Runic

raybnz
24th December 2005, 08:35
Does anyone have details of the ex Shaw Savill SS Runic which was parked on the Middleton Reef between Aus and New Zealand. I was on another company ship that past her in the sixties and would be interested in seeing photo and info.

There were so many stories about how she came to be put there.

R58484956
24th December 2005, 14:51
Runic 13587 tons built 1950 by Harland & Wolff Belfast.539.8 x 72.2 x 40.8. 2 water tube boilers and 6 steam turbines single reduction to 2 screw shafts all by H&W.
Registered Southampton. code flags GGCS. DF, ESD, GyC, Radar.Owned by Shaw Saville & Albion.

KenLin39
24th December 2005, 19:28
Does anyone have details of the ex Shaw Savill SS Runic which was parked on the Middleton Reef between Aus and New Zealand. I was on another company ship that past her in the sixties and would be interested in seeing photo and info.

There were so many stories about how she came to be put there.

Hope this works. Ken.


http://www.shawsavillships.co.uk/runic_2.htm

Tmac1720
24th December 2005, 21:51
Details as requested on Runic:-
Built by Harland and Wolff Belfast Yard number 1414 Launched 21st October 1949 delivered 24th March 1950 13587 gross tons refrigerated carge ship for Shaw Savill & Albion Co. Sister Survic yard number 1415.

Ist Runic was H&W yard number 211 Runic II yard number 332 details are available if interested.

Iceberg
25th December 2005, 20:13
A small photo of the Runic is here (top left):
http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/elizabeth/

zsimone
26th December 2005, 08:44
Hi Attached you will find a photo of the Runic
Cheers
Gary

http://img466.imageshack.us/img466/5094/runic3co.th.jpg (http://img466.imageshack.us/my.php?image=runic3co.jpg)

nigelcollett
26th December 2005, 12:52
Runic (13587grt/1949) On the 19 Feb 1960 of the three the RUNIC, whilst on route from Brisbane to Auckland, went aground on Middleton Reef some 120 mile north of Lord Howe Island. The grounding took place as the RUNIC encountered bad weather in the wake of a tropical cyclone. A number of attempts were made to refloat her but a few days’ later heavy seas, from another tropical storm, drove the RUNIC another 100 feet onto the reef. Over the next few weeks’ further attempts were made but the pumps could not cope and on the 22 Mar 1961 she was declared a constructive loss. By way of a postscript, in May 1978 and 1979, the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research sent their vessel TANGAROA (Ex Harald Horn/Wellington Exporter) to Middleton Reef for the purpose of Oceanographic research. They reported that the RUNIC was still there despite many attempts at salvaging her and the ravages of the sea which had both taken their toll.
(From "Shaw Savill & Albion - The post-war fortunes of a shipping empire" by Richard P de Kerbrech)

Regards

NigelC

Sorry about the quality of the foto - didn't have time to tidy it up.

flyer682
27th December 2005, 11:30
Saw a photo somewhere recently and she's almost now completely gone.

ruud
27th December 2005, 11:41
Saw a photo somewhere recently and she's almost now completely gone.Ahoy David,
http://www.shawsavillships.co.uk/runic_2.htm

Note:Sorry didn't noticed that Url already been linked.

mverrills
22nd August 2006, 05:06
I last saw the runic in November 03, all but gone with the bow ready to roll over.
Alongside her is a old Jap style fiberglass long liner not more than 150 metres away that was steaming to lay in the lagoon over night at the reef and whilst on autopilot the helmsman fell asleep and up she went.
I know of one family that was salving the Runic for valuables and they were living onboard the ship for a period of 9 months using the ships genorators for power.
About 20 or 30 miles due south of Middleton lies Elizabeth reef and my father was working aboard the salvage vessel "Oneewa" out of Numea,that salvaged a jap long liner there in fact we still have old glass fish floats of that boat.
Middleton and Elizabeth are two of the most beautiful reefs that i have seen but quite isolated to reach.
MV

K urgess
22nd August 2006, 10:40
Raybnz
The gallery seems strangely bare of Runic pictures.
JUst about to post one.
Better res than attaching here
Cheers

