Flying Saucer

Harry Nicholson
1st December 2005, 20:50
I wonder if any of you chaps can add anything to the Brocklebank flying saucer story, here is a bit that I wrote for my own amusement a while ago; I would really like to hear a version closer to the ship in question and if possible which ship it was and if it was the third mate. (I am tinkering around with my memoirs on and off... keeps the brain going)
regards
Harry (away till Sunday night.)


In 1956/7 the Suez Canal became impassable for a year or so due to Gabel Nasser's scuttling of ships in the waterway to impede the British, French and Israeli joint invasion of the Canal Zone. I was by this time a radio officer in the Merchant Navy and was inconvenienced by the lengthened sea journey from Calcutta to Liverpool or New Orleans now being routed around the Cape of Good Hope. I sailed at this time with Thos and Jno. Brocklebank Steam Navigation Company, out of Liverpool. During its long voyage around The Cape from India to the Gulf of Mexico one of our ships had an encounter with a UFO.
The intriguing story soon spread around our fleet of 24 ships, the nearest I came to its source was when I met (over a few beers in Calcutta), a friend of the third mate of the ship in question. I have forgotten the name of the vessel but it would have begun with the letters Ma, as did the names of all Brocklebank ships; Malakand, Marwarri or Mahronda for instance. She was in the South Atlantic heading for New Orleans via Good Hope. In the early hours after midnight a bell shaped flying craft adorned with porthole lights appeared alongside a few hundred yards away, hovering above the sea and keeping pace with the ship. The Mate on watch, the British helmsman and an Indian puree-wallah (lookout) witnessed the event. The Captain was called from his bunk; he appeared on the wing of the bridge and instructed the Mate to call the strange craft on the Aldis lamp. So the signal "what ship?" was flashed whereupon one of the ‘flying bell's’ lights blinked a few times in acknowledgement before it rose into the air and flew away. This contact lasted long enough for the captain to be roused from sleep and make his way to the bridge, so it would have been perhaps several minutes at least.

All Brocklebank ships were official weather recording vessels and sent in daily OBS messages to Portishead Radio in S.W.England. The form of message apart from the usual coded wind directions and barometer readings included a space for unusual phenomena. The contact with the strange craft was included in the next day's OBS message to Portishead. About two weeks later the steamer docked in New Orleans. A reporter from the local radio station had somehow picked up the story and boarded her to persuade the third mate to go on local radio that evening to "tell the folks about the UFO sighting". Shortly afterwards two plain clothes 'officials' came aboard and spoke to the captain; it was made clear to him that if he wished for a "trouble free turnround" on the American coast he should not allow the radio interview to take place. The third mate was instructed by the captain to remain aboard and have nothing further to do with journalists.