Shatt El Arab

Tony Shaw
26th February 2011, 14:46
Does anybody have any stories to tell of those bygone ports on the Shatt El Arab, such as Basra, Khorramshahr, Abadan, Fao, etc. I don't think anybody could associate romance with any of them, but I visited those ports over a 6 year period, and, amongst other things, I wish I'd taken more photographs. (Only had a Kodak 'Brownie' Box at the time ! which I had to place on the taffrail to keep it steady !) Met some very interesting people along the way.

sparkie2182
26th February 2011, 16:13
Couldn't take piccies when i was there in the late 70's early 80's.
Both Iraq and Iran were on a war footing and highly suspicious of outsiders.
My main recollection is of date palm trees for as far as the eye could see, not much else.

:)

price
26th February 2011, 18:13
In 1967 I was on the Iranian flag ships Khododad Vananca and the Darvish Vananca, although our port of registry was Bandar Abbas, our home port was Khorramshar, we spent a lot of time there swinging on the hook at the mouth of the River Khorram with a boat and boatman ready to ferry anyone who wished to go ashore or come back on board. Our favourite evening haunt was the Anahita Hotel, a former Sheiks' palace where, we could leisurely dine and sup in the courtyard. Our regular run was loading drums of bitumen from The Iranian Oil Refinery in Abadan for discharge at various ports for the construction of the Trucial Oman Highway, the normal discharge ports were Doha, Dubai Abu Dhabi and Ras al Khaima, with the occasional stop at Jazirat Das. We sometimes loaded cement at Basrah for Kuwait and once to Bandar Abbas. When carrying out repairs/maintanance we would lie on no. 27 berth Abadan.
Bruce.

trotterdotpom
27th February 2011, 01:51
Loaded a full cargo of bagged dates in Basrah (about 1975). Basrah was a bit of a dump but at least you could get a drink there and I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a place called the "Chinese Garden" where you were supposed to be able to get a "bag off" - for the unitiiated, that is not a spelling mistake, I do not mean a "bag off dates". Sadly I never found it. I could have had a date with a local boatman who rowed us back to the ship one night - after fluttering my eyelids and making a few promises I had no intention of keeping, I was able to pay him in Brazilian Cruceros (sp?).

We sailed for Shanghai with an Iraqi pilot - the courtesy flag going up and down as we switched between the hostile states of Iraq and Iran running down the river.

As we passed Abadan, the anchored ships were swinging with the tide and we bumped into one! Only slight damage but we had to stop and exchange names of insurance companies, etc. The pilot was mortified and spewed his guts up over the bridge wing, just before the Iranian authorities came on board and took him away. Not sure if the penalty for having a collision was "stoning" or what. After a day or so, we sailed again, presumably with an Iranian pilot this time (my memory is sketchy here), but it wasn't long before we were aground on a sandbank! After another day or so hanging around, in the fullness of tide, we set off again and made it safely past Fao and off to China, which is another story.

John T.

Pat Thompson
27th February 2011, 08:10
Greetings,

I was there a number of times in WHSN's Kepwickhall as Apprentice in 1963-43. We used to go to Khoramshahr to discharge allongside and then up to Basrah for final discharge thence on to buoys at Maquil (spelling dubious) up near Basrah airporort to load dates at the start of the homeward leg. On our way back downriver we would anchor off Khoramshahr to load cotton then we we were homeward bound. The ship had to be swung at every tide as the river was too narrow to swing unaided. It was just hard over and a kick ahead and once the stern was clear a kick astern.

On the wharf at Khoramshahr there was a bar, know as "Rosie's Cantina" (remember Marty Robbins, "El Paso", very popular at the time) that used to sell the most revolting beer I ever had the misfortune to drink and Vodka (???) which we reckoned came from an illicit tap on the aviation spirit line down at Abadan.

The Iranial loading master rode a BSA B31 (350cc single) which he would let me ride providing I stayed in the port area, great fun.