Boots
22nd August 2006, 12:30
Back in the 1950s, my parents befriended the 4 apprentices from Runic when she was in Port Adelaide and I was away as an apprentice with Adelaide Steamship Co. They kept up the friendship for some years, to the extent that they visited their families in the UK on their "retirement tripin the early 1960s. One of the lads bought a sextant for me in the UK as it was almost impossible to obtain one in Oz.Sadly, I lost contact with them after my parents died but would be interested to hear if they are still around. My Dad was a baker in North Adelaide, named Rowland King.

meltech
22nd August 2006, 13:02
Sometime late in '61 while between Auckland and Brisbane on the Union Steamship Co. Katea, the Old Man decided to have a look at the Runic which had recently stranded there. Unfortunately he wouldn't get any closer and the camera I had at the time wasn't very flash, hence the poor quality of the photos. The ship looked completely intact, in fact the ensign was still flying. I remember that everyone on our ship were very subdued when we left, as though we were leaving a friend behind.
Regards, John M.

meltech
31st August 2006, 07:35
I am sorry that I posted two similar pictures, am still coming to grips with this modern technology. The image I wanted to post is included as a thumbnail.
Regards, John M.

John.H.Clark
3rd June 2007, 22:53
In 1961 I sailed with an officer who had been the officer of the watch on Runic at time of mishap, 3/o I think. I remember the stunning photos he had taken at low tide when you could clamber some way from the ship. He said that at the public enquiry the presiding officer asked the master if the radar had been on when they hit. he said, I don't know sir, whereupon he was asked what he had done during the month on the reef. the Officer when asked said no sir promptly which got a thank heavens i can get a straight answer somewhere. the officer got a passenger ship posting and the master was pensioned off

John

mansa233
4th June 2007, 08:42
As a SSA cadet in the '70s I was told that the grounding happened around midnight when 3/O and 2/O were in the chartroom handing over the watch. The apprentice came into the bridge to report breakers ahead and was told it was probably just moonlight on the sea, and neither officer bothered to go and have a look.

Paul J Burke
4th June 2007, 10:56
I was lucky enough to see the Runic at "close quarters" when aboard the U .S. S Coy ship Karetu ,when en route to Brisbane. It was a sad sight alright.I believe the Master was Capt Sendall, who ended up as Harbourmaster ,in my home town of Oamaru N .Z. Can somebody verify this???

melliget
4th June 2007, 15:03
Yes, according to The Times (London), the master was Captain C. Sendall. His wife was with him on that last voyage - she was transferred to the destroyer HMAS Vendetta, along with the wife of the chief engineer, Mrs. Gray, the only woman member of the crew, and a handful of men.

From a subequent article, the drama didn't end with the grounding:

ARMED MEN ABOARD STRANDED SHIP
Sydney, April 11.- Armed men have
claimed possession of the abandoned
British freighter Runic, which went
aground on Middleton reef, about 600
miles from here, on February 19, a
spokesman for the Botany Bay
Shipping Company said today.
He said the men boarded the Runic
several days ago, "fully armed", and
claimed the right to salve the vessel. He
refused to disclose how many were in
the party, or the name of any salvage
company for which his company might
be acting. Meanwhile unconfirmed
reports said several tugs from rival
companies were steaming towards the
Runic from Hong Kong.
The Botany Bay spokesman said:
"We have enough armed men on board
to meet any attempt to take the ship
by force. The Runic is still worth
between a quarter and half a million
pounds as scrap in Japan".
The ship belonged to the Shaw Savill
line, but the spokesman claimed that
they abandoned her on the reef, which
has no sovereign country.
The Sydney manager for Shaw
Savill, Mr. D. J. Stilwell, said tonight:
"We still own the Runic. These people
are trespassing on our property".-
Associated Press.

regards,
Martin

Chris Wood
8th June 2007, 06:54
I was on the Cretic alongside in Brisbane when word came that the Runic was aground on Middleton Reef. We loaded a large amount of equipment that it was hoped would be sufficient to pull her off the reef and sailed out to her. On arrival a tug from Sydney came alongside ( I don't remember it's name ) and we worked all night transferring anchors and other ground tackle to her. It was risky work as the ship rolled heavily at times as we drifted a mile or so of the reef and it was to no avail as we know

waimea
8th June 2007, 10:07
Two views of Runic, the first in the 1960s and the second what is left in November 2006. Courtesy Capt. Marc Laroache

mverrills
9th June 2007, 08:15
I cant believe this is all that is left
I was last there exactly 3 years prior
Any photos of the long liner directly alongside her?

