to an ever changing industry.

Now had you aked about the use of mates instead of AB's in these more enlightened times I might have given you a different answer!

Roddy
Ben Line Cadet, now drifting towards retirement

Nick Balls
13th February 2010, 14:15
The Apprenticeships at sea were the very best way to learn ! Reading other comments I guess mine was a similar experience. It took account of the changing technology all the time . This meant that the Officers who had also come up the same way were able to do the same and learn 'on the job'
This is exactly how many modern skills (such as Modern Tanker ops or Dynamic Positioning) were originally able to function. Big problem now is that there is too much theory and not enough practical. No wonder we see so many insurance claims where lack of practical 'nous' is replaced by 'tick box culture'

Jacktar1
13th February 2010, 20:25
Served my apprenticeship with Reardon Smiths, 1948-1952, although at the time I envied the apprentice's dressed in their finery on the passenger ships and the liner trades, but at the end of my apprenticeship I considered myself in good shape when up for 2nd Mate's. On going in for orals, first question examiner asked....'Where did you serve your time ? "........I replied Reardon Smiths, his comment, thank God, heres someone at last who may know seamanship, ROR etc. !!!
Last 15 years of my sea service was as Master on cruise ships.
Cheers.....Glan(K)

Jacktar1
13th February 2010, 20:30
NoR.................wow 177 pounds ! I did a 15 month trip, paid off with 42 pounds !!!

Cheers........Glan

Hamish Mackintosh
13th February 2010, 21:28
NoR.................wow 177 pounds ! I did a 15 month trip, paid off with 42 pounds !!!

Cheers........Glan

I did nineteen months and payed off seven pounds in debt

lakercapt
13th February 2010, 22:16
I too paid off in debt after my first trip of 26 months but I had been sending an allotement home so I did have money in the bank (my mother opened an account for me)
As for cheap labour I think there has been a thread about this before but I can vouch for that being the case for me at least as only the last two was I on the bridge doing mates stuff (rest of time was to polish brass and clean)

Donald McGhee
13th February 2010, 22:27
I think you'll find that many trades, whether ashore or afloat used their apprentices as a cheap labour source. From the point of view of dishing them out when qualified it was helpful to do all the shitty jobs yourself at an early stage, so you understood what they entailed. At the time it was at times very unpleasant (bilge diving etc).
Some ship masters and mates were good at balancing deck work with bridge work and theory, some focussed entirely on one aspect to the detriment of the other. A totally different approach now and on a different planet as far as I'm concerned. There is just no comparison to what we did or were expected to do when I was at sea in the 60's and early seventies.
All in all we were cheap, but having your AB's ticket by 18 and able to do what the crew did as well as, if not better certainly held me in good stead later on.

NoR
13th February 2010, 22:29
We used to get £14 a month plus 1/9- per hour overtime although that increased to 2/4-. If you were on the 4-8 you could do 6hrs o'time per day during the week, 10hrs o'time on Saturday and 14hrs on Sunday. This worked out at 98 hrs a week. Naturally we didn't do that all the time but we sure did a lot of ovies. Oh yes in port it was 6hrs on 6hrs off 12hrs on 6hrs off 6hrs on 12hrs off..etc ..etc averaged out at 12hrs a day = 4hrs overtime per day during the week, 8hrs on Saturdays and 12hrs on Sundays.

Soon added up.

Didn't have much trouble sleeping.

Keltic Star
16th February 2010, 01:11
Nine pounds six and eight per month for my first year and no, I did not think it was slave labour. In Furness Withy & Prince Line we did all the crappy jobs and unsociable hours that the seamen with their union did not have to do, but we were treated with respect and given excellent training for the future. Furthermore, there was certainly no complaints about the food which we considered to be part of our wages.

Donald McGhee
16th February 2010, 02:32
We used to get £14 a month plus 1/9- per hour overtime although that increased to 2/4-. If you were on the 4-8 you could do 6hrs o'time per day during the week, 10hrs o'time on Saturday and 14hrs on Sunday. This worked out at 98 hrs a week. Naturally we didn't do that all the time but we sure did a lot of ovies. Oh yes in port it was 6hrs on 6hrs off 12hrs on 6hrs off 6hrs on 12hrs off..etc ..etc averaged out at 12hrs a day = 4hrs overtime per day during the week, 8hrs on Saturdays and 12hrs on Sundays.

Soon added up.

Didn't have much trouble sleeping.

Donaldsons paid 1/9p an hour too, which sure added up on the great lakes run where sleep was not on the agenda, one appie "jumping" from the foc'stle, the other on the wheel going through the canal and the locks.
I started on 19 pounds a month, all found except uniform. I still have my indentures and those of my Father who served his time with Nisbets of Glasgow. He got 5 pounds a YEAR, increasing to twenty for the last year.
No comparison. I had no complaints.

Stumps
16th March 2010, 17:43
No complaints about the British Apprentice System. It may have been somewhat archaic and had several faults but, basically overall it produced a knowledgeable , competent and efficient seaman, unlike what I now meet aboard certain flag ships where if the "manual" has been lost then forget it!

Pat Thompson
16th March 2010, 18:28
Greetings,

Reading the thread leads me to the inevitable gainsay, "Luxury, I used to dream of getting £14 per month and 1/9d overtime....we 'ad to live in a paper bag on't foc'sle working 25 hours a day, 26 when they flogged the clocks back, and't Mate would come down from't Bridge and give us a reet belting er... with his belt and afterwards we 'ad to lick the foredeck clean and then paint it using our heads fer't paintbrushes. Then, we 'ad to....


I was apprenticed to the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company in the dying days of the Tramships (1963 ~ 1967) and I would'nt swap the experience for the world. My indentures are posted in the gallery.

onestar
16th March 2010, 19:50
There seems to be two threads with identical titles - I read the other a few days back! Should they not be merged?

MFGWilliams
16th March 2010, 21:18
This is my first posting on this site so forgive me if I contravine any rules. I see from my indentures that hang on my office wall that I got 110 pounds for my first year as an apprentice in 1958.

I had joined BP Tankers and they had a fantastic Apprentice training department run by Capt Ronnie Marsh. Also most of the masters and mates were keen on training. The first master I sailed with was Capt "Winkie" R G Mott. Winkie had gone to see in sailing ships and thought every apprentice should know how to do a long splice in wire, and insisted that you did one at least once.

We worked hard during loading and tank cleaning but every day one hour was set aside for study. After your second year the apprentice spent four hours a day on bridge watch. There were examinations set every year by BP and all apprentices had to keep a journal.

There was little need to go to college prior to taking your ticket other than to brush up on the type of examination and in my case signalling.

Mike Williams

bgrace
22nd March 2010, 20:34
I was an apprentice with Chapman & Willan (Chatty Chapmans) and I wholeheartly agree with some comments that we were cheap labour and signed off as Officers with little or no navigating experience.
On my first trip which was 12 months when we got back to the UK we didn't have one of the existing AB's, EDH's etc they had either been arrested in Italy or falling down the hold while drunk or been beaten up by one another, they were a bunch of alkies, physcos and that is being generous.
The first 2 years I had a captain that was an alcoholic, we eventually on our way to Vancouver had to turn back to Japan and dump him there when he was found lying on his cabin floor in his sick and blood.
When I finished my indentures I went to Liverpool College to study for my 2nd Mates ticket, I soon realised I couldn't afford this, so I went and signed on with British and Continental as a 3rd Mate going from Liverpool to Rotterdam and Amersterdam
I had a skipper who was in his late 60's and another alcoholic, when I was on watch he left me in no doubt that he wasn't to be disturbed
One night in dense fog I knew I getting close to the Goodwin lightship, I had tried to wake Muggy but he was dead, all of a sudden on my starboard side a huge tanker was turning towards me, so I had to guess that he was able to see the lightship
Another time I was passing a fishing boat in the Channel and I was passing him om his port side, I didn't know which was the right side to pass him until they were all on deck screaming at me.
I pack the Merchant Navy after only 2 or 3 trips.

Brian

CAPTAIN JEREMY
23rd March 2010, 18:08
Having been a cadet in the 70's, I don't think I was ever used as cheap labour. However I did a lot of work on deck which may have seemed monotonous, repetative and sometimes pointless. However in later life, I have discovered that I have a better grounding in practical seamanship then many of my peers and even more so my subordinates. It has certainly stood me in good stead over the years. As a 2nd Mate, I had to splice an eye in a 26 mm wire after it parted, certainly none of the Sri Lankan deck crew could do it. As a staff captain on one cruise ship I had to teach the Bosun what a locking splice was.

