SS Kelvinbank

Jocko
9th November 2011, 18:09
I saw the SS Kelvinbank broken in half on the rocks on Ocean Island (now called Banaba) in 1960. We were told by the Aussie Phosphate workers that there was another wreck under her. I`ve since found out that the other wreck was the SS Ooma.

Alan Rawlinson
9th November 2011, 20:53
I saw the SS Kelvinbank broken in half on the rocks on Ocean Island (now called Banaba) in 1960. We were told by the Aussie Phosphate workers that there was another wreck under her. I`ve since found out that the other wreck was the SS Ooma.

Hallo Jocko

Yes, she went up in 1953 (corrected) - I served on the sister (Liberty) Maplebank, and we arrived at Ocean Island the following year. - it was a spectacular sight, with only a couple of ragged plates joining the 2 halves.. There are some photos of the wreck which I have posted on SN. Believe the Master's name was Capt. Shorthouse. When we arrived she was bent double at No 4 hatch approx - expect there is less of her showing now. Does anyone have a recent sighting?

jimthehat
9th November 2011, 23:59
Hallo Jocko

Yes, she went up in 1954 - I served on the sister (Liberty) Maplebank, and we arrived at Ocean Island only a few weeks after the accident - it was a spectacular sight. There are some photos of the wreck which I have posted on SN. Believe the Master's name was Capt. Shorthouse. When we arrived she was bent double at No 4 hatch approx - expect there is less of her showing now. Does anyone have a recent sighting?

Alan,
you have confused me, I thought the kelvinbank left uk approx the same time that we left in the maplebank,I thought that she had gone aground in jan1953,but maybe you and our resident keeper of the files can prove me wrong.

Alan Rawlinson
10th November 2011, 09:03
Alan,
you have confused me, I thought the kelvinbank left uk approx the same time that we left in the maplebank,I thought that she had gone aground in jan1953,but maybe you and our resident keeper of the files can prove me wrong.

You could be right, Jim.

Here is a snap from Maplebank days at Ocean Island - we are on " Smoko " from the never ending chipping jobs... The Kelvinbank wreck can be seen over the shoulder of the other Apprentice - Jim Haig ( Where are you now, Jim?)


Cheers/Alan

exsailor
10th November 2011, 11:47
Date of grounding was 6th January, 1953.

jimthehat
10th November 2011, 13:18
You could be right, Jim.

Here is a snap from Maplebank days at Ocean Island - we are on " Smoko " from the never ending chipping jobs... The Kelvinbank wreck can be seen over the shoulder of the other Apprentice - Jim Haig ( Where are you now, Jim?)


Cheers/Alan

can you remember the fun at the end of loading dragging the hoses up to the monkey island and starting the hose down.

regards

jim

Alan Rawlinson
10th November 2011, 14:52
can you remember the fun at the end of loading dragging the hoses up to the monkey island and starting the hose down.

regards

jim

Yes, it was a nice feeling, and similar to leaving any port after a long stay ( pre containers!) when we set to, throwing ( sometimes perfectly good) timber and who knows what else over the side, and hosed down. In the old wood sheathed deck ships, it was great to see the foredeck glistening after the wash down - often with new scars and gouges from the beams etc. Was amazing how those old Bankline ships could be made spick and spam, ready for anything. Talk about adventure!

Jocko
10th November 2011, 17:46
It wasn`t fun loading phosphates if you were in the engineroom. All portholes closed. Engineroom skylights closed, ventilation fans stopped and then we had to change the cooling hoses on the Doxford. Right at the top of the engineroom, the hottest part. Thank God it was only one day and it was such a relief when we sailed. After the hose down you could open your porthole and breathe beautiful cool evening air. It was just about the best run I ever had. 10 days up from NZ to either Ocean Island or Naura. You got a chance to make some money with a Sunday at sea. One day loading and then 10 days back to NZ. Then a week or so going around the NZ coast partying every night. What a life! What a memory!

jimthehat
10th November 2011, 23:56
It wasn`t fun loading phosphates if you were in the engineroom. All portholes closed. Engineroom skylights closed, ventilation fans stopped and then we had to change the cooling hoses on the Doxford. Right at the top of the engineroom, the hottest part. Thank God it was only one day and it was such a relief when we sailed. After the hose down you could open your porthole and breathe beautiful cool evening air. It was just about the best run I ever had. 10 days up from NZ to either Ocean Island or Naura. You got a chance to make some money with a Sunday at sea. One day loading and then 10 days back to NZ. Then a week or so going around the NZ coast partying every night. What a life! What a memory!