waimea
10th June 2007, 14:27
Sorry no - probably gone - I passed then both, close in on aflat calm day in late 1973 on a Union Steam Ship Co vessel

David K
18th January 2008, 01:03
.... When 3/M on the "S.S Lakemba" we used to routinely sail close to Middleton Reef so that the passengers could have a good look ! ( This was dependent on timing and weather, en route from the West Coast of Canada to Sydney ) .... Middleton Reef is really low lying, and does not show up well, if at all , on Radar. Hopefully, by now with the Runic gone, there's some sort of beacon there ! If my memory serves, even in 1966 or so, there were well over 100 known wrecks on this reef that's virtually in the middle of nowhere ! Quite and eerie experience, as approaching, even after I'd seen it a number of times, it looked at first as if this ship was just approaching one, and up closer, it seemed to rise out of the water ! Always remember the sight of what seemed like hundreds of sharks swimming idly around the Reef ! A good incentive to keep a proper look-out posted ! .... David K.

David Mac
7th March 2008, 04:42
Hi everybody, this is my first post here. I was attracted to the SN site from a Google note on mv Katea and Runic on Middleton Reef. This refers to Meltech's post. Firstly I sailed with Shaw Savill as a junior engineer from about 1955, sailing on Moreton Bay. (Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line.) In London I worked by on Ceramic whilst waiting for my ship. At that time Gothic had just returned to London after royal tour duties -- she was still painted white and incidentally suffered a major turbine failure whilst in Sydney. The company whipped the appropriate HPO turbine out of Athenic and flew it to Sydney where it was fitted without anyone knowing a thing about it. At the end of my career with the British Merchant navy in 1958, I got a job delivering the newly built mv Katea to her owners in New Zealand. (Union Steamship Company.) She was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons in Glasgow and I managed to see her when she was still at the yard fitting out. Katea was a great little ship. Loaded with railway lines for her maiden voyage she rolled like anything all the way across the Pacific. Thanks for all the comments on the Runic -- I sailed with a couple of blokes who had fond memories of her. Regards, David Mac

GWB
7th March 2008, 09:14
Of her original crew of seventy two sixty nine remained on board for more than a month, They were taken of by the Arabic. She was also in trouble previous to this while berthing in Hamburg and went ashore on the Gallions Reach in the Thames. Her sister ships where the Suvic and Persic all three built on the Corinthic class but no passengers.

GWB

pelicanos
23rd March 2009, 16:18
I believe that the catastrophe which overcame the runic had already happened to the suvic ,which was a sister ship and built close to the time of the runic in belfast

John Crossland
24th March 2009, 02:16
I believe that the catastrophe which overcame the runic had already happened to the suvic ......

Please explain (EEK)

Middleditch
22nd April 2009, 11:30
Hi there,

Thought this might be of interest:

My father, Leon Middleditch, was the Ship’s Baker on the refrigerated freighter Runic the night that it ran aground on Middleton Reef, 120 miles north of Lord Howe Island. His account of the affair is as follows:

The ship had left from Liverpool and had completed a circuit around Australia consisting of Freemantle-Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane. The next leg was to be across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand, to pick up apples and lamb. Upon leaving Brisbane there was heavy cloud cover due to poor weather, which prevented any sun-sighting causing the ship to be off-course, and resulted in the ship hitting the reef at night. The impact occurred in stormy conditions at around 1am throwing men from their bunks, striking the reef bow-on but with the stern still remaining afloat. Lifeboats were prepared with stores in readiness for an evacuation, but were thankfully not needed. At daylight a crew-member checked the superstructure for damage and found that a fresh water tank in the bow section was damaged. Due to the severe stormy conditions and the empty hold, the ballast tanks were filled in order to stabilise the ship and reduce bouncing on the reef.

After two or three days the rescue ships arrived and some crew and passengers were transferred to sister ships. The remaining crew consisted of a few deck officers, engineers to keep the electric generators running, the bosun and deck crew to assist with refloating efforts, and the cook and baker to feed both the crews of the Runic and the rescue tugs.

