Martand

Jim S
26th January 2006, 21:23
Attached are a couple of photos of the 1939 built Martand.
First was taken in 1961 showing Martand alongside Finnieston Quay, Glasgow undergoing repairs.
The second is her sunk in River Hooghly in 1964. She was inbound to Calcutta from Chittagong when she grounded on a sandbank. She soon broke her back and became an unexpected source of revenue for local boatmen who soon had her stripped of anything of value.
The rumour in the company at the time was that she was actually at anchor awaiting a berth when she grounded. How true that is I cannot say.

pilot
27th January 2006, 13:52
Jim. believe she was outbound from Calcutta. First discharge port was to be Barcelona. (I Was in Calcutta on another Brock. ship at the time loading for the US East Coast.) Regards. Martin

Jim S
28th January 2006, 17:15
Hi Martin,
Thanks for reply, The position of the wreck toward the left hand side of the river would indicate that she was indeed outward bound. However as she is facing up-river could she have been swinging at anchor awaiting a favourable tide to cross the bar? - I cannot remember what restrictions applied to Hooghly River transits.

Another rumour circulating at the time, probably a scurrilous one, was that as the engine room flooded, the 3rd Engineer sat astride the HP turbine casing. - With all that cold river water threatening the Scotch Boier furnaces I think I would have been taking steps - the engine room ones, two at a time.

Best wishes,

Jim S

Peter Boggon
1st March 2006, 16:29
Attached are a couple of photos of the 1939 built Martand.
First was taken in 1961 showing Martand alongside Finnieston Quay, Glasgow undergoing repairs.
The second is her sunk in River Hooghly in 1964. She was inbound to Calcutta from Chittagong when she grounded on a sandbank. She soon broke her back and became an unexpected source of revenue for local boatmen who soon had her stripped of anything of value.
The rumour in the company at the time was that she was actually at anchor awaiting a berth when she grounded. How true that is I cannot say.

I was Purser/Ch.Stwd. on Martand when she was lost.She was actually leaving
Calcutta at the time homeward bound. She was under way when she went aground and was holed . It was four days before she finally broke her back and we were taken off.
Peter Boggon

Jim S
1st March 2006, 19:21
Peter,
Thanks for clearing up this issue of whether Martand was arriving or leaving.
I guess the currents could have eventually swung her round. - I recall at the time all the rumours that were circulating on the "galley radio" at the time.
Especially the one of her being at anchor - it was even suggested she had ran aground on her own anchor.

Aristo
2nd March 2006, 13:04
The local scrappers soon removed most of the exposed superstructure. I guess that the rest of the hull settled into the river mud and might be still there.

Stevetorkington
8th April 2006, 14:59
Peter,
Thanks for clearing up this issue of whether Martand was arriving or leaving.
I guess the currents could have eventually swung her round. - I recall at the time all the rumours that were circulating on the "galley radio" at the time.
Especially the one of her being at anchor - it was even suggested she had ran aground on her own anchor.


I was third mate on the Martand when we grounded. We were outbound, fully loaded and down to our marks. We had to anchor upstream of the bar at Ullah Barrier to wait for the flood tide to allow us to cross the bar at our draft. I handed over the watch at midnight to the second mate. At about 0100 hrs the anchoring procedure was started with second mate, master (Capt Watkins) and pilot on the bridge. ship was drifting down river with the ebb tide. On nearing the bar the starboard anchor was dropped but at that point the stern started to swing to starboard causing the anchor cable to run under the hull. The anchor was not holding in the soft bottom and because the hull plating had welded vertical joints, but rivetted longitudinal seams, the links of the cable were catching on the plate landings making it impossible to get the cable to run freely out of the hawse pipe. Martand drifted on to the sand bank, dragging the anchor with her. She fetched up starboard beam on to the bank with the anchor having holed her in the Engine room.

The watertight door to the shaft tunnel was closed and flooding was limited to the engine room. Bilge pumps were steam powered (I think) but the water ingress was such that it reached the generators and shut them down. This meant no power to the pumps. Boiler feebd pumps were also electric so boilers were shut down. (I may have got that sequence a bit wrong!!