And just think of the two year trips and getting all that tax back,life was good in the bank line.

jim

John Rogers
11th November 2011, 00:49
What was the story about the wreck on top of a wreck.?????

Hamish Mackintosh
11th November 2011, 01:39
It wasn`t fun loading phosphates if you were in the engineroom. All portholes closed. Engineroom skylights closed, ventilation fans stopped and then we had to change the cooling hoses on the Doxford. Right at the top of the engineroom, the hottest part. Thank God it was only one day and it was such a relief when we sailed. After the hose down you could open your porthole and breathe beautiful cool evening air. It was just about the best run I ever had. 10 days up from NZ to either Ocean Island or Naura. You got a chance to make some money with a Sunday at sea. One day loading and then 10 days back to NZ. Then a week or so going around the NZ coast partying every night. What a life! What a memory!

Don't recall loading in one day at Ocean Island, not with the ships gear and lighters bringing tubs of Phosphate alonside,and I don't think it was all that dusty, however Nauru was a one day nightmare, with that cantilever conveyor system they used, you ate it, and every breath was loaded with it, and if you turned in without shaking out the sheets you slept with it, but I agree once the hatches were battened down, and the decks washed down, it was a great run south to "party Time"(dependant of course as to where you were scheduled to Unload,)

Alan Rawlinson
11th November 2011, 07:57
What was the story about the wreck on top of a wreck.?????

Believe the Kelvinbank was moved a bit after touching the ground but snagged on an older hull (Ooma?) which spelt the end for her. There is an account somewhere on line that I have read.

Talking about wrecks, there were a few at the parties in NZ and Oz I remember. Some of the ' ladies' the white crew brought back on board had to be seen to be believed!

Am I right in thinking we did 3,4,or 5 consecutive trips up and down with phosphate. The dedicated phosphate ships were locked on the run, but did any Bankline ships clock up a higher number than 5?

Jocko
11th November 2011, 12:08
Hello Hamish, were you on a sailing ship? I was on that run in 1960-61 and both Nauru and Ocean Island had a giant conveyor system that dropped the phosphates from a great height and the dust was really bad. I remember how fine it was and got into everything. Talking tax rebates, we were out for 18 months and even though we used to drop the revs a wee bit we always got a complaint from the bridge with that we arrived in Liverpool two days short of our tax-free year. What a bunch of numpties!
Oh by the way just in case I hurt the feelings of you delicate Bankliners I was on the beautiful Baron Jedburgh. Boom Boom!

jimthehat
11th November 2011, 15:31
Hello Hamish, were you on a sailing ship? I was on that run in 1960-61 and both Nauru and Ocean Island had a giant conveyor system that dropped the phosphates from a great height and the dust was really bad. I remember how fine it was and got into everything. Talking tax rebates, we were out for 18 months and even though we used to drop the revs a wee bit we always got a complaint from the bridge with that we arrived in Liverpool two days short of our tax-free year. What a bunch of numpties!
Oh by the way just in case I hurt the feelings of you delicate Bankliners I was on the beautiful Baron Jedburgh. Boom Boom!

In the early 50s I think we did 4 trips up to the islands 2 to nauro which was approx 8 hours and two to ocean island which was definitely much slower loadind.
A white crew bank boat plus a white crew baron boat in the same Oz port meant chaos for the locals and no work done on board.

jim

Alan Rawlinson
11th November 2011, 16:23
In the early 50s I think we did 4 trips up to the islands 2 to nauro which was approx 8 hours and two to ocean island which was definitely much slower loadind.
A white crew bank boat plus a white crew baron boat in the same Oz port meant chaos for the locals and no work done on board.

jim

Played cricket on Ocean Island against the British Phosphate boys, and I think we lost.... Batting, the ball would sometimes disappear into the deep fissues left after the phosphate rock had been removed. Seem to remember the crew were reasonably sober.