I was fortunate to be given quite a lot of "Bridge time" as well and was allowed to keep a watch deep sea on Sunday mornings on my 2nd trip to sea. I was so glad that I never saw another ship during those morning watches!! I think overall, I was given a good and well balanced training, and was as prepared as anyone could be when I sat my ticket. Although I was on doubled watches as a junior 3rd Mate in P & O, in speaking to other colleagues, who went to sea on cargo ships immediately after passing their tickets, several admit to being terrified for the first wayches, especially in traffic. I don't think it was a case of being ill prepared, but being in the position that you were "responsible" for your actions.

Looking at the cadets that I have today, I am thankful for the training that I had. My company takes them from several countries, after they have completed a 3 year degree course at university. They have then to complete 12 months Sea Time before being able to get their license. There is very little seamanship on a modern ship, especially on a passenger ship. They end up working as glorified secretaries for the Staff Captain or Safety Officer. One or two show a real interest in learning more about the traditional methods of determing the ship's postion while on the bridge, but most believe that a GPS and ECDIS are all they need.

lakercapt
23rd March 2010, 21:16
On my previous post I made an error and it should have read the last two months of my time I spent on the bridge being a tag along for the second mate who was not well and could not do all the necessary watchkeeping.
Cheap labour was only the tip of the iceberg as far as my experiances were concerned.
The apprentices were the dogs bodies and sometimes the only deck crew that were sober enough to do the lowering of the derricks, battening down (with hatch boards, tarps, battens etc).
Yes we learnt the seamanship angle of the job but not so much about keeping a navigational watch

Cutsplice
23rd March 2010, 23:02
I am sure some companies used apprentices as cheap labour, when I was on deck with various companies prior to taking my exams, I did not see them being used as cheap labour. They polished the brasswork etc in the morning and generally worked around the bridge till about 1400hrs then had study periods and presented their work to the mate at 1900.
I cant recall them assisting us topping or lowering derricks, breaking the jumbo out, working aloft etc. Do recall them chipping and rope splicing with us and also wire splicing, yes they assisted me making a pilot ladder, the wire splicing was generally making preventers from old runners. During the overhauling of topping lifts I do not think they assisted in that either.
I am sure that they did experience all the general deckwork at some time during their indentures, I always found them to be very willing to learn and they always were very appreciative of anything demonstrated to them. Forgot one, streaming and hauling the log had a few of them assist me in that operation.
When I got my tickets and was in charge of cadets ships had changed, so much their was not any derricks left or jumbo,s, I think it was sad that the younger ones missed out on that experience such a rigging doubling up gear etc.

NoR
23rd March 2010, 23:23
I must say I got plenty of practice topping derricks, splicing runners, guys etc etc during my apprenticeship. Stood me in good stead in 2nd Mate's orals. The examiner knew what my employers were like so he didn't ask too many practical seamanship questions because he knew we'd done it all. He got me to rig one end of a paint stage (which I could do with eyes shut) and that was it except for a v quick canter thro Rule of the Road and buoyage and was out in 25 mins.

I hate to think what it's like now with all the H&S bullshit.

Wallyh
24th July 2010, 23:10
I served my time with a late lamented British tramp ship company, late 60's early 70's, at the time I wondered what on earth cleaning holds after the crew had cleaned them, splicing ropes and wires, being tied to a chipping hammer working all the hours god sent in order to reduce crew overtime etc would have to do with my future career. As NoR says it stood me in good stead for 2nd Mates orals, the examiner took one look at my discharge book and said as he removed the bits of rope from his desk we won't need them!

In the many years since then I have used the practical training I received during my cadetship numerous times, as deck officer, Mate, Master and as the government rep on a couple of salvage jobs. I work ashore as a Shipping Manager for a large NZ based company and I come in contact with the modern mariner frequently in the course of my work, I may be a crotchety old whatsit but I do wonder what would happen on many of these ships in the case of an emergency or something out of the ordinary happening, the people I meet are very intelligent there is no denying that but practical not a hope if it isn't shown on a monitor of some description then it doesn't register.

Soul destroying and seemingly pointless our training might have been on occasion, going to sea is still a career which needs practical people and the modern training does not produce those people, it seems to me it is producing very good technocrat who can drive a ship from A - B as long as the GPS is working buit very little else.

Wallyh

David K
9th November 2010, 21:21
.. Personally I never felt that I was used as "Cheap Labor". That being said, Apprentices, once you'd ,proved your worth, were very handy to "Fill In" as required. It was a tenant of Life that an Apprentice had to be able to do anything an AB could do, do it better and quicker. It was not at all uncommon to have to fill in for an Inebriated Mate, or take the place of an AB that was too P....d to safely work the Lines when "sailing". The routine Maintenance for the Bridge and Monkey Island, fell to the Apprentices, and along the way, 'Mates would take the time out to Teach/Talk. And, standing Watches did definitely form part of the Learning Curve ! Anchor Watches provided another source of learning Responsibility! Extra Money ( Much needed Cash ! ) was earned by "Filling in" for the Carpenter, or Gangway Watchman in Port, and Anchor Watches for the Mates, who would "grab some sleep" and Pay the Apprentice(s). ....... Being able to confidently operate Cargo Winches, inspect Cables for wear and being able to quickly spot safety hazards stood me in good stead when I did sign on as 3rd.Mate, and I took pride, in when working Cargo, it was done efficiently, and with NO Injuries! ( Preventative maintenance being done during Lunch Breaks). All in all, I got a very good and sound grounding in Coastal Navigation and Cargo work, using the Ships own Equipment, and more importantly perhaps, having the confidence to issue Directions to much older Stevedores and Crew, and have them carried out with no resentment. ...... David K

BarnacleGrim
9th November 2010, 23:42
That's the idea.

Part of being an apprentice is being immersed in every department, learning how the crew communicates, what attitudes they have towards one another, etc. Knowing how the crew works is just as important as knowing how the machinery works, you're not sitting on a bridge on top of a big black box.

Soul destroying and seemingly pointless our training might have been on occasion, going to sea is still a career which needs practical people and the modern training does not produce those people, it seems to me it is producing very good technocrat who can drive a ship from A - B as long as the GPS is working buit very little else.

Wallyh
There is always someone who is content at doing the absolute minimum to getting the papers, only to spend a lifetime pushing buttons going from A to B. Those who are truly interested in shipping and seamanship will have no problem excelling in astronav, for instance.

I don't think modern training is as much at fault for this as the increasingly common attitude that it's "just another regular office job". Shanties, stories, etc. are forgotten, and we're taking to driving around on the water, parking, and having boxes put in.

CAPTAIN JEREMY
10th November 2010, 12:04
That's the idea.

Part of being an apprentice is being immersed in every department, learning how the crew communicates, what attitudes they have towards one another, etc. Knowing how the crew works is just as important as knowing how the machinery works, you're not sitting on a bridge on top of a big black box.


There is always someone who is content at doing the absolute minimum to getting the papers, only to spend a lifetime pushing buttons going from A to B. Those who are truly interested in shipping and seamanship will have no problem excelling in astronav, for instance.

I don't think modern training is as much at fault for this as the increasingly common attitude that it's "just another regular office job". Shanties, stories, etc. are forgotten, and we're taking to driving around on the water, parking, and having boxes put in.

One of the problems is that the job has changed to a certain extent. Modern ships don't have the same opportunities to learn practical seamanship that we had when we went to sea. Nor can they see the need for it. At the end of the day, seafaring is a practical occupation, and much of that is based on common sense. In many countries nowadays, they compete a Bachelor's degree in Marine transportation or similar before they ever set foot on a ship. Their impression of work on board ship is to remain in an air conditioned environment with a computer and GPS to get the job done.

Whereas it may have seemed arduous and pointless at the time, doing many menial jobs as a cadet, over the years I have come to realise the value of that education, having gained a good understanding of the basics of seamanship and maintenance.

Nick Balls
10th November 2010, 12:21
Unfortunately that is precisely the problem today............ little common sense.
We are now seeing countless examples of accidents and incidents that revolve around a lack of basic 'Seamanship' and bad practice. None of us I am sure would want to go backwards but that basic hands on knowledge is fundamental to all that follows. Recent common accidents , such as davit failure, anchoring , and misuse of GPS/ECDIS can in many cases be traced back to a serious lack of understanding and over reliance on theory rather than practice.

BarnacleGrim
10th November 2010, 13:18
I wonder if a family history in shipping makes a big difference in interest in old-fashioned seamanship.

Speaking of technology, I find ECDIS systems, some brands in particular, extremely frustrating to use because they are so out of touch with the real world. Lack of readability when dimmed is one example. Don't even mention sticky trackballs (made obsolete by trackpads 15 years ago) and non-standard user interfaces.

Alistair Macnab
10th November 2010, 13:50
Did he jump or was he pushed?

There's some room for discussion on the motivation of a young man wanting to go to sea in the first place. For some, there might have been a family or business tradition but for many others, it was a deep-down driving force that compelled the youngster towards seafaring.