We were beam on to the Hooghly bore for three days and took a bit of a pounding. We took soundings all rond the ship but did not realise that what we thought of as our upstream "deep water" side was getting shallower some distance out from the ships side, this was caused by the scouring action under the hul brought about by the strong bore tide at the flood. In fact a very shallow bank was built up up stram of us. We had divers down trying to patch the hole in the hull with timbers. this could only be done on the rising tide. We had the West Bengal fire brigade on board with a pump to try to pump out the engine room but it could not lift to the main deck. We put a team of coolies down No 3 hatch clearing cargo from 3 tween deck after bulkhead in order to cut a cole in it so that we could lower the pump into the twen deck and drop a suction into the engine room. In the mean time we had been advised by Calcutta Port Authority that the wanted to swing us through 90 degrees so that the impact of the bore tide would be reduced. A tug and lines into the jungle achieved this aim. It was done at high water with the ship pivotting amidships on the bar. Un fortunately when the manouver was completed it left us with the bow pointing up stream but, unknown to us. we were lying with the newly created sand bar under our midship section. When the tide started to fall we sat on the new sand bar. Our stern was in deeper water as was our bow section and the ship started to bow. The stern section settled much lower very quickly and we started to roll to starboard. I was the deck officer on watch. When I saw the cargo coolies coming out of No 3 hatch like men in a Jack-in-the box I knew something wasn't right. They told me "all the bolts were coming out" Then the derricks started to lift off their mountings and swing about on thier topping lifts It was clear that the ship was breaking in half. with the bottom of the hull concertinaing and the main deck acting as the hinge. I informed Captain Watkins that she was breaking up and he told me to order abandon ship which I did with my pea whistle.

The events from then are a long and a sad story but with elements of farce and comedy that stay with me to this day and are still good dinner party stories in nautical company. The bottom line is that she was declared a total constructive loss. The court of enquiry exonerated the pilot and master and the cause was act of god.

Tony Selman
8th April 2006, 18:30
Steve, that is absolutely fascinating. Thanks very much for that I have heard odds and ends about the Martand loss over the years but we could not possibly wish for a more definitive report than one from one of the deck officers. You actually carried out the Abandon Ship order as well, I wouldn't mind sharing some wine and port over dinner and hearing the full story.

Excellent.

michael james
8th April 2006, 20:05
Steve, Like Tony above, I am so grateful that at last I have heard it for an eye witness and participant in the tragedy. There is no substitute for first hand evidence, all sorts of 10th hand rumours flew round the company at the time, most of them differing considerably with the truth.
I remember feeling for Capt E. Watkins at the time - a nicer man you could not wish to meet.

Well done Steve, a good narrative.

gwzm
8th April 2006, 20:31
We passed by the sunken Martand on our way upstream a couple of days after she stranded - see photo in my gallery. Unfortunately I didn't have a telephoto lens in those days.
I bumped into the Martand's 1 R/O, Chris Connerty, on board the QEII in 1987 and he was telling me about the Indian crew trying to abandon ship with suitcases packed, sewing machines and bicycles.......

Jim S
8th April 2006, 21:06
Steve,
As others have already commented thank you for the definitive story on the loss of Martand. It explains how despite leaving Calcutta, my photo of her shows her as if heading upstream. At least the rumour of her grounding on her own anchor proved true. What I had been concerned about was it was Brocklebank practice to keep the turbines turning over continuously - in fact some ships had a valve that bypassed the ahead manouevring valve and while it could be adjusted to give the required effect sometimes the turbines could accelerate beyond the intended low propeller revs. I had a horrible feeling that this might have contibuted to Martand's demise but your account puts that fear to rest
Thanks again
Jim S

Stuart Smith
9th April 2006, 20:07
Steve
As all the others have done, I would like to thank you for your account. I took a couple of slides of her when we were heading for Cal. on Makrana in about July. It was around 4 in the morning and the light was, to say the least, bad but I have them in My Gallery if you have not already viewed them.
Thanks once again.
Stuart