A severe tropical storm then blew into the area and swung the ship side-on, and about 10m further onto the reef. The rescue tug crews cut holes into the upper superstructure to feed out seven wire cables, which had anchors attached. These were dropped onto the seabed about a kilometre back from the ship, rather than into the soft coral nearby. The cables were attached to the Runic’s winches in preparation for pulling the ship off the reef and into deeper water. At this stage they were able to pull the ship back to being bow-on to the reef, with the cables fanned out to the seabed behind the ship. The tugs stayed on standby, waiting for the next spring tide to use their power and the Runic’s winches to refloat the vessel. Unfortunately a cyclone warning was received, which caused the attempt to be called off – cables were disconnected and the tugs retreated to Lord Howe Island to shelter from the incoming storm.

The cyclone hit the reef with 10-15m waves that broke over the Runic. Portholes were smashed. The gangway was carried over the ship and lost. Lifeboats were ripped off their davits and hurled over the opposite side of the ship. Despite being heavily ballasted, the Runic was lifted and turned side-on to the waves, and was then bounced a further 200m across the reef, leaving behind a wide swath of coral that was crushed into sand. The steel plating on the seaward side of the ship was split open by the massive waves and the engine room was flooded, cutting power and lights. The noise inside the ship as the big waves pounded the vessel was deafening. The cyclone lasted two and half days before calm weather finally returned.

Due to the lack of power and ventilation in the kitchen, the only suitable area for cooking was in the hold, which was converted for cooking barbeque style, using halved oil drums with cargo dunnage for fuel. Since there was no power for the freezers, any frozen food was wrapped in the dining room table cloths to keep it fresh for as long as possible. The crew were able to catch fish on the reef – grouper and shark – for fresh fare. There was no running water so toilets were flushed with sea water, and showers had to be taken using sea water. Fresh water was strictly rationed. Small items that could be salvaged were dismantled, and the ships’s liquor store was unlocked and packed ready for salvage. The tugs returned to try and salvage the anchor cables, and then left for Sydney.

After a number of weeks, a sister ship arrived to take off all remaining crew and any salvageable material, and the ship was finally abandoned. The crew were then housed in the Naval Barracks in Sydney for a few days, before flying back to the UK via Darwin and India. Relief supplies had been stacked in the ship’s bridge for assistance to any shipwrecked mariners who might meet with the same unfortunate fate as the Runic. In 1978, yachtsman Bill Belcher was shipwrecked on the Middleton reef, and it may be that he was able to make use of these supplies during his epic tale of survival, which culminated in a four-week journey in his liferaft before rescue by a freighter off the Queensland coast.

K urgess
22nd April 2009, 12:31
Welcome aboard, Middleditch, and thanks for your excellent first post.
A first hand account is always of great interest.
Find your way around and have a good voyage.

trotterdotpom
22nd April 2009, 12:55
Interesting story, Middleditch. Nice touch about the stores left for future un fortunates. Hope your father is keeping well.

John T.

Middleditch
24th April 2009, 10:53
Thanks,

Yes he is still getting around at 74 - I was glad he could remember so much of the shipwreck, as it was so long ago. The Runic was his last voyage in the Merchant Navy - no wonder!

Martin

bjkirkwood
5th November 2009, 04:13
excellent stories and information on "Runic" . I was given a old chart to use, on the back was a hand drawn chart of Middleton reef. On it is marked runic, and 2 other wrecks. Its been great to read what happened to her.

spongebob
5th November 2009, 07:21
Middleditch, that is a great account of the Runic’s stranding and brings to mind a story that I have posted before about another stranding

There was a mad mariner, a Welshman named Irfon Nicholas who sailed from Europe to Auckland via various ports in a 30 odd foot Ferro-cement yacht that had the charming name of “Sospan Fach”, Welsh for little saucepan and named after a little ditty that the town of Llanelli is famous for.
It is supposed to be the most famous nonsense song sung at Welsh rugby union matches.