In my own case, from the age of 12, I had a desire to go to sea but had no idea how I could achieve this purpose. There was a romance about ships and shipping that was most compelling. I was drawn to the Clyde steamers to stooge around the Firth with a student runabout ticket, I was a sea cadet, I lapped up "The Cruel Sea" and "A Night to Remember" movies... I was hooked, long before I knew or understood that there was a career structure waiting for me in the British Merchant Navy.

When I asked the school careers master about such a career, I was told that he had something somewhere in his material from the Shipping Federation but that was all. He and my family acted as if I would 'grow out of it' rather like wanting to be an engine driver or a fireman.

Well, anyway, I was eventually apprenticed to a well-known shipping and trading company and, as they say, the rest is history. Nearly sixty years later, I look back on the best decision in my life I made, and marvel at my tenacity in getting my own way.

And I was not disappointed on joining my first ship. It was a thrill to be going up that gangway in full blues uniform and although subsequently, a pair of cut off jeans and a T-shirt would be my garb as I grubbed about in deeptanks or bilges and took a lot of agro from a nut case Mate, the friendships and memories remain of a life well lived. Seeing the world; Experiencing life; Growing up!

Mid 20th Century Century Apprenticeship was the making of me! And, I suspect, its the same story for many others.

CAPTAIN JEREMY
10th November 2010, 14:55
Unfortunately that is precisely the problem today............ little common sense.
We are now seeing countless examples of accidents and incidents that revolve around a lack of basic 'Seamanship' and bad practice. None of us I am sure would want to go backwards but that basic hands on knowledge is fundamental to all that follows. Recent common accidents , such as davit failure, anchoring , and misuse of GPS/ECDIS can in many cases be traced back to a serious lack of understanding and over reliance on theory rather than practice.

I recall walking onto the bridge for an arrival in St Maarten one morning. The OOW was sitting in the "driving seat" with the Radar display in front of him, and the "C Map" electronic chart display at 45 degrees on the stbd side of the radar. This was a "cockpit" configuration with NACOS Integrated Bridge System, although the autopilot was not running in the integrated mode. Looking out of the windows it was clear that something was not quite right. Checking the radar display and the "C Map" display it was clear to see that they were displaying different pictures. The OOW was relying totally on the Electronic chart and had failed to notice that the position indicated did not match what was to be seen on both the radar display and by looking out of the windows. A quick fix on the paper chart showed that the ship was well off track, and heading towards Proselyte Reef. A substantial alteration of course was able to quickly remedy the situation.

The cause of the problem was the OOW's complete reliance on the Electronic chart (contrary to my standing orders) without considering the possible shortcomings. The Electronic chart had dropped out of GPS mode and was running on DR mode. (Somewhat similar to the events leading up to the grounding of the Royal Majesty on the Rose & Crown Shoal in 1995). If he had noticed that the headland that was almost abeam on the electronic chart was at about 4 points on the radar and when viewed through the windows he might have worked out there was something wrong. I am a firm believer that if it doesn't look or feel right, it probably isn't right.

I was chatting with one of the senior managers of my company recently, who had recently attended an ECDIS course. He was somewhat concerned about reliance on the ECDIS and asked my opinion on whether we are likely to see ECDIS assisted groundings in the future. Sad to say it has already happened and will continue to happen.

Alistair Macnab
10th November 2010, 15:41
Perhaps I should have continued my earlier contribution to comment on contemporary seagoing careers and preparation and training for them.

From what I read in this site, I would be a fish out of water on today's ships but I make no apology! Last evening, an ancient mariner of nearly my vintage and I were looking back on what it used to be like and what it now is.

On the third scotch (Edradour 10) we firmly decided that going to sea today would not attract the sort of young man who was smitten all these years ago, but would be attractive to a completely different sort of fellow of a type we don't understand.

What are we to do with today's romantic dreamers? They must exist! Not everybody wants to master the technicalities of an electronic machine. Some young men must still envisage lying off a faraway tropic isle, fanned by the dying evening breeze at the end of a hard day's cargo work with a cool beer in hand and the prospect of a relaxing run ashore.
Not everyone wants to swan around in a white boiler suit with the company's logo blazened on the shoulder. We were never 'technicians'; we were seamen! Or as apprentices, seamen in the making!

Nick Balls
10th November 2010, 16:03
Plenty of keen young people still out there! Only they now have a problem of not being taught by a large enough pool of experienced people. Give them a chance and (a occasional shove) and most of them love the practical side.

NoR
10th November 2010, 18:21
Served my time with Lyles as a cadet. Cadets didn't sign indentures just signed on from trip to trip. Did plenty of Bridge Watch keeping so could take a sight and keep a watch by my second year. Cadets got paid overtime as well, though less than the ABs. Can't complain at all about my treatment, worked some horrendous hours, but learned the job. They were good days (mostly).

lakercapt
11th November 2010, 03:10
Reading the posts it would seem that the "Tramping" companies were the ones that treated their apprentices in an all together different fashion.
Even in my own experience it would be safe to say that how you were regarded was in the hands of the master and 1st mate.
Other apprentices in the same company had a more positive shipboard experience and enjoyed their time. Alas I would have quite after my first trip but after putting that much time into it I was told that it would be better from then on. (course the prospect of being conscripted and doing time in the army do not have any appeal either)
That was not the case and after another long trip I only had a couple of months to complete my time. Stuck it out but I still to this day resent the treatment meted out to the apprentices on the first two ships I was on. Last ship was for two months and as I mentioned in a prior post the only one where I gained any bridge time other than as a helmsman or cleaner.

BarnacleGrim
11th November 2010, 09:31
What are we to do with today's romantic dreamers? They must exist! Not everybody wants to master the technicalities of an electronic machine. Some young men must still envisage lying off a faraway tropic isle, fanned by the dying evening breeze at the end of a hard day's cargo work with a cool beer in hand and the prospect of a relaxing run ashore.
Not everyone wants to swan around in a white boiler suit with the company's logo blazened on the shoulder. We were never 'technicians'; we were seamen! Or as apprentices, seamen in the making!
*enthusiastically raising arm from fourth row of lecture theatre*

Plenty of keen young people still out there! Only they now have a problem of not being taught by a large enough pool of experienced people. Give them a chance and (a occasional shove) and most of them love the practical side.
I've met several mates with a passion for teaching the good old ways to apprentices like myself, but I've met just as many "technicians" who couldn't care less about teaching, just signing off tasks, putting the apprentice in charge of the watch and retiring to a tabloid paper. We may be on the top end of a slippery slope.

Glyn Howell
11th November 2010, 12:22
*enthusiastically raising arm from fourth row of lecture theatre*


I've met several mates with a passion for teaching the good old ways to apprentices like myself, but I've met just as many "technicians" who couldn't care less about teaching, just signing off tasks, putting the apprentice in charge of the watch and retiring to a tabloid paper. We may be on the top end of a slippery slope.

I have just discovered this thread and have read all of the comments. I joined my first ship the Hyalina, an Anglo Saxon Pet. Tanker in 1952 on £7 10s a month as a deck apprentice. I was away for seventeen months. Were we used as cheap labour? most likely as we did do tank diving on saturdays and sundays with no overtime. We were neither officers nor AB's but being with the bosun and storekeeper we learnt about mixing paints, how much was used to paint the side of the ship, and then working with the crew we learnt how long it took, the clever moves to cut the time down, how valuable "job and finish was". When crew jumped ship in Australia and such like we formed the wheel watch, especially 8-12 as we could then come out after dinner, but it was all in the learning curve on the path to Master. Only one chief officer in four years allowed proper instruction in Seamanship, Navigation and "Science and Maths" this was taken by a matr with and Extra Master's ticket, his name was Mr Diston, who eventually became an Examiner of Maters and Mates, he even had us working out the thrust required to put an object into space saying if you can do that you can pass the 2nd mates ticket.
In later years I saw one of the first Female apprentices interviewed who stated that "she was not too interested on chipping and painting but would be soon on the bridge which is what she was interested in" I felt so sad about this. Still, I've been retired now for 10 years, and we should not pay too much attention to our todays and yesterdays or we will forget our futures. Glyn

