Ayrshire, Socotra, 1965

andysk
5th July 2006, 16:09
Has anything ever been written about the stranding of the "Ayrshire" on Socotra in 1965 - either officially or unofficially ?

Cheers

Andy

treeve
5th July 2006, 16:27
Accident: AYRSHIRE (Greenock Dockyard 1957/ gen cargo)
Ships Monthly
1998/10, p32
"The Loss of the AYRSHIRE", struck submerged object, 23 Mar 1965, beached + written off

Best Wishes
Raymond

andysk
6th July 2006, 11:24
Hi Treeve ...

Many thanks for this, now I know where to look in my friend's archive !

Cheers

Andy

Tony Breach
6th July 2006, 12:13
Hi Andy,

SS AYRSHIRE of Scottish Shire Line, Glasgow. Built 1957 by Greenock Dockyard Co., 9425 GRT.

During voyage from Liverpool to Sydney with generals struck submerged rock off Abd-al-Kuri on 23.03.65. She was beached on a nearby sand beach with serious bottom damage but after considerable salvage work she was refloated on 26.04.65. Minutes after refloating she drifted ashore at Bandar Saleh, grounding heavily, and was subsequently abandoned as a CTL.

Another one bites the dust!

Tony.

Aristo
6th July 2006, 13:34
Does any one knows if the wreck remains there or if it sunk?

Are there any photos of the wrecked ship?

paul0510
6th July 2006, 14:08
pic of her here in better times:

http://www.merchant-navy.net/Pictures/ayrshire.html

Google-earthed the south coast of Abd-al-Kuhr to the only sandy beach visible here 12°10'53.79"N 52°13'27.27"E. There is a shadow on the beach but whether it is the remains of the Ayrshire is debatable.

trotterdotpom
6th July 2006, 16:29
Has anything ever been written about the stranding of the "Ayrshire" on Socotra in 1965 - either officially or unofficially ?

Cheers

Andy

I remember reading about Socotra in the Admiralty Pilot book for the area in the '70s. Here's a quotation from the book which I found on the internet: "The Arabian Sea Pilot: It is thought that the people living on the island of Socotra may still be cannibals as the dissapearance of survivors from wrecks is common."

Maybe that's why nothing much has been heard!

John T.

john strange
15th July 2006, 07:34
I remember reading about Socotra in the Admiralty Pilot book for the area in the '70s. Here's a quotation from the book which I found on the internet: "The Arabian Sea Pilot: It is thought that the people living on the island of Socotra may still be cannibals as the dissapearance of survivors from wrecks is common."

Maybe that's why nothing much has been heard!

John T.

Many a true word spoken in jest.

Freo
18th July 2006, 08:21
When I sailed on my first ship (SS Argyllshire) in 1966, I remember that the Chippy had been on board the Ayrshire at the time of her running aground. He had quite a few stories to tell, but their content has faded with time I'm afraid.

Freo

Chris Isaac
29th July 2006, 15:45
I was Senior Cadet on the Ayrshire when she struck an uncharted rock off the coast of Abd al Kuri at 5 pm on 23rd March 1965. I was on the bridge at the time it happened and was put on the wheel to steer her towards the beach to stop her sinking.

I had the good sense to write a diary of the entire event as well as collecting a good supply of photos.

I will enter the whole lot into a document and post it here soon

R58484956
29th July 2006, 15:51
Welcome Chris to the site enjoy it and all it has to offer. I am sure other members will eagerly look forward to your comments and photos

andysk
31st July 2006, 14:02
Hi Chris ...

Welcome to the board, and thanks for this response, I am about to PM you separately about this.

Cheers

Andy

Chris Isaac
9th August 2006, 15:33
The Loss of S.S. Ayrshire
By Christopher N Isaac – Senior Cadet


Ayrshire was the flagship of the Clan Line fleet. A vessel of 535ft in length and 69ft beam, her steam turbines coupled to twin screws gave her a service speed of 19 knots.

On March 3rd 1965 Ayrshire left Gladstone Dock Liverpool bound for Brisbane calling at Aden for bunkers and Cochin to change the crew.

It seemed right from the start of the voyage that Ayrshire was not meant to reach Australia. Shortly after rounding Cape St. Vincent the port boiler caught fire. Once the fire had been extinguished she limped into Gibraltar where she stayed for one week whilst no fewer than 1228 tubes were either plugged or removed from the boiler.

After an uneventful voyage from Gibraltar to Aden, apart from the Suez Canal that provides a unique change of smell for a day, we sailed for Cochin in southern India to change crews.
Once clear of Aden we set a course of 102ºT that would take us about a mile south of the island of Abd Al Kuri (about 70m off Cape Guardadfui). Little did we realise what a great part this tiny island was to have in our lives in the five weeks that lay ahead.

Twenty nine hours after leaving Aden the island appeared on the horizon at about 1500 on the 23rd March. At 1610 the western end of this mountainous outpost was abeam to port and the seven passengers started observing and taking photographs. The island is a striking sight with its barren red mountains towering over us. The whole coast line was sheer except for a sandy bay halfway along the southern coast called Bandar Saleh. No-one thought anything was special about this little beach with its brilliant white sand, but very soon this beach would probably save a few lives.

At the eastern end of the bay was a mountain 2038ft in height and less than a mile away. “If the Old Man gets any closer we’ll hit this island!”

Five minutes later at 1710 we did!

I had just taken the hold temperatures and was in the chart room entering them into the log book. Just as I stepped out into the wheelhouse there was a tremendous crunch and the bow reared up and the ship rolled heavily to port. My first instinct was to dive for the wheel as at the time she was on the Arkas auto-pilot. No sooner had the ship bounced off the rocks than two things happened. The Captain bounced onto the bridge and the ship took on a permanent list to port.

The Carpenter was ordered to sound all the tanks, peaks and bilges to ascertain the likely damage. Twenty minutes later “chippy” announced to an interested audience that holds two, three and four each had about 30ft of water in them. By some miracle the rocks had missed the engine room and we still had full power available. The list has now increased to 20º and it was clear that we were sinking.

Now that little bay was remembered and Captain Macmillan ordered the ship about and we headed for the bay, now about 4 miles away. The objective being to run the ship aground to stop her sinking. We had not gone much more than half a mile we it was realised that we were going down a lot faster than we at first thought and the order was given to clear away the lifeboats. Shortly after the order was given to abandon ship and three of the four boats with all available provisions and lowered away with all the passengers and nearly all the ship’s company.

