Degema

Fairfield
4th August 2004, 10:27
Photographed in Glasgow/s King George V Dock in 1973.DEGEMA came from William Gray/s yard at Hartlepool,a yard often forgotten I think.

Graham the pipe
11th September 2013, 20:45
Did the maiden voyage on her in '58 as a cadet, with Captain 'Paddy' Ralston. One of the best Skippers I ever sailed with. I joined her in Tilbury and was 'greeted', personally, by him. Had done two voyages previously with him on the Calabar so he knew me and insisted on giving me a personal 'tour' of his new baby. His pride and joy were the five ping pong balls 'balanced' on columns of air, within a glass fronted cabinet on the bridge. This was the latest technology for smoke detection in each of the five holds.

Also, in '66, transferred to her, in Lagos, from the Donga, in Sapele, to relieve the second mate who wanted to be home for the birth of his first child. I was a bachelor, she - the Degema - was States bound, hence the swap. Turned out to be an 'eventful' voyage in more ways than one. Took the Kadeik in tow in mid Atlantic and towed her into Fall River. I ended up in hospital on Staten Island so missed her entire East Coast transit. Missed my 'usual activities' with the only consolation being the salvage money was sufficient to buy a car on my return to the UK.

WilliamH
21st September 2013, 16:27
Hello Graham, I always thought it was the Kumba that was towed in from the Atlantic in 1966. The reason I think this, I was in a pub in Tillbury and the CE of the Kumba came in, we had sailed together, on our previous trip,on another K boat, he said to me, " for all your faults I would have you back, so just say the word and I'll get transferred to my ship the Kumba", he said this to me with his own 2E, who I would have replaced,sitting beside him and able to hear every word. I declined and sailed on the Kentung. Somehow the Master of the Kentung knew of this conversation and near the end of my trip on the Kentung, told me I was lucky I had not switched ship because the Kumba was under tow in the Atlantic. The cause of the breakdown being a main engine lub oil pipe had sheared off.

Graham the pipe
21st September 2013, 17:28
Hello Graham, I always thought it was the Kumba that was towed in from the Atlantic in 1966. The reason I think this, I was in a pub in Tillbury and the CE of the Kumba came in, we had sailed together, on our previous trip,on another K boat, he said to me, " for all your faults I would have you back, so just say the word and I'll get transferred to my ship the Kumba", he said this to me with his own 2E, who I would have replaced,sitting beside him and able to hear every word. I declined and sailed on the Kentung. Somehow the Master of the Kentung knew of this conversation and near the end of my trip on the Kentung, told me I was lucky I had not switched ship because the Kumba was under tow in the Atlantic. The cause of the breakdown being a main engine lub oil pipe had sheared off.

'afternoon Bill. 'William' sounds far too 'formal'!

You've got me putting my thinking cap on now! Funny how the memory, or what's left of it, plays tricks after a time. I suppose, as it is now a mere 47 years since the event, I might be forgiven for saying I know I managed to find her but you may be right and me wrong about the letters after the K .

eldersuk
22nd September 2013, 23:43
It seems that a few of them must have been towed out of trouble at one time or another. The Deido, on her maiden voyage southbound, towed the Katha into Lisbon.
I received 60 from the salvage award, about a month's wages at the time.
Coughlan was OM and Charlie Woodward C/O.

Derek

Graham the pipe
23rd September 2013, 07:25
It seems that a few of them must have been towed out of trouble at one time or another. The Deido, on her maiden voyage southbound, towed the Katha into Lisbon.
I received 60 from the salvage award, about a month's wages at the time.
Coughlan was OM and Charlie Woodward C/O.

Derek

Nothing to do with the 'undoubted talents' of the engineers, of course but the Ks seemed to be notorious for engine problems. How come, Derek? Poor design, cutting cost on production, amateurs used during 'putting together'? It is, surely, too much of a coincidence that they ALL had 'problems', be it that they may not, necessarily, have been the same in each instance. What was your 'reaction' on being informed you were joining one? Oh! K? Deary me! Not OK, fine by me! It's a wonder there was never an mv Kaput.