David K
11th November 2010, 19:13
... Perhaps it's really the "Lack of Opportunities" that is the problem. With the advent of Container's and I suppose even the "Super tankers' that sounded the "Death Knell" for Traditional Seamanship. Long gone are the days of the Tramp Steamers, and what were formerly "Exotic ports of Call are either dead and long gone or have become metropolises. Just as GPS was a the final straw leading to the Neglect of Traditional Celestial Navigation and the Sextant. And that was arguably preceded by the Improvements and more readily available Radar sets supplanted Traditional Chart-work. Times and tools change, and perhaps not all Changes are for the better when Character Building are factored into the equation. ....... Although I feel reasonably confident that I could find my way around one of the "Old Trampers" Bridge and Cargo Gear, and even use a Sextant, Parallel Rules and Pencil, for Coastal Navigation, I'd be lost on the Bridge of a Modern Container ship, let alone a Cruise Ship ! ..... Even though I've gone through a Second Career that really was exciting and for the most part fun, and having owned a wooden sail boat, retired now and living a long way from the sea, surrounded by Mountain's now and a nearby, large lake, I still occasionally hear the "Siren Song of the Sea" and yearn for lost Horizons ! .... David K

dundalkie
11th November 2010, 20:48
yes, we were used as cheap labour by most mates in the company I was indentured to. The nearest I got to chartwork in my first two years was giving the second his cup of tea whilst he was correcting charts.the advent of information technology (computers) has changed everything. Information could be had at the touch of a key. its not only at sea that this happened. People with a good knowledge of how to operate the technology could (and did) do jobs that previously took training and time to master. hence the cutest ones moved up and the plodders were left. its all coming home to roost now. As we plodders retire the knowledge goes with us. would I do it all over again, yes I probabily would. Even when up to my armpits in s*** some wag always had a funny take on it and the craic was ninty as we say in these parts.

bev summerill
14th January 2011, 14:26
[/QUOTE]

I served my time with Bristol City line 1960-63 I was cheap labour. The only watch keeping I did was on the wheel and as lookout we kept the 4-8 watch usually. Ihave no regrets as I knew how long jobs for the crowd should take as I had done it all myself.
It was a shock though keeping my first watch as 3rd mate with EDs in the channel but I soon learnt.I did not know until then how good some companies were at training their lads

Bev Summerill

markjackn
27th December 2012, 06:43
Whilst used a bit as cheap labour we also received our fair share of bridge experience and as we were told about our deck experience"never try and get somebody to do something you hadn't done yourself"

Leratty
27th December 2012, 10:53
Wallah you are quite right as to 'practical experience' did not feel I was cheap labour of course understood I was as useful as boobs on a bull although I did but one year as a Ap then went on deck. Yes we were put through what I would call a lot of B/S however the deck work was well worth it during that time. Yes we Aps hated chipping & soaging sic both mind numbing. I found in my profession when I left the sea, mining-civil engineering later in life that those who had had practical experience often as opposed to those with a degree (am bemused that now there is a degree for deck officers?) were so much more suited to our work. I have mentioned in previous posts that I would often employ a non degreed person (mostly mature) from within the industry to take up site managers jobs & pay them the going salary too. Particularly remote ones as they were so much more resourceful as well as able-prepared to utilise their initiative, equally importantly could show by example the local crew what was required & do it themselves if required from splicing wire through to setting up a blast in open cut . It is a bad situation we do not for many employment areas still have Ap's, we suffer from it in many differing areas of the essential trades. Richard

oldman 80
27th December 2012, 23:47
Hmm - an interesting string for sure.
I served my deck cadet apprenticeship working under the Bosun - all of it.
There was no job I couldn't do - at the end of it, and a damned sight faster than an elderly A.B.
Yes I was cheap labour, no doubt about it.
4-8 sea watches (wheel,lookout,"farmer") followed by a full "field day" on deck, all on less than Twenty U.K. Pounds per month.
My first bridge watch was as 3rd Mate entering Dover Straights outbound (ex Hull) in dense fog. I was left on my own as the oldman went to his bed having been up in the fog since departing the Humber. There was no traffic separation scheme in those days - it was chaotic - to say the least.
However, somehow I managed, but I do recall feeling very uncomfortable, even shaking with fear or anxiety at times.
Beginners luck - yes that was a part of it too.
By the time we were inbound again, about three months later, I was watchkeeping without anxiety - and with reasonable confidence.
Looking back today, I have no regrets about my apprenticeship/cadetship, none at all - it stood me in great stead throughout my seafaring career.
There was no job I couldn't do, and perhaps more importantly I never forgot what the "Bad Jobs" were like to perform, and always took that into detailed consideration especially when Chief Officer and Master.
That was probably the best benefit from my apprenticeship days, as well as I never asked anyone to do anything I was not able to do myself, or was not prepared to do myself - and on many occassions, I did.
That factor paid dividends over and over again - I always had great crews, the very very finest, I suggest.
Shipmasters of today should perhaps take note - you may be the Master, but you still have to get dirty sometimes, even quite frequently, on some types of vessels. (Particularly so, with reduced manning levels)
You are not doing your job - if you don't.
The same goes for Chief Engineers.
That is a personal opinion - nothing else.
(Fly)


Edit:- Ref:- "and a damned sight faster than an elderly A.B."(above). That should probably include the words - "with the exception of wire splicing" - the old guys could be pretty fast when it came to that.
AND, I was never on tramps - cargo liner- that's what I was, as an apprentice - and through to 2nd Mate.

chadburn
28th December 2012, 14:11
If you don't continue to use the skill's you lose them, certainly when it come's to Engineering and certainly expected when working for a Foreign Flag which is why they employ you on top money plus incentive's.(*))

jimthehat
28th December 2012, 14:44
I wonder which company paid the lowest wages to an app in the early 50s.
I joined the Maplebank in Aug 1952 and I was paid the grand sum of£5.16.8 per month(just checked my indentures).The three junior apps were handed over to the bosun and that was that for 18 months,I was put on the 8-12 and was second wheel on my forth day on board,nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.

jim

Leratty
28th December 2012, 15:16
Oldman80, I too found the Lampy & Bosun the best tutors the ones I encountered were real mentors one I still remember with great affection a Maltese & hard hard man. This was both when an Ap as well as when on deck, I reckon as you showed you wished to learn that was why the took the time to teach you. It was a Bosun who taught me to wire splice which came in very handy on some sites later on in life as few could.
Chadburn went to do a back splice about a year ago on the boat & for the life of me could no remember the knot we started off with felt quite an idiot!
Jimthehat 12 pound a month Fed Steam + the parents paid for the uniforms. Then on deck as EDH 18-20 I recall? Believe I was on around 50+ as AB with overtime a lot more when I said good bye to the sea. Richard

joebuckham
28th December 2012, 15:43
albyn line (thistle boats)conditions were entirely down to the mate of the day, but the company salved their conscienceof allowing a mainly slave labour regime to run in their ships in that we had yearly exams courtesy of the merchant navy training board and the company gave prizes to encourage their young gentlemen to study in their own time if any became available.
first year £25, second year a sextant, and third year binoculars if the same standards were achieved as in the bot exams 70% average with some exams where 70% was the bench mark. i was given a very good grounding in seamanship and practicality by the various bosuns and old sailors, and the older second mates and mates. one mate however will forever stick in my mind, denis (happy) holiday, who for six months plus had me scraping, sanding, oiling, sanding, varnishing and if i attempted to give anyone a hand with non teak refurbishment jobs he was on me like a ton of bricks. i expect that, when the port curtis went to the breakers, there were fights over who was taking the woodwork home

oldman 80
28th December 2012, 23:33
Oldman80, I too found the Lampy & Bosun the best tutors the ones I encountered were real mentors one I still remember with great affection a Maltese & hard hard man. This was both when an Ap as well as when on deck, I reckon as you showed you wished to learn that was why the took the time to teach you. It was a Bosun who taught me to wire splice which came in very handy on some sites later on in life as few could.
Chadburn went to do a back splice about a year ago on the boat & for the life of me could no remember the knot we started off with felt quite an idiot!
Jimthehat 12 pound a month Fed Steam + the parents paid for the uniforms. Then on deck as EDH 18-20 I recall? Believe I was on around 50+ as AB with overtime a lot more when I said good bye to the sea. Richard

Yes the Bosuns, Carpenters and AB's of old, were the greatest mentors of them all, but of course what also played a role was the fact that when I was cadet, most Masters, in fact nearly all, had dragged themselves up from the foclse, - done it the hard way so to speak. (ex WW.II. Convoys and sinkings) They too, in their own particular way, where great mentors also - "We did it the hard way - so why shouldn't you ". However, at the same time, they "looked after us" - without any pampering - very much the opposite - I suppose.
I have no regrets at being "their victim" - none at all.

ninabaker
28th December 2012, 23:37
BP in 1972 I wa earning £44 a month as a first year cadet. I think that first year working pretty much with the crew was an essential start for anyone aiming to be an officer. Steering, lookout, soojeying, chipping, painting, tank cleaning (oh dear god that was awful), valve-setting and all the rest of it, cannot be learnt from books. As others have noted, the best tuition was from the older ABs, actually most of the bosuns were not that good on the ships I was on, for some reason. An old AB on my first ship taught me to do BoT wire splices - I think we must have done over a dozen, for something or other for all the lifeboats. I was a wizz at them which was marvellous when I was back at college and had to do them for the EDH test. Hilarious to watch my class colleagues fighting the wire like it was a fistful of anacondas!

