Esso Wandsworth

17th September 2010, 16:21
Anyone out there who remembers this old timer? I joined her in Milford Haven in 1964 as 4th engineer. I vividly remember a group of us standing on the jetty as she came alongside, and the first question was "which b****y way round is she?" since the bow and stern looked similar and her steering was a little uncertain (she hit the jetty).

In the engine room everything was driven by steam recip engines and DC motors, and the twin triple expansion engines had no rev counters, so responding to telegraph instructions was a matter of uneducated guesswork. On "full away" we used to try to match the speeds of the engines by standing between them and trying to match the rate of movement of the HP con rods, and we rarely got it right so the bridge would assist us by telling us what steering angle they had to maintain to go more or less straight, following which we would carry out adjustments (or not as we thought fit).

The one thing I really remember, apart from the twin scotch boilers that would blow rivets at regular intervals and blow back from the furnace fronts if they took exception the you, was the 'fridge system that worked on chlorine gas. Every now and again the 'fridge pumps would start to attempt pumping liquid chlorine, and that caused a massive overload in the DC pump motors. The result was a dimming of the engine room lamps and, if we didn't get to the pumps quickly enough, an enormous bang as the fuse blew and blasted the back panels off the switchboard.

On my watch I had a greaser who would insist on sneaking off behind the panels for a pee in the bilges, and however many times I warned him with a logging or a flogging, he kept doing it -- until the day when the 'fridge fuse blew while he was at his ablutions. He staggered out and muttered " F**** me four-oh, I think I'd rather have the logging if it's OK by you!"

Keltic Star
18th September 2010, 03:29
From what I remember the "Esso Wandsworth" and her sister. the "Esso Lambeth" were old shallow draft, U.S built steamers originally used on Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. In Europe, Esso used them for delivering HFO to power stations. In the early sixties, I was on the smaller Esso Brixham and Esso Hythe and on exceptional neap tides when they could not get in, we used to milk them in Plymouth Sound and transfer the cargo to the power station.

18th September 2010, 10:53
I sailed on the Wandsworth in the late 1950s with Capt. Petrie, I sailed on one of her sisters the Esso Chelsea as well with Capt. Shields.

18th September 2010, 11:17
Keltic Star you are correct. The old "Dingbats" were built for Maracaibo. She was built for Creole Petroleum apparently, by Barnes Duluth in the USA in 1943 according to a Google search. Being a lake boat she was not best designed for sea service I guess as her maneuverability in any sea way left a bit to be desired, and she could roll like a pig when minded to.

The ships laundry room was on the other side of the companionway to the engine room door, and when she rolled to a certain angle the washing machine would shoot out of the laundry room and into the engine room.

The galley, I recall, had an oil fired range that blew up quite regularly, so a plentiful supply of carbon in the food was fairly common. And in the engineers accommodation all of the bunks were against the ship's side under portholes that always leaked. This made all us engineers well preserved as we were thoroughly salted.

I did six months on Wandsworth in 1964 and 1965, and although she was great fun there was, of course, no bond locker, and in any case I was trying to get in sufficient sea time for my second's ticket so I could have done without coastal work.

18th September 2010, 11:18

There are six photographs of ESSO WANDSWORTH on this page (
Scroll towards the bottom of the page.

bill connolly
19th September 2010, 18:36
I was on the Esso Chelsea twice.
The period of roll was 4 seconds, 2 degrees either side or 22 degrees.
It was the only ship where you had to stow the chart rubbers to stop them falling of the chart table


20th September 2010, 07:55
I was on the Esso Chelsea twice.
The period of roll was 4 seconds, 2 degrees either side or 22 degrees.
It was the only ship where you had to stow the chart rubbers to stop them falling of the chart table


I recall once on Wandsworth that we were called upon to take bunkers to (I think) the Queen Mary in Cherbourg because the weather in the Channel was too severe for her to risk Soton! That's when we really found out how a Dingbat could roll. The period of roll didn't come into it -- it got close the revs per minute!

16th October 2011, 16:17
Hi Bill,
I was on the Chelsea for about 3 months after joining her in South Shields. I distinctly remember havimg to carry our plates of food from the galley on the starboard side across the engine fiddley to our mess-room on the port side. I also remember one rough trip from Milford Haven ( where I have lived for 50 years) to Dingle on the Mersey--I think we passed the South Stack light 3 times in 8 hours.
I got transferred to the Esso Preston (much more refined, and sooo warm in winter)

Best regards

16th October 2011, 21:30
Sailed on her sister ESSO LAMBETH when we got rammed by one of the trader boats as we turned into Tilbury power station,