WilliamH
23rd September 2013, 08:56
In about the 1940's when Hendersons changed from steam to diesel they chose 3 cyl Doxford engines, while manoeuvring with these engines, if an attempt was made to start the engine before it came to a complete stop, it could go the wrong way. In the early 50's they started building ships with outdated 4 stoke engines, these engines had an open scavage space and were a nightmare to operate and maintain, I sailed on two such K boats. However I think the main reason for frequent breakdowns, not all requiring a tow, was the penny pinching attitude
Of the owners.

Graham the pipe
23rd September 2013, 10:12
In about the 1940's when Hendersons changed from steam to diesel they chose 3 cyl Doxford engines, while manoeuvring with these engines, if an attempt was made to start the engine before it came to a complete stop, it could go the wrong way. In the early 50's they started building ships with outdated 4 stoke engines, these engines had an open scavage space and were a nightmare to operate and maintain, I sailed on two such K boats. However I think the main reason for frequent breakdowns, not all requiring a tow, was the penny pinching attitude
Of the owners.

Thank you, William, for the informative and not 'unsurprising' summary of the root cause of K boat engine notoriety.

eldersuk
24th September 2013, 00:24
Up until the early 1960s Paddys were building ships to outdated 1930s design. I was once complimented by a surveyor for the cleanliness of the engine room on a 30 year old ship, as he thought.
She was, in fact, a five year old K.

Derek

Graham the pipe
24th September 2013, 07:32
Just shows that one is never too old to learn facts that were there - and that you 'lived' with without realizing - half a century ago. One very positive outcome of this discussion, is that this is resounding proof that you get what you pay for, quality does count and the so called 'management' of PH must have been quite useless and unable to move with the times. ED hierarchy must, also, be held to account for seeing fit to acquire such a company and fleet. Good to hear at least ONE surveyor appreciated your talents, Derek, even if his 'facts' were a few decades out of date!

eldersuk
25th September 2013, 00:36
Graham, it was comparatively clean!
EDs acquired the K boats because (a) they were economical and (b) they were very big carriers at lightish draughts, ideal for creeks cargo.

Derek

Graham the pipe
25th September 2013, 08:32
Graham, it was comparatively clean!
EDs acquired the K boats because (a) they were economical and (b) they were very big carriers at lightish draughts, ideal for creeks cargo.

Derek

A keen, clean, lean, mean, wezubeen, Oh! 'K' machine? Sorry, Derek, hadn't realized we were on the subject of personal pistons.

Your comments, on ED's reasons for the PH acquisition, duly noted and point taken. The only comment I would add, on that subject, is that if I'd been in your department I would have wanted some 'incentive' - financial or otherwise - to want to sail on a K. The hierarchy responsible for the purchase certainly weren't thinking in the best interests of their seagoing, engineering staff when they purchased.

eldersuk
25th September 2013, 22:41
Don't worry Graham, their seagoing engineering staff were perfectly capable of coping with them.

Derek

Graham the pipe
26th September 2013, 07:37
Don't worry Graham, their seagoing engineering staff were perfectly capable of coping with them.

Derek

Yes, Derek, maybe a high percentage of same but I can't help 'suspecting' that your side's supers, when deciding 'who goes where and on what', would be sorely tempted to put the 'known to be better ones' on the Ks where their expertise was far more likely to be called upon.

What a dog's life! How many did you actually sail on and - more importantly - did you actually make K9?

makko
26th September 2013, 15:55
In my time, the Helenus (converted to a car carrier) was widely considered the Bad Boy's ship!

In my opinion, the harder working engine rooms make for the happiest ship. There is nothing like pulling on a fresh boiler suit for another fourteen rounds in 50+C! And, there is nothing like the taste of that first "cold one" knowing that you and everyone pulled their weight and did a damn good job however big or small!

Every ER has its own character - The last M's were a bit of a doddle while the RoRo's were a handful with their electric power requirements and 5 gennys to maintain on a 500 hour schedule.

Sorry to have strayed a bit but I thought they were pertinent comments......