A handful of us were left on board, the Master, Chief Officer, myself, a couple of engineers and the Second Carpenter. Once we were in the bay the carpenter and I were ordered forward to prepare both anchors for letting go prior to beaching. There was always going to be an element of guesswork about when to let them go as we were unsure of both the rate of shelving of the beach and or rapidly increasing draft. The anchors were both let go and as soon as the bow struck the beach full ahead was ordered on both engines and Ayrshire was driven firmly aground.

We were safe! Where were the lifeboats? For it was now dark and they were out of sight. We were to learn later that they, unsure of our fate, were firing distress rockets at the Blue Funnel liner Pyrrhus with any response. We still had the motor lifeboat aboard so that was launched and we set off to locate and tow the other three back to the ship. By 2300 all were back on board and time for a beer!

The next day head office radioed to inform us that Clan Mactaggart was on its way to stand by us and would be followed shortly after by Clan Malcolm to whom we would transfer our passengers and they in turn would transfer four cadets to assist us. They also asked for our assessment of the damage.
After a thorough inspection we found the generators to be fully operational although the starboard diesel tank had been holed 64 tons of diesel remained in the port tank. The rate of ingress of water in holds 2, 3 and 4 was found to be greater than the ship’s pumps could deal with while keeping the engine room dry. The duct keel was full of water and the starboard freshwater tank had been breached.
Left intact was 70 tons of boiler water and 100 tons of domestic water, all on the port side. In addition there was 150 tons of fresh water ballast in reserve in the fore and after peaks.


Later in the day another message arrived informing us that the company had agreed to salvage operations being conducted by Smits of Rotterdam under Lloyds Open Form “No Cure- No Pay”. The tug Oceaan would arrive on Sunday or Monday followed on Tuesday or Wednesday by the tug Poolzee. A coaster, Seiyun, was chartered to come and receive cargo and HMS Anzio would come by the following Friday to render assistance. Two Superintendents; Captain Mitchell – Marine Superintendent and Mr Colson – Engineering Superintendent were flying to Aden the next day in order to assess the damage for themselves. (did they think we were making this up?)

By the 25th we had resigned ourselves to a long stay away from civilisation and time to get to work! The derricks were topped and we started jettisoning 150 tons of bagged salt and No.5 tween deck. This was back breaking work, officers and cadets were not spared stevedoring duties, specially the cadets. It was painful work as salt in large quantities stings.

On the 26th an RAF Shackleton flew low overhead several times taking photographs of the ship and the sea around us. In the afternoon HMS Anzio arrived alongside but she was not able to offer much assistance apart from giving us some fresh water and placing her diving team at our disposal. Two divers went down and located a tear 40ft long and 3ins wide down the starboard side of No2. Another slightly small tear was found in No4. This one was successfully plugged with a cork filled dracone.
In the evening Clan Mactaggart informed us that Clan Malcolm would arrive the next day to embark the seven passengers and six dogs.

27th March, In the morning the transfers to and from Clan Malcolm were effected and in the afternoon Oceaan arrived. The Dutch salvage team under the leadership of the Salvage Master, Captain Rom Colthoff, starting rigging salvage pumps in the three breached holds. An unpleasant task as the rocks had penetrated the double bottoms and the water in the lower holds had a thick layer of fuel oil over it.

A few days later the coaster Seiyun arrived from Aden and we commenced filling her with rolls of lino, ceramic tiles, carpets, machinery and cars. Once she had gone we turned our attentions to discharging No 1 tween decks. From the upper we jettisoned chemicals and from the lower, palettes of fire bricks. At first we were just jettisoning them but soon found that we were grounding ourselves on them so they were loaded onto Poolzee for her to dump at sea.

10th April, Clan Maclean arrived on her way to India and to on board seven of our ratings for repatriation. Clan Maclennan and Clan Menzies called by to offer good wishes and to have a little look!

11th April early evening two helicopters approached from the over the island. To our astonishment one hovered over the poop and an officer was lowered on a wire. He delivered the morning papers and then went. Both had come from HMS Albion. We were told that she was to lend “valuable” assistance. In reality she anchored on the other side of the island, the crew had enjoyed a game of football on the beach, and a party of sailors came and “borrowed” 80 gallons of petrol. She then sailed for the Far East. It is comforting to know that the Royal Navy is always there to lend a hand at time of adversity!

12th April a magnificent piece of oceanic splendour appeared around the headland. The 3,000 ton Panamanian freighter Ais Nicholas, built in 1916. After very little help from a very unco-operative Greek crew we got her alongside and for the next three days filled her with much the same sort of cargo as Seiyun had taken.


17th April an attempt was made to refloat the vessel so that a decision could be made about where she would be taken. Several options were available: Tow to Bombay as this was the nearest drydock large enough. This option had to be taken up very soon as the Monsoon season would start shortly. Secondly to tow her to Durban but the same monsoon argument applied. Third was to tow her to Malta but this meant going through the Suez Canal on a sinking ship, something the Canal Authorities where not overly enthusiastic about. So that left options one and two and time was running out.
The attempt to refloat was unsuccessful and the company was told that unless the salvors provide much greater pumping resources the vessel will become a constructive total loss.

700 tons of accessible cargo remained and it was felt that another coaster could be profitably employed.
Arrangements were made for a very valuable piece of deck cargo, an oil refinery cracking tower, bound for Brisbane, to be floated and towed back to Aden for transhipment.

19th April the 45 ton cracking tower was lowered into the water and taken in tow by Poolzee to Aden. Before floatation 107 holes had to be sealed. It floated well with good stability and a draught of about 3.5ft. Whilst in Aden Poolzee would pick up five more 6 inch pumps. Later that day the tug Mississippi arrived with six further pumps of various sizes.


During this time we discharged 1500 bags of Naphthalene (moth balls), 29 tons of bulk Dutrea and 29 tons of Napthenic Acid.

The pending Monsoon was beginning to show signs of arrival, the wind had veered to SW force 3 and the sea had a long low swell. We were now aground on a lee shore.

21st April weather and sea conditions deteriorating. No 4 double bottom and No 4 fresh water tanks had breached. No 4 hold was now considered unpumpable.

Pumping and subsequent refloating was now paramount but paper packing from the cargo was continually blocking the pumps. The divers were sent down around the ship and reported heavy siltation sand near the bow where a sandbank had formed on either side. There was also evidence of significant quantities of sand in the breached holds.