Yes it was hard physical work, and I once calculated that I was probably eating something like 4,000 calories a day at that time, but you have to know the work to get someone else to do it later on.

oldman 80
28th December 2012, 23:50
BP in 1972 I wa earning £44 a month as a first year cadet. I think that first year working pretty much with the crew was an essential start for anyone aiming to be an officer. Steering, lookout, soojeying, chipping, painting, tank cleaning (oh dear god that was awful), valve-setting and all the rest of it, cannot be learnt from books. As others have noted, the best tuition was from the older ABs, actually most of the bosuns were not that good on the ships I was on, for some reason. An old AB on my first ship taught me to do BoT wire splices - I think we must have done over a dozen, for something or other for all the lifeboats. I was a wizz at them which was marvellous when I was back at college and had to do them for the EDH test. Hilarious to watch my class colleagues fighting the wire like it was a fistful of anacondas!

Yes it was hard physical work, and I once calculated that I was probably eating something like 4,000 calories a day at that time, but you have to know the work to get someone else to do it later on.

Good Posting Nina.
Sadly you were with the wrong company as an apprentice - Cargo Liners - were the best for great seamanship training.
In Port wire splicing was going on every day, and night, there was always a cargo runner, bull wire or something similar - to be repaired in a hurry.
Rope slings too - splicing never seemed to stop.

I don't think we got 4000 calories a day, but more than 2000 , - I'd say.(Eat)

lakercapt
29th December 2012, 02:13
I wonder which company paid the lowest wages to an app in the early 50s.
I joined the Maplebank in Aug 1952 and I was paid the grand sum of£5.16.8 per month(just checked my indentures).The three junior apps were handed over to the bosun and that was that for 18 months,I was put on the 8-12 and was second wheel on my forth day on board,nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.

jim

Just checked mine and we were paid the princely sum of 7 pounds 10 shilling a month so we were richer that you in Ropners.
On day work with the bosun until I learned to steer and then on watches
The 12/4 was not too bad and being "Farmer" you had to know how to do a fry up for the blackpan./

woodend
29th December 2012, 06:45
I have just checked my indentures and my salary did not even double in the four years! It went from from 8 GBP per month in the first year to 12 GBP in the fourth year. However we always had money in our pockets. If it wasn't well bolted or well tied down it was ours! We were however well trained! I well remember the infamous Capt. Fletcher asking me which Company I was with and when I answered E.D.'s he said 'I won't need to ask you anything about deck cargoes and cargo gear then!'

slick
29th December 2012, 08:07
All,
One of the more pleasant windfalls as an Apprentice was to have your Indenture completed whilst away on a voyage, oh, joy of joys to be called to the old man's Cabin be signed on as an AB for the rest of the trip.
5/9d an hour Overtime!!

Yours aye,

slick

Graham the pipe
29th December 2012, 13:48
I have just checked my indentures and my salary did not even double in the four years! It went from from 8 GBP per month in the first year to 12 GBP in the fourth year. However we always had money in our pockets. If it wasn't well bolted or well tied down it was ours! We were however well trained! I well remember the infamous Capt. Fletcher asking me which Company I was with and when I answered E.D.'s he said 'I won't need to ask you anything about deck cargoes and cargo gear then!'

Trust my 'Heading/Title' conveys my thoughts JW?

Graham the pipe
29th December 2012, 14:07
Having read and left a brief comment on my 'old mate' JW's entry of this morning, I have to say that EDs may have been known as the 'Monkey Boats' but their ape(rentices), although as appropriate, paid peanuts were known, to BOT examiners, to be 'well trained'.

Malky Glaister
29th December 2012, 14:16
I noticed a definite change at the end of the eighties. Most of these lads, deck and engine came onboard with half their certificates and no real interest in practicalities. Some full of s**T altogether.

Splices were not allowed! Slings had to be certified blah blah and no Bosuns, Chippies or pumpmen to learn anything from.

No doubt the Officers were produced I don't know.

I do know that on my last two ships I had to do everything in the pit and deck which peed me off and I was very glad to retire.

Those old seamen new an awful lot which has now been forgotten.

Incidently I used to splice my narrowboat mooring lines which a lot of boaters found incredible!!!

regards

Malky

oldseamerchant
29th December 2012, 14:24
I have just checked my indentures and my salary did not even double in the four years! It went from from 8 GBP per month in the first year to 12 GBP in the fourth year. However we always had money in our pockets. If it wasn't well bolted or well tied down it was ours! We were however well trained! I well remember the infamous Capt. Fletcher asking me which Company I was with and when I answered E.D.'s he said 'I won't need to ask you anything about deck cargoes and cargo gear then!'

Fletcher was a Lamport & Holt man was he not?

lakercapt
29th December 2012, 15:14
Fletcher was a Lamport & Holt man was he not?

As an examiner of Masters and Mates he had a very reputation for being difficult to please to say the least.

woodend
29th December 2012, 15:44
This mention of Captain Fletcher just brought back another memory of him. I was waiting to put my 'papers' in for Masters in 1964. It was Second Mates orals day. There was one youngster waiting in full 'Teddy Boy' rig. I asked the Clerk who was examining and was told Captain Fletcher. This could be nasty I thought. Sure enough in goes the youngster and within minutes he is out again with six months sea time! They were all told to wear a blazer and flannels says the Clerk!

oldman 80
30th December 2012, 00:09
I noticed a definite change at the end of the eighties. Most of these lads, deck and engine came onboard with half their certificates and no real interest in practicalities. Some full of s**T altogether.

Splices were not allowed! Slings had to be certified blah blah and no Bosuns, Chippies or pumpmen to learn anything from.

No doubt the Officers were produced I don't know.

I do know that on my last two ships I had to do everything in the pit and deck which peed me off and I was very glad to retire.

Those old seamen new an awful lot which has now been forgotten.

Incidently I used to splice my narrowboat mooring lines which a lot of boaters found incredible!!!

regards

Malky


(Wave)
Some comments:-

You will be "right on the button" with that one.

The result of lobbyists - I was never convinced the "swagged" compression "splice" was better than the conventional wire splice, especially when exposed to the marine environment. What's going on inside it ? With conventional splices you could see.

One or two designated deck engineers would have been appropriate in that case - I believe. I was promised one back in 1980 - at a special meeting in head office, and on that assurance agreed to the removal of the pumpman, and 1 of three mechanics - it was a promise which was never honoured. DSM were changing, the old reliable, honerable types, were leaving or dying ( McKelvie, Airey & Cowie for example) . "Glad to retire" - a sensible decision - I suggest.

Well absolutely and there is no appropriate mentor/ tutor/ instructor/ lecturer base anymore - or not enough of them - they're dying out rapidly - the few who may remain.

A narrow boat - WOW what an appropriate acquisition for a retired Chief Engineer (Junior or Senior) Tell us more - got any photo's ? Steam or Motor etc. ?
Those Austarc 12P's will solve many a problem on there - with ease - for sure, in a jiffy - just like that !!!

And - yet again, What about the quiz Malky ? (Sea Shanties ???? (*)))

Happy New Year everybody !!
(Pint)

oldman 80
30th December 2012, 00:58
Good Posting Nina.
Sadly you were with the wrong company as an apprentice - Cargo Liners - were the best for great seamanship training.
In Port wire splicing was going on every day, and night, there was always a cargo runner, bull wire or something similar - to be repaired in a hurry.
Rope slings too - splicing never seemed to stop.

I don't think we got 4000 calories a day, but more than 2000 , - I'd say.(Eat)



For some reason or other I am unable to edit my previous post, so I'll just have to "Quote" it instead.

Ref:- Calories Consumed :- It was probably 3000, me thinks, as long life milk had not yet been invented . Instead we had lashings of Carnation Sweetened Condensed stuff - in tins - it was a favourite I think.

NoR
30th December 2012, 11:26
Ref:- Calories Consumed :- It was probably 3000, me thinks, as long life milk had not yet been invented . Instead we had lashings of Carnation Sweetened Condensed stuff - in tins - it was a favourite I think.

Yes, I recall pint mugs with the Co house flag, 4 sugars and condensed milk, smoko at No 4 hatch and a fresh roll if the 2nd cook had done the baking.
I wish I'd liberated one of those mugs........and a barometer, brass clock, log spinner. The only thing I liberated and by accident was a cabin key complete with brass tally saying '3rd Officer'. The door it unlocked went to the breakers in 1980.

oldseamerchant
30th December 2012, 12:11
This mention of Captain Fletcher just brought back another memory of him. I was waiting to put my 'papers' in for Masters in 1964. It was Second Mates orals day. There was one youngster waiting in full 'Teddy Boy' rig. I asked the Clerk who was examining and was told Captain Fletcher. This could be nasty I thought. Sure enough in goes the youngster and within minutes he is out again with six months sea time! They were all told to wear a blazer and flannels says the Clerk!

There was one doing the rounds in the mid late 1960s where a Blue Flu middy tried to put Fletcher right about the follies of 'how's she heading'.