IRW
11th November 2011, 16:37
Loading at Ocean and Naura by cantileveer but on Northbank loaded at Makatea (tahiti) via baskets took at least two days (1957/58) as far as I remeber. IRW

jimthehat
11th November 2011, 16:58
Played cricket on Ocean Island against the British Phosphate boys, and I think we lost.... Batting, the ball would sometimes disappear into the deep fissues left after the phosphate rock had been removed. Seem to remember the crew were reasonably sober.

Did they have a RSL club on Ocean,or were they just on the copra islands,had some wild nights in them.

jim

Jocko
11th November 2011, 17:08
I certainly don`t envy you lads who had to spend more than one day with all hatches battened down almost exactly on the Equator. I never heard of any animosity between the Bankboats and the Baronboats. We all just went for a good time.

Joe C
11th November 2011, 18:45
We loaded in Ocean Island from "tubs" brought out on barges.The skill was in timing the tubs out of the barges to match the Pacific swells.
Watched one of our unfortunate crew members lose a finger when releasing the anchor cable senhouse slip as we left on one occasion on the Moraybank in 1954.
We only did two phosphate trips,one to Ocean and one to Nauru.The best part was the time we spent discharging on the Aussie and N Z coasts

Jocko
12th November 2011, 11:59
Was it up at Ocean Island and Naura that the deckies had to bring the anchor inboard so as to hitch onto the buoys for loading? I watched them one time and as an engineer I admired their skill. Don`t know how they got the anchor back out again. I fancy they wouldn`t try it if it was a rough sea.

pete
12th November 2011, 12:02
I think that if you check the Gallery under "Elmbank" you will find a fuzzy image of the "Oona (Ooma??) taken by my Father in 1935 (I think).......pete

Johnnietwocoats
16th November 2011, 00:55
Here are photos of the Ooma and the Oonah....

Enjoy JTC

Hamish Mackintosh
16th November 2011, 02:25
Hello Hamish, were you on a sailing ship? I was on that run in 1960-61 and both Nauru and Ocean Island had a giant conveyor system that dropped the phosphates from a great height and the dust was really bad. I remember how fine it was and got into everything. Talking tax rebates, we were out for 18 months and even though we used to drop the revs a wee bit we always got a complaint from the bridge with that we arrived in Liverpool two days short of our tax-free year. What a bunch of numpties!
Oh by the way just in case I hurt the feelings of you delicate Bankliners I was on the beautiful Baron Jedburgh. Boom Boom!

No it was a go anywhere at ten knots Samboat, the Ivybank, we were out twenty months with a great deal of the time running phosphate south, but I will admit it was a little before your time there, 1949 to 51,I have a picture someplace of the little lighter boats bringing phosphate alongside, and as I recall the shifts ashore loading the tubs the lighters carried, worked eight to four, and four to twelve, however they had to be knocked off if it rained, something to do with the natives health, and I have seen us be there four days, on more than one occasion,in fact one trip we were half loaded and had to make a run to Tarrawa for shelter, where we lanquished for a week doing nothing but playing soccer against the natives during the day, and drinking coconut champagne at nite,besides swatting sand flies and land crabs. But as you say the best part was at the unloading end as long as it was not Port Lincoln

Alan Rawlinson
16th November 2011, 08:59
Hey, steady on ! Nothing wrong with Port Lincoln. They had pubs and girls in my day, two essential ingredients for a happy stay.


No it was a go anywhere at ten knots Samboat, the Ivybank, we were out twenty months with a great deal of the time running phosphate south, but I will admit it was a little before your time there, 1949 to 51,I have a picture someplace of the little lighter boats bringing phosphate alongside, and as I recall the shifts ashore loading the tubs the lighters carried, worked eight to four, and four to twelve, however they had to be knocked off if it rained, something to do with the natives health, and I have seen us be there four days, on more than one occasion,in fact one trip we were half loaded and had to make a run to Tarrawa for shelter, where we lanquished for a week doing nothing but playing soccer against the natives during the day, and drinking coconut champagne at nite,besides swatting sand flies and land crabs. But as you say the best part was at the unloading end as long as it was not Port Lincoln