25th April another attempt was made to refloat but all this revealed was that a rock had penetrated the hull under No 4 hold and that that ship was pivoting on it causing further severe damage. That evening a rather despondent crew gathered on the boat deck to hear what the Salvage Master had to say. The next day would have another try at refloating, all the tugs would be utilised and a kedge anchor would be streamed to add a bit more pull.

26th April Mississippi and Oceaan made fast aft. All 34 pumps were started. By 1500 Ayrshire moved, at 1600 she was afloat. The tugs held her in position until Captain Colthoff, for whatever reason, ordered them to stop towing and the vessel was “allowed” to drift ashore on the west side of the bay. The ship’s position was now very grave, she was far more exposed to the sea and her after body was bumping heavily on the coral.

27th April Smits in Rotterdam sent this message to British and Commonwealth in London. “Tugs efforts in last 12 hours unavailing and position utmost seriousness as two knot current pinning ship on reef and vessel bumping and labouring with some evidence of deterioration. No 6 tank now leaking and engine room leakage increased slightly. Understand salvors now considering abandonment and if so crew will be removed.”

28th April we were informed that the game was over and we were abandoning Ayrshire. Very sad but we were going home to very anxious relatives.
The Master was instructed to bring all ship’s document; charts, log book and bridge movement book back to the UK and to deposit Admiralty secret papers with the naval authorities in Aden.
The funnel was blacked out so as not to be a bad advertisement, the salvage pumps were taken back aboard the tugs and the crew distributed amongst the tugs.
The agents in Aden were to book us hotels and an aircraft to repatriate the crew to Bombay and the officers to England.

29th April I and the other cadets arrived in Aden aboard Poolzee and the rest of the crew arrived on Oceaan and Mississippi.

30th April an Argonaut aircraft of Air Links took 51 crew members to Bombay and on May 4th the officers took off from Aden for Gatwick via Cairo and Brindisi.

A sad end to a long hard struggle.

Master P.Macmillan
Chief Officer A.T. Campbell
Second Officer P.Ward
Third Officer D.Sinclair
Cadet C.N.Isaac
Cadet P.Reville
Radio Officer M.Caine
Carpenter C.Tiernan
Second Carpenter J.Kilpatrick
Purser A.E.Moore
Second Purser C.Gatehouse
Chief Engineer F. Briggs
Second Engineer T. Wilson
Jnr 2nd Engineer R.Johnstone
Third Engineer C.Johnson
Fourth Engineer P.Cribb
Fifth Engineer A.McKinnon
Sixth Engineer P.Hopkirk
Engineer Cadet R.Maclean
Ch Fridge Engineer W.Hutchinson
2nd Fridge Eng G.Robinson
3rd Fridge Eng P.Campbell
Chief Electrician J.Goulstone
Second Electrician D.Bowskill
Cadets who joined from Clan Malcolm after the stranding
D.Dearsley, M.Butterfield, D.Drew and J.Wright

Chris Isaac
9th August 2006, 15:42
1 Ayrshire on Trials
2 Aground in Bandar Saleh
3 With Ais Nicholas Alongside

Chris Isaac
9th August 2006, 15:50
1 Discharging Cracking Tower
2 The Final Day - Ayrshire with Funnel Blacked Out

Jeff Egan
9th August 2006, 15:54
An amazing story Chris, thanks for taking the time to relate it.

gdynia
9th August 2006, 16:18
A sad ending for a very fine Lady.Thanks for sharing your story

S Fraser
9th August 2006, 17:33
What an experience, that few of us will have ever encountered in our careers at sea. Thanks for sharing this well documented account with us. Stan

Chris Isaac
9th August 2006, 21:34
An amazing co-incidence happened to me almost exactly a year later in 1966. I had just been appointed Junior Uncertificated 4th Officer on the Capetown Castle (a rank somewhat junior to the ships cat). The Capetown had just been replaced on the mail run by the new Mini Mail Ship Southampton Castle. But as there was still some life in the old girl she was placed on what UC called "The Extra Service". The Capetown Castle could not pick up her skirts and scamper down to Cape Town in 11 and half days which is what the new schedule required. So she was given an easier task that meant we sailed out of Southamton Water and TURNED LEFT.... what ! No UC liner ever turned left there!
First port of call was to be Flushing to pick up German passengers and take them to Walvis Bay. Then on to Capetown and then home again.
It was a lovely May morning in 1966 when the Capetown entered the buoyed channel leading to Flushing. What a lovely sight she was, flags flying, band playing and many Dutch holiday makers on the beach ahead of us.
At the end of the bouyed channel the ship had to turn 90 deg to port to enter harbour. Approaching the turn the pilot ordered full astern on both engines..... nothing happened. Pilot orders double full astern on both engines..... to the engineers undying credit they gave it absolutely full power.... unfortunately the gave it forwards not backwards and 27,000 tons of lavender colour splendour went straight onto the beach.
Head office was called and told of our predicament, they contacted Smits in Rotterdam and about three hours later who should appear on the bridge but Captain Rom Colthoff, the very same Salvage Master that had failed to save the Ayrshire. Much to the amazement of Captain Matthews on the Capetown we greeted each other like long lost brothers but once he found out the reason for such a friendship he was no longer so pleased with the choice of Salvage Master.
The tide went out and for a few hours Capetown Castle sat serenely on the beach with scarcely an inch of water around her.
As the tide rose now fewer than 17 tugs were made fast and nearing high tide she was pulled free. The only damage being a snapped tug hawser wrapped around the port propeller but that was feed by a diver in port.
Some days later when we reached Madeira we received a letter from the Cayzers expressing their disappointment to see UC officers waving at the BBC News camera crew that had circled around in a light aircraft whilst we were aground. Otherwise no harm done !

S Fraser
9th August 2006, 21:58
Chris,
What a set of experiences. You seem to be the common thread in both incidents within B&C. How much longer did your career last with them?
Only joking !!!
Stan

Jim S
9th August 2006, 23:48
Fascinating story, well told - as such seems churlish to comment that AYRSHIRE like her sister ARGYLLSHIRE were single not twin screw turbine steamers - 3 steam turbines geared to a single screw developing 11,550 shp.
Thanks for relating your experiences on her and later on Capetown Castle.

raybnz
10th August 2006, 07:25
I enjoyed both items but wonder what the outcome of a inquiry would have been in both cases.

The noise and feeling that must be generated by a ship when striking something solid at full service speed must be quite nerve wracking to say the least.