Ended up with 6 months sea time for his troubles.B\)

oldman 80
30th December 2012, 12:45
Yes, I recall pint mugs with the Co house flag, 4 sugars and condensed milk, smoko at No 4 hatch and a fresh roll if the 2nd cook had done the baking.
I wish I'd liberated one of those mugs........and a barometer, brass clock, log spinner. The only thing I liberated and by accident was a cabin key complete with brass tally saying '3rd Officer'. The door it unlocked went to the breakers in 1980.

Aye - those were the days - so they were !!!

ninabaker
30th December 2012, 13:30
Good Posting Nina.
Sadly you were with the wrong company as an apprentice - Cargo Liners - were the best for great seamanship training.
In Port wire splicing was going on every day, and night, there was always a cargo runner, bull wire or something similar - to be repaired in a hurry.
Rope slings too - splicing never seemed to stop.

I don't think we got 4000 calories a day, but more than 2000 , - I'd say.(Eat)

Hi Oldnab80,
I dont disagree about the benefits of a cargo ship training but when I was trying to find a company to take me on, I was wheeled round a number of possible companies by the guy at the shipping federation who had made it his mission to find someone willing to take the first female deck cadet*. In the end, BP was willing and I was desperate to go to sea any old how, so I took what was offered. All things considered, I think BP did very well by me and I got a good training in so far as possible given the restricted variety of being on tankers. BP were pretty good on the training side as the national MNTB scheme in use for cadets was directly lifted from the one that BP designed and had in use for some years in the 60s.

I was lucky to be on some of their older ships where even the slightest amount of trad skills were still needed, such as the splicing and things like maintenance of deck machinery and so on.

*Yes I know that DSM had a female officer a couple of years before me but she didnt do the normal cadet entry training, but did the degree route.

Stephen J. Card
30th December 2012, 13:31
I was before Captain Fletcher twice... for Mate (Home Trade) and 2nd Mate FG. About a month before 2/M I went up and sat for Mate HT... just to get a feel for the exam room and the proceedures... and just in case I did not get through 2/M!

Fletcher demanded what a young apprentice was doing sitting a HT ticket. I gave him my reasons and he was quite happy with that. A month later I breezed through 2/M orals as he remembered me and he had already asked most of the general questions.

The only glitch in the Mate HT orals was, "OK, you are mate on the ship, what are you going to do go prepare for sea?" I started to run through all that had to be done. The more I said, the bigger his smile got. I got the feeling that I was digging a very deep hole. Finally he stopped me and asked, "What size was your last ship?" Me... proudily, "Two hundred and sixty thousand tonnes, Sir." "Well boy, all that you said is fine on a big supertanker but you can forget all that when you are on a 500 tonne coaster!"

Yes, Fletcher's reputation was well known... I guess I got off lightly. Must have been the haircut, blazer, flannels and polished shores! Used the same trick to get off jury duty a few years ago.

Stephen J. Card
30th December 2012, 13:38
[QUOTE=ninabaker;

*Yes I know that DSM had a female officer a couple of years before me but she didnt do the normal cadet entry training, but did the degree route

.[/QUOTE]


Nina,

That would be Sheila Edmonson. To my knowledge she was the first female cadet and she was very much a 'normal' cadet. I believe she did OND. Her training was no different from any other OND cadet. I don't think the degree route existed when she started in 1969.

Stephen

oldman 80
30th December 2012, 13:39
Hi Oldnab80,
I dont disagree about the benefits of a cargo ship training but when I was trying to find a company to take me on, I was wheeled round a number of possible companies by the guy at the shipping federation who had made it his mission to find someone willing to take the first female deck cadet*. In the end, BP was willing and I was desperate to go to sea any old how, so I took what was offered. All things considered, I think BP did very well by me and I got a good training in so far as possible given the restricted variety of being on tankers. BP were pretty good on the training side as the national MNTB scheme in use for cadets was directly lifted from the one that BP designed and had in use for some years in the 60s.

I was lucky to be on some of their older ships where even the slightest amount of trad skills were still needed, such as the splicing and things like maintenance of deck machinery and so on.

*Yes I know that DSM had a female officer a couple of years before me but she didnt do the normal cadet entry training, but did the degree route.

Hi Nina, Sounds like that Shipping Federation guy was a pretty decent bloke. A lot of them were, I recall. Very well intentioned - in the main. (Flowers)

Edit:- P.S. I did not serve my cadetship with Denholm - joined them much later.

oldseamerchant
30th December 2012, 14:26
Hi Oldnab80,
I dont disagree about the benefits of a cargo ship training but when I was trying to find a company to take me on, I was wheeled round a number of possible companies by the guy at the shipping federation who had made it his mission to find someone willing to take the first female deck cadet*. In the end, BP was willing and I was desperate to go to sea any old how, so I took what was offered. All things considered, I think BP did very well by me and I got a good training in so far as possible given the restricted variety of being on tankers. BP were pretty good on the training side as the national MNTB scheme in use for cadets was directly lifted from the one that BP designed and had in use for some years in the 60s.

I was lucky to be on some of their older ships where even the slightest amount of trad skills were still needed, such as the splicing and things like maintenance of deck machinery and so on.

*Yes I know that DSM had a female officer a couple of years before me but she didnt do the normal cadet entry training, but did the degree route.

There was one BP tanker, a regular runner to Jebel Dhanna which I am told by Pilots from that port was well crewed with female Deck cadets and mates. Apparently, the Master (very senior, small guy) was almost spoilt by the attention/respect these ladies paid him.
All very professional of course but what a nice way to end you time at sea.

Pilot mac
30th December 2012, 14:57
At the tender age of 16 I quite liked the idea of a career on passenger ships (well known company with white ships and buff funnel) the bloke at the 'Pool' put me off by saying 'do you want to learn to become a seaman or do you want to learn to dance the foxtrot'

regards
Dave

bgrace
30th December 2012, 22:57
I had a similar experience, not sure if it was my first watch as a 3rd Mate but it was very early on, the Old Man was permantley drunk , old and he used go to bed and tell me in no uncertain terms that he wasn't to be disturbed, however on night we were coming from Amsterdam or Rotterdam and it was a pea souper and I knew we were getting close to one of the Goodwin lightships, being a small coaster we had litte or navigational aids as i can recall, I was getting very nervous so I tried to wake him but he was as if unconcious, then I had a large tanker bearing down on me on the starboard side, I quickly altered course to port and it passed by me with its horn blaring at me
Hmm - an interesting string for sure.
I served my deck cadet apprenticeship working under the Bosun - all of it.
There was no job I couldn't do - at the end of it, and a damned sight faster than an elderly A.B.
Yes I was cheap labour, no doubt about it.
4-8 sea watches (wheel,lookout,"farmer") followed by a full "field day" on deck, all on less than Twenty U.K. Pounds per month.
My first bridge watch was as 3rd Mate entering Dover Straights outbound (ex Hull) in dense fog. I was left on my own as the oldman went to his bed having been up in the fog since departing the Humber. There was no traffic separation scheme in those days - it was chaotic - to say the least.
However, somehow I managed, but I do recall feeling very uncomfortable, even shaking with fear or anxiety at times.
Beginners luck - yes that was a part of it too.
By the time we were inbound again, about three months later, I was watchkeeping without anxiety - and with reasonable confidence.
Looking back today, I have no regrets about my apprenticeship/cadetship, none at all - it stood me in great stead throughout my seafaring career.
There was no job I couldn't do, and perhaps more importantly I never forgot what the "Bad Jobs" were like to perform, and always took that into detailed consideration especially when Chief Officer and Master.
That was probably the best benefit from my apprenticeship days, as well as I never asked anyone to do anything I was not able to do myself, or was not prepared to do myself - and on many occassions, I did.
That factor paid dividends over and over again - I always had great crews, the very very finest, I suggest.
Shipmasters of today should perhaps take note - you may be the Master, but you still have to get dirty sometimes, even quite frequently, on some types of vessels. (Particularly so, with reduced manning levels)
You are not doing your job - if you don't.
The same goes for Chief Engineers.
That is a personal opinion - nothing else.
(Fly)


Edit:- Ref:- "and a damned sight faster than an elderly A.B."(above). That should probably include the words - "with the exception of wire splicing" - the old guys could be pretty fast when it came to that.
AND, I was never on tramps - cargo liner- that's what I was, as an apprentice - and through to 2nd Mate.

oldman 80
30th December 2012, 23:12
I had a similar experience, not sure if it was my first watch as a 3rd Mate but it was very early on, the Old Man was permantley drunk , old and he used go to bed and tell me in no uncertain terms that he wasn't to be disturbed, however on night we were coming from Amsterdam or Rotterdam and it was a pea souper and I knew we were getting close to one of the Goodwin lightships, being a small coaster we had litte or navigational aids as i can recall, I was getting very nervous so I tried to wake him but he was as if unconcious, then I had a large tanker bearing down on me on the starboard side, I quickly altered course to port and it passed by me with its horn blaring at me

Hmm - your alteration to port sends a bit of a shiver down my spine.
Please note, the oldman I was with when left alone that morning, certainly was not drunk.
I think, on reflection, and considering the times, he probably felt a bit inadequate in a sense - as a brand new 3/0 I had just obtained a Radar Observers Certificate - which he, of his generation, did not have - at the time. (Radar Observers Certs had only just be introduced and were compulsory before being given your CoC).
That's my opinion only, - with somewhat mature hindsight .

jimthehat
30th December 2012, 23:29
This mention of Captain Fletcher just brought back another memory of him. I was waiting to put my 'papers' in for Masters in 1964. It was Second Mates orals day. There was one youngster waiting in full 'Teddy Boy' rig. I asked the Clerk who was examining and was told Captain Fletcher. This could be nasty I thought. Sure enough in goes the youngster and within minutes he is out again with six months sea time! They were all told to wear a blazer and flannels says the Clerk!