In Basrah there was the British Club where you could go for a beer, tepid Orangeboom and Heineken. The building was, as I remember, a largish detached building in a palm tree shaded garden.

And by the way, don't forget the sandstorms on the river where the visibility dropped to almost zero and you had to anchor untill it cleared. You then spent the next few days removing the sand from the accomodation.

slick
27th February 2011, 09:00
All,
I served my time up and down the Gulf with Hain's (1958-1963) on charter to Stricks and the Dutch company VNS (please don't ask me to spell it out, after all it is Sunday morning!)
On the MV Trevelyan we were at Fao discharging pipes and railway lines (?) and I fell sick it was necessary for me to be taken up to Basrah to see the Doctor.
The Agent arranged for me to be taken by 'fast black' across the desert, well it was dry and dusty.
I was duly seen by the Doctor told it was nothing serious and was parked in a very comfortable well it was when compared to Hain's Apprentices Accommodation.
They could not get a car to take me back to Fao, so the Agent said "We'll send you down the river by boat".
I was taken down to Shatt al Arab at Basra and shown the boat it was a "Felucca" loaded with cargo up on to the deck I seem to remember it was a straw or reed Deck cargo.
Up the plank and a few instructions were passed to the Skipper and I was offered a very comfortable place on the Deck cargo and off we sailed I did not speak Arabic and English was not forthcoming, however I was offered tea and a had a memorable journey.
We arrived at the Trevelyan at about midday the skipper laid his boat alongside her , asneat as has ever been done,the Deck Cargo height of the felucca allowed me to climb over the rail on to the Main Deck in front the crew who were just finishing their lunch with a well deserved cigarette by number four hatch.
Within fifteen minutes I was back on Cargo Watch.
A thank you and a quick wave and my "taxi" was gone, the memory has stayed with me all these years.

Yours aye,

slick

Rennie Cameron
27th February 2011, 09:07
I recall being on the Rowanmore bound for Korramshar. Unfortuately we took on on Iraqi pilot! The man wouldnt get off. I cant recall how he was ejected, but we spent all night at slow ahead waiting for the right man. He arrived and with the support of two gunboats we made it safely up and alongside. To compound the problem our gunboats broke down on our departure! We were chased by an Iraqi gunboat in open water. Still have the photo which is almost a dot on the horizon. The bridge told the gunboat we would not stop and we would call for assistance. In reply they told us the nearest RN ship was in Mombassa! We were on charter to Iran National Lines with appropriate funnel markings. So we sailed on and took our thimble tube boiler problems to a friendlier place!

borderreiver
27th February 2011, 09:44
In 1962 The Border Reiver on approaching the outer pilot run by Iran no pilot . In those day the outer pilot was not compulsory, no VHF in those day . so we proceeded to the next pilot station. The RO come on watch to find all the Radio station blasting out calling for us to get out as war had started between Iraq and Iran. A quick turn round and escaped to Mena .
This war only lasted a few days and we back to Abadan to load in summer the seamens swimming pool was home with large blocks of ice in. The ship was not air condition. On later trips the pool was only for the local big wigs.

Pilot mac
27th February 2011, 09:53
Hated Khorramshar, discharging at anchor and keeping deck cargo watches but also keeping half an eye out in case she started to swing in the unpredictable tide. The river was not wide enough to swing without a little help from the engines. Basra was one of the better Gulf ports, well at least you could get a beer or even go to the cinema. Had my first kebab in Basra (elephants leg type).And now especially for Slick, (I was an ex Hains apprentice) the last 'Trefusis' ended her days on this god awful river, she got caught up in the First Gulf War and remained there for several years before being scrapped.

regards
Dave

Tony Shaw
27th February 2011, 13:10
Dave/
Do you know a chap called John Davies ? He was with Hains before going to Esso where I sailed with him on the Esso small coasters - I used to come into Shoreham with the old "Esso Caernarvon". It's funny that the original Esso berth is now the RMC berth !!
Hope you are well
Regards
Tony

Peter Eccleson
27th February 2011, 14:43
We were there on Port Alfred (Capt Twomey) in about 1973 from Buenos Aires. Remember the British Club and also all of the anti-American slogans painted on the warehouses on the quayside. What a dump! Also remember the occasional dead animal floating down the river and the brown sandy water.