Gulpers
10th August 2006, 08:08
Chris,
Thanks very much for sharing your (unfortunate) experiences.
Did you ever complete any voyage without going aground? (Jester)

Ian Harrod
10th August 2006, 08:21
Well told Chris; you are only supposed to have 15 minutes of fame, not 5 weeks!

Junior uncert 4th mate? That sounds slightly lower than the apprentice you were!

aleddy
10th August 2006, 11:22
There has been a lot of good reading on SN and your account of Ayrshire
followed by Capetown Castle mishaps deserves an award, you should have saved both stories for your book and matched CH Lightoller, without the ice.

Chris Isaac
10th August 2006, 11:51
I do have some other stories to relate, one involving a medical emergency at sea on the Capetown Castle and another about a serious incident on the Southampton Castle in East London..... watch this space !

Aristo
10th August 2006, 11:55
Thanks a lot for the fascinating reports Chris, it was great reading them!

Charlie_Wood
10th August 2006, 23:15
Tut Tut Chris, waving to the BBC. That's was the trouble when the Clan men started to infiltrate the mailboats, not really PSM. I worked very hard to persuede Bob Royan on the Hector Heron and Keith Parker, when he did a trip in command on the Ranald that I was PSM and got him to promise me the the 3rd Mates job on the Reina when we got back. The next day we had a cable promoting me to 2nd mate on Argyllshire (my happiest year at sea) whilst my oppo Phil Rentall got the Reina job and hasn't stepped off passanger ships since!!

I frequently wonder why there are still more pics of the Ayrshire on the net than her sister who lasted 10 years longer!!

Chris Isaac
11th August 2006, 18:39
In all my years with B&C I only actually sailed on one Clan Liner and that was the Clan Grant for one trip to India. Almost every other ship I sailed from from Cadet to Senior 2nd Officer was Union Castle, dont ask me why I guess that I was PSM.
Means you didnt see so much of the world but you did meet lots of ladies !
Any ex mailboaters remember the various wenching awards that could be won:
Starting with the easiest:
1. The Ushant award - plenty of time for that !
2. The Needles award - difficult for deck officers as we would all be on duty.
3. The Robben Island award - the supreme wenching award, about 20 minutes from A berth in Duncan dock.

The rule was that the wench in question had to be a new acquaintance!

I barely managed the equator award - I claim no prizes !

R.Philip Griffin
14th August 2006, 14:01
Chris Isaac, This was a truely superb narrative, and at a time when memories would be indelibly inscribed in your mind. I hope you were able to use the experiences when taking your Certificates. Many thanks Chris for sharing with us. Grifmar

andysk
17th August 2006, 11:26
Hi Chris ...

Thanks very much for these postings, I didn't realise my original request would have such ramifications !

"the various wenching awards " - AFAIR there also some for the SA coast interport passages ? Don't think they took too much to achieve though !

Was the R/O Malcolm Caine ? I relieved his brother on the Ranald in M****illes in the mid 70's

Charlie - a couple of familiar names there - I was with Bob Royan on the HH (my second sentence) and Phil Rentall on Elbe Ore - I may have a pics somewhere of snow while at anchor in the ice off Seven Islands in Feb, 75 ?Be interesting to know where they might be now.

I think Cayzer House were a bit worried about the passage up the St Lawrence in winter. I do remember we were weather routed from Rotterdam to the St Lawrence around the north of Scotland to avoid a depression, but as usual the vessel's speed was exagerated somewhat, and we ran right slap into the middle of it !

Cheers

Andy

K urgess
17th August 2006, 12:27
Chris

Amazing! And I thought I'd had some experiences at sea.

Thanks for sharing

(Thumb)

paul0510
21st August 2006, 13:30
...so come on, Chris, did you follow-up her eventual demise? I've google-earthed that coast to death and haven't come up with anything! Guess she must have sunk afterall?

Chris Isaac
21st August 2006, 17:17
I have posted a pic in the Gallery showing the island from Google Earth and indication locations of rock and wreck.
Search on "Ayrshire" in Gallery

andysk
22nd August 2006, 12:58
Hi Chris ...

Thanks for this pic, it certainly helps with the understanding of the events.

Cheers

Andy

Ron Stringer
22nd August 2006, 21:07
Looking at the map in the Gallery and the locations of the rock, so close inshore to the island, then comparing it to the many square miles of Indian Ocean around it, I am left wondering how on earth any liner came to strike that rock. What were they doing so close inshore?

Ron

Chris Isaac
23rd August 2006, 09:37
The ship was a quarter of a mile of off the shore when she struck the rock. Which is a bit close... the captain was showing the passengers.
However the chart clearly showed 60 fthms at that point and the whole nature of the island with its steep cliffs gave no clue to there being any off shore danger.

Charlie_Wood
23rd August 2006, 13:42
[QUOTE=andysk]Hi Chris ...

!

Was the R/O Malcolm Caine ? I relieved his brother on the Ranald in M****illes in the mid 70's

Andy,
Don't know if you have your discharge book handy, I paid off the Ranald in Mar-bottom-seilles on 10th July 75. Was that when you joined? I think probably not as the R/O was Martin Brame(sp?). I have a terrible tale of the night before I need to unburden myself of (*))

andysk
24th August 2006, 11:29
[QUOTE=andysk]Hi Chris ...


Was the R/O Malcolm Caine ? I relieved his brother on the Ranald in M****illes in the mid 70's

Andy,
Don't know if you have your discharge book handy, I paid off the Ranald in Mar-bottom-seilles on 10th July 75. Was that when you joined? I think probably not as the R/O was Martin Brame(sp?). I have a terrible tale of the night before I need to unburden myself of (*))

Hi Charlie ....

I'll take a look later tonight, but I distinctly remember (at least I think I do !) the guy I relieved was R (Roy ?) Caine, & had his wife with him on board, I think they were Plymouth Brethren, and had a harmonium in the cabin, which must have made it a bit of a squeeze !

(What did you get up to the night before, or is that not such a genteel forum as this !!!!)

Cheers

Andy

andysk
4th September 2006, 14:29
and Phil Rentall on Elbe Ore - I may have a pics somewhere of snow while at anchor in the ice off Seven Islands in Feb, 75 ?B



I saw a reference in the either the Sunday Telegraph or Times travel section a couple of weeks ago to "Capt Phil Rentall on the Sagarose" - I presume they are one and the same ?

Andy

Freo
7th September 2006, 05:33
Hi Chris, Thanks for the Ayrshire crew list. Sailed with Francis Briggs (C/E) and John Kilpatrick 2nd Carpenter on the Argyllshire, after the stranding. Have been wracking my brains to remember John's name, as he told me quite a few stories of the incident.