Where was Capt. Fletcher an examiner?
I sat for masters in london about july 1964 and i heard that story,but I thought that it was because he had long hair and no jacket.
I dont know who my orals examiner was but he asked me some question about what I would do re a certain problem,I replied"call the master"he replied in a loud voice "you idiot you are the master"I found him fair and I got through no problem.

jim

Stephen J. Card
31st December 2012, 00:36
Where was Capt. Fletcher an examiner?
I sat for masters in london about july 1964 and i heard that story,but I thought that it was because he had long hair and no jacket.
I dont know who my orals examiner was but he asked me some question about what I would do re a certain problem,I replied"call the master"he replied in a loud voice "you idiot you are the master"I found him fair and I got through no problem.

jim

To my knowledge the examiners did not remain in one port, but were moved about.

duncs
31st December 2012, 04:07
Hi, pilot mac, if I,m thinking of the same cadet, was the 'Dwarka' not a 'passy' boat?
Rgds
Duncs

oldman 80
31st December 2012, 04:28
Hi, pilot mac, if I,m thinking of the same cadet, was the 'Dwarka' not a 'passy' boat?
Rgds
Duncs

Excuse me, I don't wish to intrude, but the Dwarka was a BISN (B.I.) "D" Class cargo ship, a sister to the DARA, which was bombed and sunk by Omani Rebels with great loss of life. (Deck Passengers) - Pilgrims to or from the Haj - if my memory serves me correctly.
In the aftermath of that incident - the first M.N. "Security Officer" was born. The date escapes me - late 1950's or early 1960's.

Edit:- Please note some inaccurate info in this posting. Not Haj Pilgrims - (April 61) wrong time of year. See posting #93 and thanks to Malky.

duncs
31st December 2012, 04:46
Yes, Dwarka was a BI pass/cargo boat. I spent 13mths on her, I think "pilot mac" was a cadet on her some of that time. Calling her a "passy" boat was a joke(Dave will understand). She was actually classed as a WO/WO, i.e. the cargo walked on/walked off(another joke). I think we carried around 900 pass on deck/twin decks, about 80 or so cabin class. It was never confirmed the cause of the Dara explosion. Yes, we carried a security officer, ex RSM army, he carried equiv 2/0 rank.
Rgds
D

oldman 80
31st December 2012, 04:53
Yes, Dwarka was a BI pass/cargo boat. I spent 13mths on her, I think "pilot mac" was a cadet on her some of that time. Calling her a "passy" boat was a joke(Dave will understand). She was actually classed as a WO/WO, i.e. the cargo walked on/walked off(another joke). I think we carried around 900 pass on deck/twin decks, about 80 or so cabin class. It was never confirmed the cause of the Dara explosion. Yes, we carried a security officer, ex RSM army, he carried equiv 2/0 rank.
Rgds
D

Sorry but I believe the cause was confirmed eventually - well almost 100% so.
Security Officer - 2/O status - is correct. Absolutely.

woodend
31st December 2012, 06:47
'jimthehat' - Captain Fletcher was a Senior Examiner at Liverpool. I can still see the lad, powder blue cut away suit with dark blue reveres, long hair and side boards!

Malky Glaister
31st December 2012, 09:29
BRITISH INDIA have an excellent website. You can find first hand details of the DARA explosion.

I sailed wit Ramsay Birrel a couple of times, he was a very unfortunate 2/e on the vessel.

I thought the WO/WO notation amusing but I thought also the W meant something else initially.

regards

Malky

Malky Glaister
31st December 2012, 09:53
""For interest, the senior personnel at the building were Capt. Macphee, c/o Brian French, c/e Tony Airey, 2/e John Galpin and Ch. Stwd. Jimmy Prentice, all great characters. Regards, Tom Tait ""

The above is taken from a posting by Tait693 in 2007 and relates to ST Naess Ambassador.

There are some very well known Diamond D names there!!

Hope this is of interest. Nothing to do with deck apprentices I know!!

regards

Malky

all the best to everyone for the New Year

oldseamerchant
31st December 2012, 12:37
To my knowledge the examiners did not remain in one port, but were moved about.

Well Fletcher was in Liverpool in the early 1960s and apparently still there when you went up in the 70s. Unlikely that a man of Fletchers obvious seniority and age moved much as I know people who say he was in Orleans Hose from the 1950s.
I thought he retired in 1970?. He certainly did not make the move to Graeme House near James Street Station.

bgrace
31st December 2012, 17:53
Were there any GCSE requirements in order to take the 2nd Mate Certificate?

NoR
31st December 2012, 18:53
Were there any GCSE requirements in order to take the 2nd Mate Certificate?

No academic requirements. Just requisit sea time and eyesight.

Stephen J. Card
31st December 2012, 19:08
Well Fletcher was in Liverpool in the early 1960s and apparently still there when you went up in the 70s. Unlikely that a man of Fletchers obvious seniority and age moved much as I know people who say he was in Orleans Hose from the 1950s.
I thought he retired in 1970?. He certainly did not make the move to Graeme House near James Street Station.


Yes, I am beginng to wonder if we are talking about the same examiner. For sure the one in Glasgow, c. 1975, had a similar reputation!

Stephen

NoR
31st December 2012, 19:29
This mention of Captain Fletcher just brought back another memory of him. I was waiting to put my 'papers' in for Masters in 1964. It was Second Mates orals day. There was one youngster waiting in full 'Teddy Boy' rig. I asked the Clerk who was examining and was told Captain Fletcher. This could be nasty I thought. Sure enough in goes the youngster and within minutes he is out again with six months sea time! They were all told to wear a blazer and flannels says the Clerk!

There was a C/e in Townsend circa 1976 whose uniform was a little errr .... fashionable I.e. wide lapels and flared trousers. He'd never been FG otherwise he'd have known better.

bgrace
31st December 2012, 19:39
No academic requirements. Just requisit sea time and eyesight.

the reason I asked that question , I am trying to recall why I didn't take it, I remember going to the Liverpool School but then signed on as a 3rd Mate, it must have been either I didn't have enough seatime as I had to have my indentures mutally terminated as I had needed an operation or it may have been the lack of money

oldseamerchant
31st December 2012, 19:53
Yes, I am beginng to wonder if we are talking about the same examiner. For sure the one in Glasgow, c. 1975, had a similar reputation!

Stephen

I can assure you if you had been before Fletcher you would NEVER forget. Since last post I have 'phoned a friend' who assures me Fletcher only examined in Liverpool and did retire in 1970.

Andy Lavies
31st December 2012, 20:59
Another examiner to remember was Captain Freaker at Southampton in the early 60's - hearts fell and pulses raced if you found yourself on his list!
Andy

jimthehat
31st December 2012, 23:27
Another examiner to remember was Captain Freaker at Southampton in the early 60's - hearts fell and pulses raced if you found yourself on his list!
Andy

It looks as if every port had their own tough examiner,I think that I met mine when up for mates(london)
As I mentioned the one I had for masters was fair,I thought that I was going to struggle doing the deviascope but it turned into a doddle.
I wonder what they study now instesd of the magnetic compass.

jim

oldman 80
31st December 2012, 23:57
BRITISH INDIA have an excellent website. You can find first hand details of the DARA explosion.

I sailed wit Ramsay Birrel a couple of times, he was a very unfortunate 2/e on the vessel.

I thought the WO/WO notation amusing but I thought also the W meant something else initially.

regards

Malky

Thanks for that Info Malky - I just had a look at their website.
I note April 1961 was the date of the incident therefore obviously there is some inaccurate info in my previous posting in relation to the Dara. It can't have been Haj Pilgrims that were on board at the time although I am sure they were carried on deck on those ships at Hajj time.
Clearly they carried pax deck cargo at other times too - not unlike India Railways and Pax on Roofs - perhaps.
I don't generally visit many other websites other than this one - and my financial institutions - a habit I'll have to change as clearly my memory isn't perfect - just pretty good for my age.
I suppose I'll have to go back and edit my original post now (re-Dara) or something.