Gareth Jones
27th February 2011, 18:20
I was at Basrah sometime in the 70's - I can remember watching some soldiers with rifles taking pot shots at any Iranians who dared show up across the river - I also remember watching a guy on a barge pizzing in the water whilst his mate further along down the barge had a tin on a string and was lifting up water and drinking it !
Miserable place.

Peter Martin
27th February 2011, 18:53
When I was 3rd mate on the Al Jaberiah (KSCo) in the early 70's, we were discharging steel from Japan at Abadan. I developed, or caught, a nasty stomach infection which caused me to be carted off to the local hospital and laid up there for 2 or 3 days. Being rather cautious in what I ate, a rather nice cook disappeared and returned with a plate of minced beef & mashed potato. after three days without it was a banquet. I was discharged back to the ship that evening and was back on deck watch the next day. I bought a silver ring from a small jeweller nar to the dock. This has an inlay of the Shah's crown in it and I was told that the design came from Persopolis, the ancient capital. I still have it.

Klaatu83
27th February 2011, 20:15
Once, when I was on a ship at Bandar Shahpur (Now Bandar Khomeini), one of our crew found the time to make a side trip up to Abadan. While there he managed to buy a genuine Persian carpet, which he wasted no time in showing off to the rest of us. He was extremely voluble about the quality of the hand-made workmanship, the sort one simply doesn't encounter in America or Europe anymore. While I was looking it over I happened to notice a small tag sewed onto one corner on the bottom, which read, "Made In Belgium".

My most vivid recollection of Bandar Shahpur was of the Iranian longshoremen dropping a pallet of 1000-pound bombs down to the bottom of the cargo hold. I was frankly surprised that they didn't go right through the bottom of the ship! However, some Iranian military officers who witnessed the incident were upset for a different reason. They were annoyed because the bombs didn't explode, and they accused us of delivering a consignment of duds!

I still have some of the Iranian coins that were left over from that trip. I don't know if they are considered rare, but they all have the Shah's picture on them, so I presume they're no longer in circulation.

horst ruedel
27th February 2011, 21:01
I remember BarahKorramshar and Abadan very good. I was there in 1962 with the Hansaship "Liebenfels". It was e very hot summer there and before we had to discharge in Kuwait cows, sheeps, goats an camels we got in Massaua.
When we were waiting on the Saht el Arab to get in to the port of Korramshar we had to wait many days. In the night we must look for the river pirats. We tookall aruond the ship big stronglamps and we were night watch with 5 or 6 AB. In Basrawe were not allowed to go on shore, because in that time Kassem was the dictatorof the Irak. I wonder they had hang him later.
It were wild times in the persian golf and we always talk, for every trip to the golf You will get one year free in the jail.

notnila
27th February 2011, 22:24
Loaded a full cargo of bagged dates in Basrah (about 1975). Basrah was a bit of a dump but at least you could get a drink there and I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a place called the "Chinese Garden" where you were supposed to be able to get a "bag off" - for the unitiiated, that is not a spelling mistake, I do not mean a "bag off dates". Sadly I never found it. I could have had a date with a local boatman who rowed us back to the ship one night - after fluttering my eyelids and making a few promises I had no intention of keeping, I was able to pay him in Brazilian Cruceros (sp?).

We sailed for Shanghai with an Iraqi pilot - the courtesy flag going up and down as we switched between the hostile states of Iraq and Iran running down the river.

As we passed Abadan, the anchored ships were swinging with the tide and we bumped into one! Only slight damage but we had to stop and exchange names of insurance companies, etc. The pilot was mortified and spewed his guts up over the bridge wing, just before the Iranian authorities came on board and took him away. Not sure if the penalty for having a collision was "stoning" or what. After a day or so, we sailed again, presumably with an Iranian pilot this time (my memory is sketchy here), but it wasn't long before we were aground on a sandbank! After another day or so hanging around, in the fullness of tide, we set off again and made it safely past Fao and off to China, which is another story.