Cheers (Pint)

Tony Breach
8th September 2006, 09:12
On January 21st 1975 the Greek reefer VASSO of Colocotronis ex BRUNSDEICH (2) 1972 built 1965 stranded on the extreme eastern tip of Socotra in 12.34N, 53.31E. The sailors' stories about it indicate that it happened at 0200, the OOW was asleep at the time & she went a long way up a sandy beach at 20 knots. The crew abandoned & apparently left the island somehow, the ship was looted by the locals & was declared a CTL.

Does anyone out there have any more info or even photos of her aground???

andysk
3rd October 2006, 15:56
[QUOTE=andysk]
....

Andy,
Don't know if you have your discharge book handy, I paid off the Ranald in Mar-bottom-seilles on 10th July 75. Was that when you joined? I think probably not as the R/O was Martin Brame(sp?). I have a terrible tale of the night before I need to unburden myself of (*))

Hi Charlie ...

I finally found my old discharge book; I joined the Ranald in Mar****illes on 26 July, and signed off in London on 15 October 1974

I do recall Martin, he was on RDM following me as 4th R/O, then joined IMRC as Sales Manager in the early 1980's, I lost track of him after that !

Cheers

Andy

Charlie_Wood
3rd October 2006, 22:16
That's good Andy, you weren't there to see my embarassment!! One of the worst decisions I made at sea. We must have arrived on a Saturday. We'd had a bar lunch and a few pints and were all out on the quay playing football when these visions of beauty in the skimpiest and most diaphanous of outfits were spotted going up the gangway. Quickly repairing back on board we found they were the local bar girls handing out their cards. After a couple of hours flirting they disappeared back to work. Shortly afterwards a very butch lady along with a couple of guys stuck their heads round the bar door and were invited in for a drink. They turned out to be a promotional film crew working for Outspan (the butch lady being the Outspan rep) and they had come to make arrangements for filming the start of the discharge on Monday. I asked the lady where the "outspan girls" were. They were the bevy of SA beauties who trotted round Europe each summer in their orange bikinis. To my surprise she said they were all back at the villa they had rented up the coast. After she had inadvertantly let it slip that they were having a barbeque on the Sunday evening I managed to pester an invitation out of her, strictly on the basis it would only be 2 of us attending. I picked my chum Martin (Brame) the R/O and spent the whole of the next 24 hours staying close to him to make sure he didn't let the arrangement slip to any of the other chaps.

The next evening we slipped off in a taxi in good time to get to the villa and here's where it all went wrong. Just outside the dock gate we started to pass the bars whose names were so familiar from the cards pinned up in the bar. I persuaded the R/O (the only man I've met with weaker willpower than me) that we had time to stop for a quick one. Bad mistake..at about 0100 they decided we'd better be presented with the bill for all the champagne(Jester) we had been buying the lovely girlies. The mode instantly changed and I was put under house arrest whist Sparky headed back to wake up the skipper, George Thomas ( a lovely bloke but proper old time Captain) and draw a sub "to pay for the 2nd Mates bail as he's been arrested". Back to the ship, tails well and truly between legs.

30 years on and the thought of what we missed still nearly makes me cry:(

Yes, Phil Rentall is with Saga now although it grieves me more that one of their more senior Masters (Alistair McLundie) was my protege cadet in Stirling Shipping. How old can one feel. I think Alistair has seen the light now and is headed for the Forth Pilot Service;)

andysk
14th November 2006, 15:35
Hi Charlie ....

Sorry for the late response, but it certainly sounds like a bit of an, errrm, interesting episode all round !

I coasted with George Thomas once, I think. He was almost paranoid about escape from confined spaces; he'd been torpedoed during WW2, and had a family member killed on board a ship when fire broke out in port, they went upwards to escape via the wheelhouse, and were trapped, 'cos the chartroom door keys were missing. He went up there to check at least three times a day.

I did see that (Capt) Phil Rentall was or has given a talk to one of the western UK branches of the WSS recently.

Cheers

Andy

PollY Anna
1st January 2007, 18:03
Great enjoyed the story only wish I had done the same when I hit a reef, in New Zealand difference was we managed to save the ship, but she was not so badly damaged as the Ayrshire Raybnz in answer to your question from somebody who found a reef (well the Skipper did) it does make your tummy turn over. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

AULD REEKIE
4th September 2009, 03:37
Hi Chris, my name is Morton Grant (new member), I was intrigued to read your account of the stranding of the Ayrshire I knew she had been lost near Socotra however never did hear of the details, some experience !, and very well related. . I joined the ship in April 1957 fitting out at Greenock. I sailed Jnr 2nd Engr on the maiden voyage around S Africa then the 2nd trip to Aussie. I then sailed senr 2nd Engr. on the last trip Capetown/Mauritius/Melbourne/Hobart/UK. Peter MacMillan was the Old Man who used to give the passengers a thrill but everyone else a fit of nerves when how close he would sail to headlands around South Africa and Australia! The Commodore Chief Engr. was Geordie Rains, Wilf Shone was the Chief Freezer and Gavin Strang the Chief Elect. We had an Irish Lady Doctor who I understand married my successor after the Ayrshire's 4th voyage! I have a number of photos of these first three Ayrshire
voyages if you are interested. I came ashore in 1962 joined Monsanto UK then was transferred to Monsanto USA in 1979, I then retired here in Houston Texas in 1998. Best Regards Morty Grant

Chris Isaac
4th September 2009, 09:19
Hi Morty
The name Gavin Strang rings a bell but not the others, apart from the master, eventually he came unstuck with this practice!
As for you pictures then please put them on this site so we can all enjoy them.
Kind regards
Chris

mac210
28th September 2011, 23:34
The Loss of S.S. Ayrshire
By Christopher N Isaac – Senior Cadet


Ayrshire was the flagship of the Clan Line fleet. A vessel of 535ft in length and 69ft beam, her steam turbines coupled to twin screws gave her a service speed of 19 knots.

On March 3rd 1965 Ayrshire left Gladstone Dock Liverpool bound for Brisbane calling at Aden for bunkers and Cochin to change the crew.

It seemed right from the start of the voyage that Ayrshire was not meant to reach Australia. Shortly after rounding Cape St. Vincent the port boiler caught fire. Once the fire had been extinguished she limped into Gibraltar where she stayed for one week whilst no fewer than 1228 tubes were either plugged or removed from the boiler.