Alan Rawlinson
27th November 2011, 12:15
Found a couple of snaps taken about 1 year after the loss - every mariner's worst nightmare! ( Unless you needed to be home quick)

IBlenkinsopp
1st June 2012, 11:30
Hi Guys,
There is an interesting account of the loss of the Kelvinbank and the attempts to refloat it by the Titanbank and the salvor Capt. Herd as told by the third mate of the Kelvin at the time.
Contained in 'Liberty (the ships that won the war)' by Peter Elphick.
Also can anyone shed any light on the ballast that the Sam boats carried when light ship, I know they would have their DBs full and peaks too, but I heard they had to carry about 1500 tons in the tweens, can any one confirm this. Did any one experience any structural failures on these ships?
Any first hand info gladly received

Eddie B

Alan Rawlinson
1st June 2012, 17:55
Hallo Eddie

Thanks for the ' Kelvinbank ' ref. Will have a look as I took pics of her a year after the loss, still joined by one plate only, as far as we could see.

I served almost 2 years on the ' Maplebank ' liberty ( ex Samwash)
and this included running up and down through the Tasman sea in pretty rough conditions, and we never had the need to ballast other than in the DB's when light ship. This was on the way up to Ocean Island and Nauru to load phosphate.

My personal view is that the that the structural failures associated with the Liberty's have been taken out of proportion given the number of ships afloat v recorded failures. Would be interesting to have the stats of other types of vessels and the percentage of hull failures for comparison purposes - guess they exist somewhere. The early welds on the Libertys were vulnerable to brittle fracture particularly when operating in zero or sub zero temperatures.

Hamish Mackintosh
1st June 2012, 19:44
Hey, steady on ! Nothing wrong with Port Lincoln. They had pubs and girls in my day, two essential ingredients for a happy stay.

Didn't see many girls in port lincoln,very thin on the ground,but then there was nothing much of anything as I recall, one jetty with a single rail line running its lenght, two pubs that closed sharp at six, with no back door opening with a wink and a nodd, in fact I never saw, or was in a sly grog in the place, the unloading took forever unloading with the ships gear, and if there was another ship on the Jetty and they had loaded the wagons on the outboard end, everything came to a stop while they shunted out the full ones and brought back in empty ones,A one man police force who took his job to heart ,and whoes mode of conveyance was an Areil motor cycle and side car in which he seemed to have no trouble in whisking the drunks off to jail,na it was not one of my favourite stop overs. We were, as an aside, in Port Lincoln when the Mill Hill(?)came in with about a 45 degree list due to a cargo shift, in fact they moved us off the jetty in order that she could come along side, cheers H

Alan Rawlinson
2nd June 2012, 07:59
Hallo Hamish,

You could be right about Port Lincoln - and I might be mixing it up with Port Pirie. Can recall having a great ( but hazy) time in Port Pirie, and leaving some of the Liverpool crew behind in Port Pirie when we sailed. They were happily serving beer in the local pubs, having found a new vocation.

Then there was Wallaroo.....

BPCkid
21st October 2012, 01:19
G'Day, I am the son of the harbour Master on Ocean Island in 1952 & Capt. Herd was staying with us during the salvage attempt. I am in possession of the papers recording the formal enquiry into the grounding. Adrian. Hi Guys,
There is an interesting account of the loss of the Kelvinbank and the attempts to refloat it by the Titanbank and the salvor Capt. Herd as told by the third mate of the Kelvin at the time.
Contained in 'Liberty (the ships that won the war)' by Peter Elphick.
Also can anyone shed any light on the ballast that the Sam boats carried when light ship, I know they would have their DBs full and peaks too, but I heard they had to carry about 1500 tons in the tweens, can any one confirm this. Did any one experience any structural failures on these ships?
Any first hand info gladly received

Eddie B

Alan Rawlinson
21st October 2012, 07:23
G'Day, I am the son of the harbour Master on Ocean Island in 1952 & Capt. Herd was staying with us during the salvage attempt. I am in possession of the papers recording the formal enquiry into the grounding. Adrian.