Apparently Irfron’s crew left him in Auckland and when it became time to move on to Sydney he advertised in the local paper for new recruits and took on an Australian male and two NZ women all in search of adventure.
I remember the bloke, a reticent sort of character, and his boat, a doubtful example of a sound craft, and the sort of boat that we used to call a floating septic tank.
The skipper left Auckland in 1974 without notifying the local Marine Authorities and getting a certificate of sea worthiness, headed to North Cape before setting a westerly course toward Australia and by this time he had already started to quarrel with his crew. Some time after the drama that follows I remember reading that the crew expressed doubts about his navigational skills and were told that to get to Australia you just sailed to the top of NZ, turned left and sailed to the best weather advantage until you sighted Aussie then coast down to Sydney!!
Needless to say that plan did not work and they finished up going aground on the notorious Middleton Reef, graveyard to many ships, one of the biggest being the “Runic” that went aground during a cyclone in 1961. Luckily for “Sospan Fach” crew they were able to find shelter and food on a nearby Japanese trawler wreck “Fuku Maru” that ran aground in 1963 in high seas. This wreck has been replenished with supplies and used as a food cache for ship wrecked sailors ever since.
They were eventually able to signal a passing ship and get rescued..


Bob

Billieboy
5th November 2009, 07:29
Bob, it's Llanelli

spongebob
5th November 2009, 07:48
Billiboy, apologies for that, an offense to the Land of my Fathers.
I have a cousin living in Ynysybwl so I should have known better!

Bob

ernhelenbarrett
5th November 2009, 07:50
I was R/O on the Alaric/GWRQ and we were in Brisbane with the Runic. We heard the news that she had hit Middleton Reef, the 3rd Mate had been 3rd Mate on Alaric then had been transferred to the Crusader Line and then on to Runic to return to the UK for Leave. We on Alaric took on the Salvage Equipment, extra bunkers for the Brisbane tug which had gone out to the Reef and Captain Williams (?) the Salvage expert and went to Middleton Reef where we drifted off for over a week transferring the anchors and salvage gear using our lifeboats for that purpose. I spent a lot of time on the Bridge
with the echo-sounder going and when it started to show shallow water informed Captain Vizer and we would start engines and steam out for a bit. I believe when she hit the engines were rung full astern but only one engine responded and caused her to slew sideways on to the Reef. She was tidal when we got there and as bunkers had been discharged had oil all over the superstructure due to the wind and sea. We remained there until running short on fuel and water then proceeded to Sydney and resumed our normal run to Melbourne Adelaide Fremantle Genoa and London. Two things come to mind
1) That was the first time a Master had been allowed to take his wife on a deepsea voyage, also the Manager of West Australia and wife were on board,
2) The R/O had to dismantle all the Radio Equipment himself and lower it on to lifeboats, Marconi insisted.
3) The aircraft taking the crew home to the UK experienced engine trouble and had to make a forced landing.
Regards Ern Barrett

Col Mca
31st December 2009, 08:41
I worked and then lived on Lord Howe Island for some time and have made several boat and plane trips to Middleton Reef.
I have a large selection of photos showing what the ellements can do to a ship in harsh conditions.
I have photos from 1961 to the end of 2008.
The attached show the Monray Frontier, a 23 mtr Fiberglass boat the joined the Runic on the 29th July,1998.
I hope all interested enjoy the pics. I can post more if there is interest.
Col

John Crossland
31st December 2009, 09:18
Hi Col,

Welcome to SN.

I for one would be interested to see further pics of Middleton reef, especially of Runic. (Thumb)

GWB
31st December 2009, 10:34
Just uploaded some pic's to gallery, given to me by the 3rd Engineer who was on watch when she hit the reef he was checking turbo feed pump bearings and nearly ended in bilges his Name is Bruce (jimmy) Andrews and is now retired and living in Fremantel WA. He was on reef for 6 weeks. Have couple more of the lads on way home in Bombay and what is left of her will post later.

John Crossland
31st December 2009, 22:04
Hi GWB,

Many thanks for the set of "Runic on the reef" pics (Thumb)

I asked about a date, but after reading your post here, I can see it was in the 6 weeks following the grounding on 19.2.61.

Col Mca
7th February 2010, 07:02
I have just posted more pics of the Runic on Middleton Reef. These fill in a few gaps. Not much left now however I am hoping to have another look this year sometime.
Regards,
Col

John Crossland
7th February 2010, 07:21
Where did you post them Col, I can't seem to find them ???