After an uneventful voyage from Gibraltar to Aden, apart from the Suez Canal that provides a unique change of smell for a day, we sailed for Cochin in southern India to change crews.
Once clear of Aden we set a course of 102ºT that would take us about a mile south of the island of Abd Al Kuri (about 70m off Cape Guardadfui). Little did we realise what a great part this tiny island was to have in our lives in the five weeks that lay ahead.

Twenty nine hours after leaving Aden the island appeared on the horizon at about 1500 on the 23rd March. At 1610 the western end of this mountainous outpost was abeam to port and the seven passengers started observing and taking photographs. The island is a striking sight with its barren red mountains towering over us. The whole coast line was sheer except for a sandy bay halfway along the southern coast called Bandar Saleh. No-one thought anything was special about this little beach with its brilliant white sand, but very soon this beach would probably save a few lives.

At the eastern end of the bay was a mountain 2038ft in height and less than a mile away. “If the Old Man gets any closer we’ll hit this island!”

Five minutes later at 1710 we did!

I had just taken the hold temperatures and was in the chart room entering them into the log book. Just as I stepped out into the wheelhouse there was a tremendous crunch and the bow reared up and the ship rolled heavily to port. My first instinct was to dive for the wheel as at the time she was on the Arkas auto-pilot. No sooner had the ship bounced off the rocks than two things happened. The Captain bounced onto the bridge and the ship took on a permanent list to port.

The Carpenter was ordered to sound all the tanks, peaks and bilges to ascertain the likely damage. Twenty minutes later “chippy” announced to an interested audience that holds two, three and four each had about 30ft of water in them. By some miracle the rocks had missed the engine room and we still had full power available. The list has now increased to 20º and it was clear that we were sinking.

Now that little bay was remembered and Captain Macmillan ordered the ship about and we headed for the bay, now about 4 miles away. The objective being to run the ship aground to stop her sinking. We had not gone much more than half a mile we it was realised that we were going down a lot faster than we at first thought and the order was given to clear away the lifeboats. Shortly after the order was given to abandon ship and three of the four boats with all available provisions and lowered away with all the passengers and nearly all the ship’s company.

A handful of us were left on board, the Master, Chief Officer, myself, a couple of engineers and the Second Carpenter. Once we were in the bay the carpenter and I were ordered forward to prepare both anchors for letting go prior to beaching. There was always going to be an element of guesswork about when to let them go as we were unsure of both the rate of shelving of the beach and or rapidly increasing draft. The anchors were both let go and as soon as the bow struck the beach full ahead was ordered on both engines and Ayrshire was driven firmly aground.

We were safe! Where were the lifeboats? For it was now dark and they were out of sight. We were to learn later that they, unsure of our fate, were firing distress rockets at the Blue Funnel liner Pyrrhus with any response. We still had the motor lifeboat aboard so that was launched and we set off to locate and tow the other three back to the ship. By 2300 all were back on board and time for a beer!

The next day head office radioed to inform us that Clan Mactaggart was on its way to stand by us and would be followed shortly after by Clan Malcolm to whom we would transfer our passengers and they in turn would transfer four cadets to assist us. They also asked for our assessment of the damage.
After a thorough inspection we found the generators to be fully operational although the starboard diesel tank had been holed 64 tons of diesel remained in the port tank. The rate of ingress of water in holds 2, 3 and 4 was found to be greater than the ship’s pumps could deal with while keeping the engine room dry. The duct keel was full of water and the starboard freshwater tank had been breached.
Left intact was 70 tons of boiler water and 100 tons of domestic water, all on the port side. In addition there was 150 tons of fresh water ballast in reserve in the fore and after peaks.


Later in the day another message arrived informing us that the company had agreed to salvage operations being conducted by Smits of Rotterdam under Lloyds Open Form “No Cure- No Pay”. The tug Oceaan would arrive on Sunday or Monday followed on Tuesday or Wednesday by the tug Poolzee. A coaster, Seiyun, was chartered to come and receive cargo and HMS Anzio would come by the following Friday to render assistance. Two Superintendents; Captain Mitchell – Marine Superintendent and Mr Colson – Engineering Superintendent were flying to Aden the next day in order to assess the damage for themselves. (did they think we were making this up?)

By the 25th we had resigned ourselves to a long stay away from civilisation and time to get to work! The derricks were topped and we started jettisoning 150 tons of bagged salt and No.5 tween deck. This was back breaking work, officers and cadets were not spared stevedoring duties, specially the cadets. It was painful work as salt in large quantities stings.

On the 26th an RAF Shackleton flew low overhead several times taking photographs of the ship and the sea around us. In the afternoon HMS Anzio arrived alongside but she was not able to offer much assistance apart from giving us some fresh water and placing her diving team at our disposal. Two divers went down and located a tear 40ft long and 3ins wide down the starboard side of No2. Another slightly small tear was found in No4. This one was successfully plugged with a cork filled dracone.
In the evening Clan Mactaggart informed us that Clan Malcolm would arrive the next day to embark the seven passengers and six dogs.

27th March, In the morning the transfers to and from Clan Malcolm were effected and in the afternoon Oceaan arrived. The Dutch salvage team under the leadership of the Salvage Master, Captain Rom Colthoff, starting rigging salvage pumps in the three breached holds. An unpleasant task as the rocks had penetrated the double bottoms and the water in the lower holds had a thick layer of fuel oil over it.

A few days later the coaster Seiyun arrived from Aden and we commenced filling her with rolls of lino, ceramic tiles, carpets, machinery and cars. Once she had gone we turned our attentions to discharging No 1 tween decks. From the upper we jettisoned chemicals and from the lower, palettes of fire bricks. At first we were just jettisoning them but soon found that we were grounding ourselves on them so they were loaded onto Poolzee for her to dump at sea.

10th April, Clan Maclean arrived on her way to India and to on board seven of our ratings for repatriation. Clan Maclennan and Clan Menzies called by to offer good wishes and to have a little look!

11th April early evening two helicopters approached from the over the island. To our astonishment one hovered over the poop and an officer was lowered on a wire. He delivered the morning papers and then went. Both had come from HMS Albion. We were told that she was to lend “valuable” assistance. In reality she anchored on the other side of the island, the crew had enjoyed a game of football on the beach, and a party of sailors came and “borrowed” 80 gallons of petrol. She then sailed for the Far East. It is comforting to know that the Royal Navy is always there to lend a hand at time of adversity!