John T.

John T
I've just spluttered a cheese sandwich all over my PC.(Jester)

Tony Shaw
8th March 2011, 17:54
I too remember the dust storms up the Shatt. They were extremely unpleasant as were the long night watches as a cadet watching out for pirates. One night I was on the foc'sle head when a canoe was heading for the anchor cable. I chucked a hatch wedge and my aim must have been good as the canoe beat a hasty retreat. I felt a little guilty though as those wedges are rather heavy ! Yes, and that Persian vodka (arak was it called - the stuff that made you blind according to the mate).I remember drinking some in a little shanty bar just off the jetty at Bandar Shahpour. I almost ended up falling off the jetty with an accordion strapped to my back. Some 'fool' had nipped back to the ship for me to play (sort of !) Just my luck - as I was being 'escorted' back to tghe ship the old man and passenger(ess) saw me and said "Oh look, it's the apprentice". The third mate, who was holding me up said "Quick, get aboard, I thin k the old man has seen you". To which I replied "---- the oldman"
He was a good skipper though, rare in those days, and saw the funny side of it.

Quiney
8th March 2011, 20:26
Does anybody have any stories to tell of those bygone ports on the Shatt El Arab, such as Basra, Khorramshahr, Abadan, Fao, etc. I don't think anybody could associate romance with any of them, but I visited those ports over a 6 year period, and, amongst other things, I wish I'd taken more photographs. (Only had a Kodak 'Brownie' Box at the time ! which I had to place on the taffrail to keep it steady !) Met some very interesting people along the way.

My eldest son was conceived on the Ruddbank, whilst at anchor off the Shatt el Arab, waiting to get over the bar and berth at Basra and Khorramshahr.
Romantic enough??

trotterdotpom
9th March 2011, 11:25
My eldest son was conceived on the Ruddbank, whilst at anchor off the Shatt el Arab, waiting to get over the bar and berth at Basra and Khorramshahr.
Romantic enough??

You tell us!

Most ships spent so much time anchored off there, there was time to conceive and give birth!


Good work though, getting a shot away off the Shatt is no mean feat!

John T

Cisco
9th March 2011, 12:04
Paid off a ship in 1967(?) when she was anchored off Bandar Shapur.. the ride in an ancient american taxi to Abadan was 'interesting' and a week in a fancy hotel in Abadan waiting for a flight ( Beruit/Athens/Nairobi/Joburg/Capetown) made up in part for the previous 6 months.
However the 2nd mate and master -who had both payed of a few weeks earlier- had ratted the stock of $$$ in the ship.... my cash payoff ( 'she'll be right....the rest is in your bank..') was a few hundred east african shillings and about 20 rand. Oh joy... fun times indeed...

Nigel Wing
9th March 2011, 13:36
While on British Resource in 1964, we loaded crude oil, at Bandar Mashur, it was here I think that we went ashore to a club for a few welcome beers, also there was an open air cinema, the film was The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.
We then headed for Bombay where we changed our crew, then discharged at Butcher Island, before returning to the Gulf to load at Abadan for discharge at Djibouti, ( probably the hottest place on earth ).
Are these ports still in operation?
Cheers
Nigel.

R396040
9th March 2011, 19:48
My first visit to the Persian Gulf was in 1948 on the British Might. Abadan was the only decent run ashore tanker port in those days. Most other places were just buoyed oil pipes to anchored vessels At Abadan you had the seamans club with swimming pool, nightly movie AND big bottles of cold beer which you paid for with ship bought vouchers/tickets. Once some friends and I thought we would try local bazaar, big mistake got stoned by locals after refusing to give baksheesh. No ships bars or pools or A/C in those days but lots of great memories
Stuart H

david freeman
26th May 2011, 20:44
Does anybody have any stories to tell of those bygone ports on the Shatt El Arab, such as Basra, Khorramshahr, Abadan, Fao, etc. I don't think anybody could associate romance with any of them, but I visited those ports over a 6 year period, and, amongst other things, I wish I'd taken more photographs. (Only had a Kodak 'Brownie' Box at the time ! which I had to place on the taffrail to keep it steady !) Met some very interesting people along the way.