Col Mca
7th February 2010, 08:02
John
All seemed okay this end. How long do they take to come up? I uploaded 4 into Maritime Casualties. I will try again
Col

Cisco
7th February 2010, 08:40
About 1960 I acquired a 'Skyphotos of Lympe Airport' catalogue.
In the preamble bit there was a photo of a liberty or victory on the Goodwin Sands in two halves. The other photo on the page was of the Runic outward bound with a bone in her teeth. The text suggested that no such end could befall a well found ship like her....

non descript
7th February 2010, 08:47
John
All seemed okay this end. How long do they take to come up? I uploaded 4 into Maritime Casualties. I will try again
Col

Col, good evening to you; thank you for your kind efforts, but from what I can see, it seems they have not uploaded - perhaps you may wish to try again.
(Thumb)
Mark

Col Mca
25th February 2010, 05:38
I have uploaded more Runic photos today. Sorry for the delay. I fixed my problem with pic. uploads by taking the computer on a one way trip to the tip and have started with a new one.
All good so far.
These pics fill in a few gaps between the pics already there.
Enjoy.
Col

Col Mca
25th February 2010, 10:43
I have uploaded more Runic photos today. Sorry for the delay. I fixed my problem with pic. uploads by taking the computer on a one way trip to the tip and have started with a new one.
All good so far.
These pics fill in a few gaps between the pics already there.
Enjoy.
Col
I have been informed that these pics are too small and thanks to the guidance of another member I will reload these at a larger size in the morning.
How do I get someone to remove the ones I posted today??
Thanks Col

Billieboy
25th February 2010, 11:34
Just PM one of the the moderators that are on duty, they are in red on the front page!

K urgess
25th February 2010, 12:28
They have gone.
It would have been possible to change the existing pictures by using the edit photo button under each of your pictures.

sailingday
25th February 2010, 16:59
Memories of the Runic, she was berthed astern of us (Australia Star) at Aotea quay during the dock strike 1951, we spent ages there the Dominion Monarch sailed to the UK and we still tied up there when she came months later. sad the way she went.

Col Mca
22nd March 2012, 00:56
Recent pic of the Runic. Not much left of her now.

chief's daughter
29th June 2012, 14:32
I'm over the moon the find this site. My father, Eric Deverell, was an engineer on the Runic when she ran aground. My mum was reading an old letter to me and the Runic was talked about, I did some googling and hey presto!

tondav3137
29th June 2012, 20:33
Does anyone have details of the ex Shaw Savill SS Runic which was parked on the Middleton Reef between Aus and New Zealand. I was on another company ship that past her in the sixties and would be interested in seeing photo and info.

There were so many stories about how she came to be put there.

I was chipp'y on the Persic at the time, we were in Auckland when news came thro that she had gone aground. We could not understand why she was on that course, we travelled from Aukland and Wellington to Brisban and also from Brisban to NZ a number of times and giving the reef a wide berth. tondav3137

ernhelenbarrett
30th June 2012, 07:39
I was R/O on Alaric/GWRQ when Runic ran aground. We were both in Brisbane and she sailed before us. We got the news at midnight and were all up looking at the charts. We loaded extra anchors, fuel and the Salvage Master and were the first ship to reach the Runic apart from the tug Forcefull from Brisbane, the extra fuel we carried was for her, then we unloaded the salvage gear into lifeboats and ferried it across but she was tidal even then and a bit of a mess as they had unloaded water and fuel to try and lighten her and the fuel had blown back all over her, and the lads could only reach the storeroom when the tide was low so were quite hungry. We stayed there a week drifting off the reef
using Radar and Echosounder to stop ourselves running aground and finally had to leave as our bunkers were running low heading for Sydney. To cap matters, when they finally abandoned her, the chartered aircraft taking the crew back to the U.K. had to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble
and Marconi made the R/O dismantle ALL the Radio Equipment, (she had an Oceanspan) and transfer itonto the vessel taking off the crew. The C/Off and
3/Off had previously sailed on Alaric, the 3/OFF had just come off the Saracen or Crusader and had transferred to Runic for the trip home after a spell on the NZ/Japan run.
Ern Barrett

Hugh Ferguson
30th June 2012, 18:54
I'm certain that I had a pilot colleague who, I believe was the 3rd mate at the time of the grounding. I can clearly remember him telling me the story and the fact that he had just turned in, after his watch, would indicate that he may have been the 3rd mate.
I cannot remember his name! Any suggestions. He was younger than I and, if still living, probably resides in the Dover area; if so I could probably trace him.