Hi Adrian

Have sent you a private message just now.

Re the papers - Is there any information you can share with the Bank Line SN readers? Would be interesting for us older ones!

PS Was the Master called Shorthouse or similar?

BPCkid
21st October 2012, 09:20
G'Day Alan, Yes, the Master's name was R E Shorthouse UK Cert.52130. By the time my father reached the bridge at 0603 she had stopped engines and by 1000 hrs No3 hold was flooded after settling onto the shaft and propellor of the wreck of the ss OOMA. Titanbank responded to the SOS transmitted and she arrived on the 7th January to attempt a tow. On January 11th Captains Herd and Bulman formally took charge of the salvage attempt. By 16th January the engine room was tidal and she had lost primary power. On January 18th at 1000 hrs the Master, Officers and crew abandoned ship. Cheers, Adrian.

Julie-Anne
8th February 2013, 03:59
Hello, I was just browsing the web looking for information on "Kelvinbank" when I came across your conversation. My Grandfather, Kevin Lennon, was in charge of the power house on Ocean and Nauru for a number of years and was a mad photographer. I thought you may be interested in one of the photos I now have.

Johnnietwocoats
8th February 2013, 05:13
Hello, I was just browsing the web looking for information on "Kelvinbank" when I came across your conversation. My Grandfather, Kevin Lennon, was in charge of the power house on Ocean and Nauru for a number of years and was a mad photographer. I thought you may be interested in one of the photos I now have.

Julie-Anne....That is an awesome photograph....Stunning...

BPCkid
8th February 2013, 06:38
Hello, I was just browsing the web looking for information on "Kelvinbank" when I came across your conversation. My Grandfather, Kevin Lennon, was in charge of the power house on Ocean and Nauru for a number of years and was a mad photographer. I thought you may be interested in one of the photos I now have.

G'day Julie-Anne make contact please,desperately looking for more images of O.Is. & Nauru. My father was Harbour Master for 27 years & I was on the launch when SS Kelvinbank hit the reef that morning January 6th 1953 at 0603Hrs. Your Grand Father would have worked with Bluey Reynolds who was in charge Power House - our neighbour. SS Rowanbank had left OI on 3rd January and SS Titanbank responded to the Kelvinbank's SOS & steamed across from Nauru to try to tow her off. Kelvinbank's Master was Roy Ernest Shorthouse Master's Foreign Certificate UK No.52130. BPCkid.

Julie-Anne
8th February 2013, 07:56
Hi BPC Kid from a BPC Grandkid! I actually don't know how to privately message you. I know I have many images that may interest you, so if you walk me through it I'd be happy to share some.

R58484956
8th February 2013, 16:50
Julie, Click on BPCKid (top LH corner) and you will see Send Private Message to bpckid click that as well. then type your message and send

Alan Rawlinson
8th February 2013, 19:56
Hello, I was just browsing the web looking for information on "Kelvinbank" when I came across your conversation. My Grandfather, Kevin Lennon, was in charge of the power house on Ocean and Nauru for a number of years and was a mad photographer. I thought you may be interested in one of the photos I now have.

Great snap, and quite a find! Thank You.

Is that the only one of the ship, I wonder?

very best wishes
alan rawlinson

BPCkid
9th February 2013, 07:04
I think that if you check the Gallery under "Elmbank" you will find a fuzzy image of the "Oona (Ooma??) taken by my Father in 1935 (I think).......pete

The SS Ooma was wrecked on Sydney Point in 1927. No other vessels had been wrecked on Sydney Point until SS Kelvinbank grounded on 6th. January 1953 and it was the wreckage of the Ooma which punctured Kelvinbank through her double bottom in No.3 Hold. SS Ocean Transport was wrecked outside the boat harbour wall about 30 chains to the North of Kelvinbank in 1936 or 37. The SS Imperial Monarch ran aground but was refloated in the same year ('36) about a further 26 chains further North of Ocean Transport and right alongside No.2 Drive Unit for the phosphate conveyor. This information was taken directly from Captain H.F.Town's evidence at the Court of Enquiry ~ Harbour Master and Lloyds Agent on Ocean Island 1948 to 1961....BPCkid.