There must be some old red sea tigers from BP who sail up to Abadan, before BP Left when the SHaH was kicked out in the mid sixties. There were at the BP refinery some nineteen berths for the 12 and 16's. No bigger ships could navigate the delicate moving sand banks which would change every tide into becoming more polically correct. There was a bar at the mouth of the Shattle Arab which could catch an inward/outward loaded tanker unawares/.

Dickyboy
26th May 2011, 21:16
I went up to Bandar Shapur, Bandar Mashur, which ever was the second one. The one with the broken up Italian tanker on the beach opposite. Used to go to the club there for a few bevvies, and stock up the Crew Bar with Pistachio Nuts. They were rare and expensive in the UK back then. I also had to go ashore to the doctor once, I was quite impressed with the medical treatment I got, and also with the mass immunisation program that was being carried out there. That was just before the Shah was given the boot.
I remember a year or two before that the Iranians bought three or four large military hovercraft from British Hovercraft in Cowes. I happened to watch them being loaded onto a ship in the Solent. We were steaming up the Shatt el Arab one day when two of them went screaming full tilt past us, across the sand, then on down the Shatt. I was impressed with the way they handled land an water. I don't know if they were ever used in any of the conflicts though.

price
27th May 2011, 10:20
The Iranian Company that I worked with for a while in the mid 1960s on regular coastal trading from the Shatt al Arab, forbade us to use pilots on the river up to Abadan, we did however take an Iraqi pilot from Abadan to Basra and back, this was compulsory, I believe at the time, most if not all of the river pilots were Iraqi, I could be wrong.
Bruce.

Binnacle
27th May 2011, 11:46
[QUOTE=R396040;498022]My first visit to the Persian Gulf was in 1948 on the British Might. Abadan was the only decent run ashore tanker port in those days. Most other places were just buoyed oil pipes to anchored vessels At Abadan you had the seamans club with swimming pool, nightly movie AND big bottles of cold beer which you paid for with ship bought vouchers/tickets.

The vouchers jogged my memory a bit. I was on the British Dragoon in 46/47. In Abadan used to get vouchers to value ten shillings per night. This IIRC could get you two bottles of beer and a packet of dates. It was good to get ashore to the club, the swimming pool and the cold beer. Loaded seven times in the Gulf and happily never returned. A couple of times when loading for Aden we moved up river to load aviation fuel in flimsy cans on deck for the RAF. We sailors used to hang our water chatties from the awning spars as we had no cold water available or fridge in our mess. A kindly American crew on a T2 in Bahrein let us come aboard and use their ice cold water machines. We had to wear BTC issue topees when on deck, and were told ice water would give us the cramps. Strictly BOT feeding, even though we had at one time taken stores in Melbourne.
Happy Days.

tom e kelso
25th December 2012, 01:24
Most of my Shatt el Arab memories go back to 1947/48 (DWARKA) ..monthly service from Bombay. 3/4 days turnround at Maquil wharf, Basrah..local (British?) club-swimming pool, nightly film show, outdoors, then inside in winter months. Daily attraction at Basrah was the late afternoon of the BOAC flying boat landing in the river...pax being ferried ashore to the BOAC hotel just upstream, and then taking off next morning for Karachi and stations beyond!
On one trip, we spent 11 Quarantined days anchored in Fao reach, subsequent to a cholera outbreak in either Karachi or Bombay. During this period, all onboard, including a number of deck passengers had to oblige with a daily "stool" sample (I later understood that the deck topassess had done a roaring trade providing such "samples"!).. Mention has been made of an "hotel" closeby Korramshahr...I wonder if this was a riverside "palace" a few miles upstream which I understood had been the stronghold of an erstwhile Sheik of Khorramshahr. Anyway at that time, the BI "D"class ships routinely "dipped" their ensign when passing, and I am told, in years then gone bye, had fired a saluting cannon! in recognition of some past favour