Edit: Original Post #78.

oldman 80
1st January 2013, 00:17
Another examiner to remember was Captain Freaker at Southampton in the early 60's - hearts fell and pulses raced if you found yourself on his list!
Andy

What about Captain Denn - in Glasgow ?
He "ate" prospective 2MFG's if they didn't know their stuff, and with R.O.R. matters - "assassination" - was on the cards if you didn't get those questions right. (Ouch)
However in hindsight, (looking back) probably one of the best examiners the B.O.T. ever had. I believe many a candidate from those days would agree.

oldman 80
1st January 2013, 00:23
Were there any GCSE requirements in order to take the 2nd Mate Certificate?

No need - 2MFG exams (and the rest) were way beyond GCSE standards requirement - you just would not pass if you didn't "measure up" in maths and physics in particular. However the knowledge required was more specifically "focused" - shall we say.

oldman 80
1st January 2013, 01:47
Yes, Dwarka was a BI pass/cargo boat. I spent 13mths on her, I think "pilot mac" was a cadet on her some of that time. Calling her a "passy" boat was a joke(Dave will understand). She was actually classed as a WO/WO, i.e. the cargo walked on/walked off(another joke). I think we carried around 900 pass on deck/twin decks, about 80 or so cabin class. It was never confirmed the cause of the Dara explosion. Yes, we carried a security officer, ex RSM army, he carried equiv 2/0 rank.
Rgds
D


Hmm, I see. "A joke" was it ? Right then.
Well I'm glad "Dave" will understand it, because I don't. Not least of all, in light of recent happenings on the Indian Subcontinent. As a senior maritime citizen you are perhaps not setting a very good example for any modern day cadets who may be looking in on this thread.
Just a thought - that is all, and drawing it to your attention - for your further consideration - and no more.
Have a happy new year and all the best for 13.
(POP)

John Cassels
1st January 2013, 10:47
Don't know about 1975 but in 1973 it was Capt.Rayner - a real gent.

Previous reference should be to Capt. Denne and not Denn.

NoR
1st January 2013, 10:53
What about Captain Denn - in Glasgow ?
He "ate" prospective 2MFG's if they didn't know their stuff, and with R.O.R. matters - "assassination" - was on the cards if you didn't get those questions right. (Ouch)
However in hindsight, (looking back) probably one of the best examiners the B.O.T. ever had. I believe many a candidate from those days would agree.

I had some experience of Capt Denn in 1966 when I went across to Glasgow (from Leith) for 2nd mates signals. He gave me a signal to code up in flags. I couldn't find the equivalent in the code book. He bawled the crap out of me before discovering that the message actually didn't exist in code. Anyway I passed in the end, after he'd apologised to his lady secretary for the language. I got the impression that his bark was a lot worse than his bite. Capt Fields in Leith was exactly the opposite, but his morse sending was lousy which us why a few of us ended up in Glasgow for signals.

oldman 80
1st January 2013, 23:56
I had some experience of Capt Denn in 1966 when I went across to Glasgow (from Leith) for 2nd mates signals. He gave me a signal to code up in flags. I couldn't find the equivalent in the code book. He bawled the crap out of me before discovering that the message actually didn't exist in code. Anyway I passed in the end, after he'd apologised to his lady secretary for the language. I got the impression that his bark was a lot worse than his bite. Capt Fields in Leith was exactly the opposite, but his morse sending was lousy which us why a few of us ended up in Glasgow for signals.

That sounds like Denn all right - although I'm suprised he made that error you mention. Stress perhaps ?
There was another occassion I believe, when the Police were called by some passers by - a window was open and some unfortunate cadet was on the receiving end of his wrath.
Fields had a better reputation - but Leith exam dates never suited me. I was Glasgow for 2m, 1m, and Masters (although ex Warsash for Masters) - Denn had long gone by then, I can't remember the orals examiners name on that occassion - but he seemed a hell of a nice guy.

duncs
2nd January 2013, 11:52
Oldman80, I,m just back home after looking after a v/l in a neighbouring island whilst the ship's staff had their happy new year(I'm a nightwatchman). I was offended by your post #96. I was on BI's Sirdhana prior to Dwarka, and the reason I went to Dwarka was to get back to the friends I made in Bombay. We may have joked about, but we looked after our passengers. Believe you me, from Amin's Ugandan deportees, to pilgrims up the Gulf, they all got our respect, and safety was foremost.
D

oldman 80
2nd January 2013, 12:04
Oldman80, I,m just back home after looking after a v/l in a neighbouring island whilst the ship's staff had their happy new year(I'm a nightwatchman). I was offended by your post #96. I was on BI's Sirdhana prior to Dwarka, and the reason I went to Dwarka was to get back to the friends I made in Bombay. We may have joked about, but we looked after our passengers. Believe you me, from Amin's Ugandan deportees, to pilgrims up the Gulf, they all got our respect, and safety was foremost.
D

Oh well I suppose that is a consequence of "notice board" text. Perhaps private jokes should be kept out of public forums ie kept to PM's or the like. Others likely won't understand them and may also be offended. Idi Amin - yes that's another dark period many may have forgotten

Cisco
2nd January 2013, 12:06
BI's 'D's were passenger ships http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/47171/title/mv-dwarka/cat/520

WOWO is an old(ish) term for passo boats...along with 'self loading cargo' for the passos.

Not sure what all the fuss is about here......

duncs
2nd January 2013, 13:01
Cisco, sorry, I,m just home, having my newyear dram, tired and pissed off. Hitting the haystacks shortly.
(Why did I switch this laptop on?)
Goodless nose.
Goodnight and bi

China hand
2nd January 2013, 18:30
Tired and pissed off? On a deck apprentices page? Never happen. Enjoy yr dram Duncs

Rogerfrench
2nd January 2013, 18:47
This forum is excellent. I read the posts from Woodend and Graham the Pipe and feel young at 71! And why not? I was a few years behind them in ED's and made more money, apparently, starting at the giddy heights of 9 pounds and 10 shillings per month!
I also had "Fletch" for my Second Mates orals in December 1962, but didn't have too much drama that I can remember.

oldman 80
2nd January 2013, 20:57
Tired and pissed off? On a deck apprentices page? Never happen. Enjoy yr dram Duncs


apprentices / cadets - yes they were rather "special" back in those times - even bordering on young gentlemen perhaps ?
Good bunch anyhow - in general.
Right through - well into the 80's in fact.
(Fly)

David E
4th January 2013, 23:26
Another examiner to remember was Captain Freaker at Southampton in the early 60's - hearts fell and pulses raced if you found yourself on his list!
Andy

I caught him for Master and still remember it !! He was tough.

duncs
5th January 2013, 05:07
China hand, I was scratching my head there for a while. I've got poor eyesight, I thought you said apprentices wage. Couldn't figure that one out, till I read it again.
rgds D

Ken Davidson
7th January 2013, 16:12
All,
I served my time with Hain's in the late 50's and was certainly used as cheap labour, however Hain's unusually paid overtime!!
When I was offered a Uncertificated Third Mates job I had to go down to the London Office and yhere I was quizzed by Captain Percy Madden in the presence of the Company Secretary a Mr. Christopher about sights and more particularly ROR, it took half an hour.
Once on the ship, Sights, Compass Errors, Weather Observations etc, were picked up or honed on the job, I have a lot to be grateful to my two mentors Mate Jack Ashbridge and Second Mate Tony Barley, my Deck skills never were questioned, that was a given.
Yours aye,

slick
Hi
I remember Percy Madden and Mr Chritopher I served my apprenticeship with Hains in the early 50s and have some great memories
Ken Davidson

WilliamH
7th January 2013, 16:25
An overheard conversation
Captain I'm telling you, "We'll never get that dunnage out and the holds swept by first light."
Well Mr. Mate, "Break open another crate of Cadets"

Wallyh
16th January 2013, 07:17
I caught him for Master and still remember it !! He was tough.

I had him for 2nd Mates took three and half hours, seen I was a Reardon Smith's cadet, dispensed with all the ropes and wires and went straight in the ROR, threw me out twice to learn the rule he was questioning me on, I have always been hopeless at learning things by rote, sailed lifeboats up and down a desk, boxed the compass every way possible corrected the sextant topped derricks and sent the topmast down for transiting the Manchester Ship Canal and back up again in the end he passed me which came as huge shock, so I think he was fair lots of other people I met didn't think the same way.

Had to retake orals again before I eventually got 2nd Mates, this time in Cardiff with Capt. Swenson said don't like to see you boys back twice for orals, sat me down rather than standing to attention as in Southampton, questioned me for 25 minutes said you've passed I said "thank you very much", he said "don't thank me boy thank yourself for knowing it".


Wally H