12th April a magnificent piece of oceanic splendour appeared around the headland. The 3,000 ton Panamanian freighter Ais Nicholas, built in 1916. After very little help from a very unco-operative Greek crew we got her alongside and for the next three days filled her with much the same sort of cargo as Seiyun had taken.


17th April an attempt was made to refloat the vessel so that a decision could be made about where she would be taken. Several options were available: Tow to Bombay as this was the nearest drydock large enough. This option had to be taken up very soon as the Monsoon season would start shortly. Secondly to tow her to Durban but the same monsoon argument applied. Third was to tow her to Malta but this meant going through the Suez Canal on a sinking ship, something the Canal Authorities where not overly enthusiastic about. So that left options one and two and time was running out.
The attempt to refloat was unsuccessful and the company was told that unless the salvors provide much greater pumping resources the vessel will become a constructive total loss.

700 tons of accessible cargo remained and it was felt that another coaster could be profitably employed.
Arrangements were made for a very valuable piece of deck cargo, an oil refinery cracking tower, bound for Brisbane, to be floated and towed back to Aden for transhipment.

19th April the 45 ton cracking tower was lowered into the water and taken in tow by Poolzee to Aden. Before floatation 107 holes had to be sealed. It floated well with good stability and a draught of about 3.5ft. Whilst in Aden Poolzee would pick up five more 6 inch pumps. Later that day the tug Mississippi arrived with six further pumps of various sizes.


During this time we discharged 1500 bags of Naphthalene (moth balls), 29 tons of bulk Dutrea and 29 tons of Napthenic Acid.

The pending Monsoon was beginning to show signs of arrival, the wind had veered to SW force 3 and the sea had a long low swell. We were now aground on a lee shore.

21st April weather and sea conditions deteriorating. No 4 double bottom and No 4 fresh water tanks had breached. No 4 hold was now considered unpumpable.

Pumping and subsequent refloating was now paramount but paper packing from the cargo was continually blocking the pumps. The divers were sent down around the ship and reported heavy siltation sand near the bow where a sandbank had formed on either side. There was also evidence of significant quantities of sand in the breached holds.

25th April another attempt was made to refloat but all this revealed was that a rock had penetrated the hull under No 4 hold and that that ship was pivoting on it causing further severe damage. That evening a rather despondent crew gathered on the boat deck to hear what the Salvage Master had to say. The next day would have another try at refloating, all the tugs would be utilised and a kedge anchor would be streamed to add a bit more pull.

26th April Mississippi and Oceaan made fast aft. All 34 pumps were started. By 1500 Ayrshire moved, at 1600 she was afloat. The tugs held her in position until Captain Colthoff, for whatever reason, ordered them to stop towing and the vessel was “allowed” to drift ashore on the west side of the bay. The ship’s position was now very grave, she was far more exposed to the sea and her after body was bumping heavily on the coral.

27th April Smits in Rotterdam sent this message to British and Commonwealth in London. “Tugs efforts in last 12 hours unavailing and position utmost seriousness as two knot current pinning ship on reef and vessel bumping and labouring with some evidence of deterioration. No 6 tank now leaking and engine room leakage increased slightly. Understand salvors now considering abandonment and if so crew will be removed.”

28th April we were informed that the game was over and we were abandoning Ayrshire. Very sad but we were going home to very anxious relatives.
The Master was instructed to bring all ship’s document; charts, log book and bridge movement book back to the UK and to deposit Admiralty secret papers with the naval authorities in Aden.
The funnel was blacked out so as not to be a bad advertisement, the salvage pumps were taken back aboard the tugs and the crew distributed amongst the tugs.
The agents in Aden were to book us hotels and an aircraft to repatriate the crew to Bombay and the officers to England.

29th April I and the other cadets arrived in Aden aboard Poolzee and the rest of the crew arrived on Oceaan and Mississippi.

30th April an Argonaut aircraft of Air Links took 51 crew members to Bombay and on May 4th the officers took off from Aden for Gatwick via Cairo and Brindisi.

A sad end to a long hard struggle.

Master P.Macmillan
Chief Officer A.T. Campbell
Second Officer P.Ward
Third Officer D.Sinclair
Cadet C.N.Isaac
Cadet P.Reville
Radio Officer M.Caine
Carpenter C.Tiernan
Second Carpenter J.Kilpatrick
Purser A.E.Moore
Second Purser C.Gatehouse
Chief Engineer F. Briggs
Second Engineer T. Wilson
Jnr 2nd Engineer R.Johnstone
Third Engineer C.Johnson
Fourth Engineer P.Cribb
Fifth Engineer A.McKinnon
Sixth Engineer P.Hopkirk
Engineer Cadet R.Maclean
Ch Fridge Engineer W.Hutchinson
2nd Fridge Eng G.Robinson
3rd Fridge Eng P.Campbell
Chief Electrician J.Goulstone
Second Electrician D.Bowskill
Cadets who joined from Clan Malcolm after the stranding
D.Dearsley, M.Butterfield, D.Drew and J.Wright

In the above article you state the Ayrshire had twin screws I am trying to clarify this matter as many other sites, Clydesite etc quote her as single screw can you clear this up?

Chris Isaac
29th September 2011, 08:56
In the above article you state the Ayrshire had twin screws I am trying to clarify this matter as many other sites, Clydesite etc quote her as single screw can you clear this up?

It is my mistake, twin turbines but single screw.

robert the bruce
23rd January 2012, 19:30
Thanks a lot Chris for your interesting piece on the both ships. They produced great reading but with a tinge of sadness, patricularly in the case of the Ayrshire. It is horrible to see a ship abandoned, and left to rot.

apollobroom
7th December 2012, 18:40
Flagship of the B&C fleet. I joined her, my first ship, as Navigating Cadet on 23rd April 1963, in Lourenco Marques bound for Australia. I was transferred about a year later and then heard she had run aground. I remember being off Socotra bound for Suez when President Kennedy was assassinated. Being my first ship I felt very proud of being aboard such a beautiful vessel. That first leg to Hobart was unforgettable. I grew up in Southern Rhodesia and that southern ocean with the albatross was a whole new world.

apollobroom
7th December 2012, 19:07
Hi Chris. I believe I met you on another Clan boat, after this incident, and you told me about it and how you had contracted a rather severe acne problem as a result.