If berthing at Khorramshahr, IMMSMC, the Iraqui pilot from sea, left on the port side while the Irani pilot came aboard on the starboard side. [If berthing at Abadan, as BI D's did inward bound (for fuel) a BTC (now BP) berthing master did the neccesary)

Finally, I should mention memories of the contemporary Strick Line cargo superintendent stationed at Khorramshahr, the late Jimmy Linton. He looked after all P&O associated companies in the river and he and his Norwegian wife, Bridget, were, at Khorramshahr, most generous hosts

Mariner44
25th December 2012, 09:55
Fleeting memories for me: snow falling in the small hours when on cargo watch on I think it was the British Beacon at Bandar Mashur (snow in the Persian Gulf?), and a night watch on the foc'sle of the British Viscount at Abadan to ensure no mooring ropes were stolen.

A.D.FROST
25th December 2012, 10:21
Whilst at anchor waiting for a berth , the STRATHHARLICK was calling in,This is the P&O STRATHARLICK.....P&O STRATHARLICK..... then the reply came back Could you spell P&O?(SHITE ona ARAB)

LouisB
25th December 2012, 12:08
Last time I was up the S el A a company ship took cannon rounds through the hull. Luckily the Russian built ship had armouring either side of the wheelhouse/chartroom, even so the deckhead lights broke their mountings and fell off although the hits just dented the plating.

One of the good consequences was that the senior deck cadet in his final year left and went back to tech and (now retired) ran his own very successful i.t. consultancy service. Following this my own ship, whilst alongside in Iraq had several thermite devices detonate in a partly loaded hold. The marine fire brigade were like the keystone cops - their pumps unable to give sufficient pressure to surmount the freeboard of the ship.

We eventually sailed for Kuwait with a conrolled fire after releasing all of our CO2 and battening down the hatch although I don't suppose the tween cross alleyway bulkhead doors being open helped. What happened on arrival Kuwait is another long tale of total inadequacy and black humour. It remains a fact that we had several Hi-Ex foam generators flown in by specially chartered aircraft and put the fire out ourselves. All a long time ago.


LouisB. (Scribe)

Rob Pithers
25th December 2012, 12:50
As a P&O deck cadet on **** River, I remember being given 3 log books to keep up to date. 1 gave no reference to ever being in Iraq, 1 gave no reference to ever being in Iran, and the proper one for the BoT. I wonder what would have happened if the wrong authority saw the other log book? This was in the late '70s/early '80s.
Rob

bardig
11th October 2014, 17:05
Unhappy memories of Banda Shapour from 'City of Florence' we were discharging pipes ex Manchester for the Terehan water system. They rationed us to so many rail waggons per day and kept sending us out to anchor when 'more important' vessels came in. Deck covered with carpets of insects at night. Played football against the whole village (quite literally) don't think we scored a single goal!!

bfraser47
11th October 2014, 21:43
Was R/O on British Officer alongside Ababan, went ashore for about an hour...scared sh1tless. Back on board, set off next day, down the Shatt, buggers were shelling each other, we put biggest Union flags we could find over each side, pilot was totally useless, so Old Man threatened to chuck him over the side, sudden improvement. Crossed the bar at Fao, pilot went off on some mankey old barge, Old Man rang up full ahead, 11 knots, catch me if you Khan... or as it was then ...Shah in Shah
Worst part of the world, West Africa a paradise in comparison

AlbieR
11th October 2014, 22:48
Paid off in Khorramshar days before the Shah was deposed, agent said "fill your boots in the hotel because in a few days it will be gone and no bills forwarded to the company". He was right in his prediction. We were offered megabucks for our tickets at the airport by desperate people who wanted out. Never so glad to be out of a place, and I had been going there many years on and off.

AlbieR