Colin Harrison
15th November 2012, 09:30
My first post. I was the 5th engineer on the Runic when she ran aground on Middleton reef. My part in the saga started with me waking up flat against the forward bulk head of my cabin half asleep I was entering the top of the engine room when the panic Klaxon went off. This was the start of an unforgettable six week period of my life.I would love to hear from any of the other engineers.
Colin

chief's daughter
29th November 2012, 08:47
My first post. I was the 5th engineer on the Runic when she ran aground on Middleton reef. My part in the saga started with me waking up flat against the forward bulk head of my cabin half asleep I was entering the top of the engine room when the panic Klaxon went off. This was the start of an unforgettable six week period of my life.I would love to hear from any of the other engineers.
Colin

Welcome Colin.

I don't suppose you remember my father, Eric Deverell, do you? He was an engineer on the Tunic when it ran aground.

Colin Harrison
30th November 2012, 01:43
Welcome Colin.

I don't suppose you remember my father, Eric Deverell, do you? He was an engineer on the Tunic when it ran aground.

Thanks for the contact. Yes I do remember the Eric I remember he
strongly advised the Captain not to attempt to pull the ship off using
the ships turbines. He did what any good chief does and kept the
equipment running until our last day.

Colin Harrison
30th November 2012, 02:10
I was R/O on Alaric/GWRQ when Runic ran aground. We were both in Brisbane and she sailed before us. We got the news at midnight and were all up looking at the charts. We loaded extra anchors, fuel and the Salvage Master and were the first ship to reach the Runic apart from the tug Forcefull from Brisbane, the extra fuel we carried was for her, then we unloaded the salvage gear into lifeboats and ferried it across but she was tidal even then and a bit of a mess as they had unloaded water and fuel to try and lighten her and the fuel had blown back all over her, and the lads could only reach the storeroom when the tide was low so were quite hungry. We stayed there a week drifting off the reef
using Radar and Echosounder to stop ourselves running aground and finally had to leave as our bunkers were running low heading for Sydney. To cap matters, when they finally abandoned her, the chartered aircraft taking the crew back to the U.K. had to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble
and Marconi made the R/O dismantle ALL the Radio Equipment, (she had an Oceanspan) and transfer itonto the vessel taking off the crew. The C/Off and
3/Off had previously sailed on Alaric, the 3/OFF had just come off the Saracen or Crusader and had transferred to Runic for the trip home after a spell on the NZ/Japan run.
Ern Barrett
Sorry couple of things not quite right in your post. The name of the tug was the Fearless which buy the way ended up in Port Adelaide. we never discharged fuel oil it was dirty ballast water which leaked from our damaged tanks. Food was scarce because we were supposed to resupply in Brisbane but did't. A lot more info if anyone interested

chief's daughter
30th November 2012, 13:03
Thanks for the contact. Yes I do remember the Eric I remember he
strongly advised the Captain not to attempt to pull the ship off using
the ships turbines. He did what any good chief does and kept the
equipment running until our last day.

Thanks for that Colin. I am just about to fly from Australia back to England to be with my dad for his hundredth birthday and am compiling info and messages to put together for the celebrations.

Colin Harrison
1st December 2012, 09:33
Thanks for that Colin. I am just about to fly from Australia back to England to be with my dad for his hundredth birthday and am compiling info and messages to put together for the celebrations.

Please wish Eric a Happy 100th from Colin 5th Engineer SS Runic

Julian Calvin
3rd December 2012, 08:03
In the 1930s my parents had a boat called 'Runic'. From the look of it this is a converted lifeboat presumably off the earlier 'Runic'. Boat was kept at Liverpool and used for trips down to Anglesey.
Have tried attaching pic but no success. Could one of our learned members advise. Do know that photo presently too big.

Julian Calvin
4th December 2012, 07:40
Hopefully have managed to attach pic at last.
Dad owned boat between 1936 and 1939 when she was sold because of fuel shortages. Kept at Liverpool and used for trips to Anglesey

Colin Harrison
30th April 2013, 09:06
Hi there,

Thought this might be of interest:

My father, Leon Middleditch, was the Ship’s Baker on the refrigerated freighter Runic the night that it ran aground on Middleton Reef, 120 miles north of Lord Howe Island. His account of the affair is as follows:

The ship had left from Liverpool and had completed a circuit around Australia consisting of Freemantle-Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane. The next leg was to be across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand, to pick up apples and lamb. Upon leaving Brisbane there was heavy cloud cover due to poor weather, which prevented any sun-sighting causing the ship to be off-course, and resulted in the ship hitting the reef at night. The impact occurred in stormy conditions at around 1am throwing men from their bunks, striking the reef bow-on but with the stern still remaining afloat. Lifeboats were prepared with stores in readiness for an evacuation, but were thankfully not needed. At daylight a crew-member checked the superstructure for damage and found that a fresh water tank in the bow section was damaged. Due to the severe stormy conditions and the empty hold, the ballast tanks were filled in order to stabilise the ship and reduce bouncing on the reef.