Rgds.
Dave

WilliamH
26th September 2013, 17:36
Yes Graham paddy's ships were hard work, but don't forget EDs built some "lemons", the Perang and Patani spring to mind. I was an ED man but sailed mainly on Henderson ships, though I did two trips on the Patani.

Graham the pipe
26th September 2013, 18:40
Yes Graham paddy's ships were hard work, but don't forget EDs built some "lemons", the Perang and Patani spring to mind. I was an ED man but sailed mainly on Henderson ships, though I did two trips on the Patani.

Hi Bill. Yes the Perang and Patani were the 'mongrels' of the fleet in my day. However, having said that, I did umpteen voyages on the Donga which, though not exactly a K boat, was commissioned by and for PH rather than EDs. We never once had engine trouble in all my time on her.

eldersuk
27th September 2013, 00:08
The later Henderson ships (or electric K boats as we called them) were quite good ships to sail on. I did several very happy voyages on Pegu, Bhamo & Donga.

Derek

eldersuk
27th September 2013, 00:18
Yes, Derek, maybe a high percentage of same but I can't help 'suspecting' that your side's supers, when deciding 'who goes where and on what', would be sorely tempted to put the 'known to be better ones' on the Ks where their expertise was far more likely to be called upon.


I'm not at all sure that they shared your admirable logic!

Derek

Graham the pipe
27th September 2013, 07:24
Yes, Derek, maybe a high percentage of same but I can't help 'suspecting' that your side's supers, when deciding 'who goes where and on what', would be sorely tempted to put the 'known to be better ones' on the Ks where their expertise was far more likely to be called upon.


I'm not at all sure that they shared your admirable logic!

Derek

'morning Derek. I had to read your ultimate sentence/paragraph TWICE to make sure I hadn't 'misread'. Not used to being paid compliments on 'it', as my logic is t'ic according to logistics.(==D)

Graham the pipe
27th September 2013, 07:45
The later Henderson ships (or electric K boats as we called them) were quite good ships to sail on. I did several very happy voyages on Pegu, Bhamo & Donga.

Derek

'morning, again, Derek. I have to ask, what in God's name, is/was an 'electric' K?

Out of curiosity, when were you on the Donga, was it post '66? If it was how did you like the 'Rolls Royce' bar we built for the smoke room? The designer and project manager was one of your predecessors whose name I can't remember. He was known as a 'brilliant engineer' but incapable of getting his Chief's (motor) so was going to be 'stuck' as a second for as long as he stayed at sea. I'll sent you an e of a photograph of self and the third engineer having a drink at the 'self same bar', which was taken circa '65.

makko
27th September 2013, 14:26
I am sure I worked by on the Donga at some point but just cannot remember the details! From what I recall, the engine room was very tidy. Again, no clear memory, but I seem to recall that I was given a bottle of whisky for my Old Fella from one of the engineers. Being young and naive , I was very worried that I would be caught going out the dock gates but I managed to catch a lift and we passed through waving to the bobby.
Rgds.
Dave

richardwakeley
27th September 2013, 14:53
'Eldersuk', you beat me to it! I sailed on 'Dalla' for a very interesting double header on the USA-West Africa service in 1970-71 as my first trip 'allowed to go on your own sparkie'. Capt Leathart. Registered Glasgow. And, as you already said, we called them the electric K-boats. Great trip on both coasts, with Brooklyn a real treat with 'Welcome Home' in big letters on the pier - Brooklyn Army Base. Obviously not really intended for us!

Further to GTP's question, they were called electric K-boats because they had DC electric winches, not steam. And an electrician.

Rgds,
Richard

Graham the pipe
27th September 2013, 20:43
Thought I wasn't mistaken but did check to make certain. This 'Degema' thread remained dormant for almost a decade until I 'revived' same. This was for no other reason than to comment on my time on her. I take this opportunity to correct an error in my original posting, that being the maiden voyage was '59 and not '58. A little matter of a States trip on the Onitsha came between my Calabar time with Paddy R, making me feel even more pleased that he actually remembered a humble apprentice.

Thanks, Richard, for clarifying what an 'electric' K boat was