After two or three days the rescue ships arrived and some crew and passengers were transferred to sister ships. The remaining crew consisted of a few deck officers, engineers to keep the electric generators running, the bosun and deck crew to assist with refloating efforts, and the cook and baker to feed both the crews of the Runic and the rescue tugs.

A severe tropical storm then blew into the area and swung the ship side-on, and about 10m further onto the reef. The rescue tug crews cut holes into the upper superstructure to feed out seven wire cables, which had anchors attached. These were dropped onto the seabed about a kilometre back from the ship, rather than into the soft coral nearby. The cables were attached to the Runic’s winches in preparation for pulling the ship off the reef and into deeper water. At this stage they were able to pull the ship back to being bow-on to the reef, with the cables fanned out to the seabed behind the ship. The tugs stayed on standby, waiting for the next spring tide to use their power and the Runic’s winches to refloat the vessel. Unfortunately a cyclone warning was received, which caused the attempt to be called off – cables were disconnected and the tugs retreated to Lord Howe Island to shelter from the incoming storm.

The cyclone hit the reef with 10-15m waves that broke over the Runic. Portholes were smashed. The gangway was carried over the ship and lost. Lifeboats were ripped off their davits and hurled over the opposite side of the ship. Despite being heavily ballasted, the Runic was lifted and turned side-on to the waves, and was then bounced a further 200m across the reef, leaving behind a wide swath of coral that was crushed into sand. The steel plating on the seaward side of the ship was split open by the massive waves and the engine room was flooded, cutting power and lights. The noise inside the ship as the big waves pounded the vessel was deafening. The cyclone lasted two and half days before calm weather finally returned.

Due to the lack of power and ventilation in the kitchen, the only suitable area for cooking was in the hold, which was converted for cooking barbeque style, using halved oil drums with cargo dunnage for fuel. Since there was no power for the freezers, any frozen food was wrapped in the dining room table cloths to keep it fresh for as long as possible. The crew were able to catch fish on the reef – grouper and shark – for fresh fare. There was no running water so toilets were flushed with sea water, and showers had to be taken using sea water. Fresh water was strictly rationed. Small items that could be salvaged were dismantled, and the ships’s liquor store was unlocked and packed ready for salvage. The tugs returned to try and salvage the anchor cables, and then left for Sydney.

After a number of weeks, a sister ship arrived to take off all remaining crew and any salvageable material, and the ship was finally abandoned. The crew were then housed in the Naval Barracks in Sydney for a few days, before flying back to the UK via Darwin and India. Relief supplies had been stacked in the ship’s bridge for assistance to any shipwrecked mariners who might meet with the same unfortunate fate as the Runic. In 1978, yachtsman Bill Belcher was shipwrecked on the Middleton reef, and it may be that he was able to make use of these supplies during his epic tale of survival, which culminated in a four-week journey in his liferaft before rescue by a freighter off the Queensland coast.

I was an engineer on the Runic on the reef. Your write up is a bit light on facts. The weather that night was not that bad visabilitty was such that the helmsman could see breakers ahead the deck officers could not see the breakers because they were drinking coca in the chart room. The apprentice who was on the wing of the bridge would not believe the helmsman and insisted they were only white caps. By the time he was convinced by the helmsman to get a deck officer it was too late we were already on the reef. My understanding was that an error in time had been made by the ships pilot which made the deck officers think that they were not due at the reef for another hour.
The engine room was intact right up until we left the ship some six weeks after the grounding. Light power and steam were maintained until the day before we abandoned ship.Which means the sanitation and water services were also maintained.
They removed the hatch cover support steel girders and dumped them over the side when the next bad weather hit the ship was pounded into these girders which damaged the hull.
There are other inaccuracies with your write up but for now that,s enough.
Colin Harrison 5th engineer Runic