Chris Isaac
8th December 2012, 09:25
Hi.
That wasn't me. If memory serves me right it was the other cadet from Ayrshire called Peter Revell. I think he suffered badly from acne after the event.
I only ever sailed on one Clan ship after the incident. I went to Clan Grant for one trip to India. Thereafter I only sailed on UC and a couple of Bowater ships.

apollobroom
8th December 2012, 12:28
Yes, that was him. Thanks for the history. I sailed on UC and a tanker, Hector Hawk, before I sat for my ticket in London. Then I left to join Smith's Coasters in South Africa and trading to Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and Mocambique.

FrankGil
8th December 2012, 13:26
The Loss of S.S. Ayrshire
By Christopher N Isaac – Senior Cadet


Ayrshire was the flagship of the Clan Line fleet. A vessel of 535ft in length and 69ft beam, her steam turbines coupled to twin screws gave her a service speed of 19 knots.

On March 3rd 1965 Ayrshire left Gladstone Dock Liverpool bound for Brisbane calling at Aden for bunkers and Cochin to change the crew.

It seemed right from the start of the voyage that Ayrshire was not meant to reach Australia. Shortly after rounding Cape St. Vincent the port boiler caught fire. Once the fire had been extinguished she limped into Gibraltar where she stayed for one week whilst no fewer than 1228 tubes were either plugged or removed from the boiler.

After an uneventful voyage from Gibraltar to Aden, apart from the Suez Canal that provides a unique change of smell for a day, we sailed for Cochin in southern India to change crews.
Once clear of Aden we set a course of 102ºT that would take us about a mile south of the island of Abd Al Kuri (about 70m off Cape Guardadfui). Little did we realise what a great part this tiny island was to have in our lives in the five weeks that lay ahead.

Twenty nine hours after leaving Aden the island appeared on the horizon at about 1500 on the 23rd March. At 1610 the western end of this mountainous outpost was abeam to port and the seven passengers started observing and taking photographs. The island is a striking sight with its barren red mountains towering over us. The whole coast line was sheer except for a sandy bay halfway along the southern coast called Bandar Saleh. No-one thought anything was special about this little beach with its brilliant white sand, but very soon this beach would probably save a few lives.

At the eastern end of the bay was a mountain 2038ft in height and less than a mile away. “If the Old Man gets any closer we’ll hit this island!”

Five minutes later at 1710 we did!

I had just taken the hold temperatures and was in the chart room entering them into the log book. Just as I stepped out into the wheelhouse there was a tremendous crunch and the bow reared up and the ship rolled heavily to port. My first instinct was to dive for the wheel as at the time she was on the Arkas auto-pilot. No sooner had the ship bounced off the rocks than two things happened. The Captain bounced onto the bridge and the ship took on a permanent list to port.

The Carpenter was ordered to sound all the tanks, peaks and bilges to ascertain the likely damage. Twenty minutes later “chippy” announced to an interested audience that holds two, three and four each had about 30ft of water in them. By some miracle the rocks had missed the engine room and we still had full power available. The list has now increased to 20º and it was clear that we were sinking.

Now that little bay was remembered and Captain Macmillan ordered the ship about and we headed for the bay, now about 4 miles away. The objective being to run the ship aground to stop her sinking. We had not gone much more than half a mile we it was realised that we were going down a lot faster than we at first thought and the order was given to clear away the lifeboats. Shortly after the order was given to abandon ship and three of the four boats with all available provisions and lowered away with all the passengers and nearly all the ship’s company.

A handful of us were left on board, the Master, Chief Officer, myself, a couple of engineers and the Second Carpenter. Once we were in the bay the carpenter and I were ordered forward to prepare both anchors for letting go prior to beaching. There was always going to be an element of guesswork about when to let them go as we were unsure of both the rate of shelving of the beach and or rapidly increasing draft. The anchors were both let go and as soon as the bow struck the beach full ahead was ordered on both engines and Ayrshire was driven firmly aground.

We were safe! Where were the lifeboats? For it was now dark and they were out of sight. We were to learn later that they, unsure of our fate, were firing distress rockets at the Blue Funnel liner Pyrrhus with any response. We still had the motor lifeboat aboard so that was launched and we set off to locate and tow the other three back to the ship. By 2300 all were back on board and time for a beer!

The next day head office radioed to inform us that Clan Mactaggart was on its way to stand by us and would be followed shortly after by Clan Malcolm to whom we would transfer our passengers and they in turn would transfer four cadets to assist us. They also asked for our assessment of the damage.
After a thorough inspection we found the generators to be fully operational although the starboard diesel tank had been holed 64 tons of diesel remained in the port tank. The rate of ingress of water in holds 2, 3 and 4 was found to be greater than the ship’s pumps could deal with while keeping the engine room dry. The duct keel was full of water and the starboard freshwater tank had been breached.
Left intact was 70 tons of boiler water and 100 tons of domestic water, all on the port side. In addition there was 150 tons of fresh water ballast in reserve in the fore and after peaks.


Later in the day another message arrived informing us that the company had agreed to salvage operations being conducted by Smits of Rotterdam under Lloyds Open Form “No Cure- No Pay”. The tug Oceaan would arrive on Sunday or Monday followed on Tuesday or Wednesday by the tug Poolzee. A coaster, Seiyun, was chartered to come and receive cargo and HMS Anzio would come by the following Friday to render assistance. Two Superintendents; Captain Mitchell – Marine Superintendent and Mr Colson – Engineering Superintendent were flying to Aden the next day in order to assess the damage for themselves. (did they think we were making this up?)

By the 25th we had resigned ourselves to a long stay away from civilisation and time to get to work! The derricks were topped and we started jettisoning 150 tons of bagged salt and No.5 tween deck. This was back breaking work, officers and cadets were not spared stevedoring duties, specially the cadets. It was painful work as salt in large quantities stings.

On the 26th an RAF Shackleton flew low overhead several times taking photographs of the ship and the sea around us. In the afternoon HMS Anzio arrived alongside but she was not able to offer much assistance apart from giving us some fresh water and placing her diving team at our disposal. Two divers went down and located a tear 40ft long and 3ins wide down the starboard side of No2. Another slightly small tear was found in No4. This one was successfully plugged with a cork filled dracone.
In the evening Clan Mactaggart informed us that Clan Malcolm would arrive the next day to embark the seven passengers and six dogs.

27th March, In the morning the transfers to and from Clan Malcolm were effected and in the afternoon Oceaan arrived. The Dutch salvage team under the leadership of the Salvage Master, Captain Rom Colthoff, starting rigging salvage pumps in the three breached holds. An unpleasant task as the rocks had penetrated the double bottoms and the water in the lower holds had a thick layer of fuel oil over it.

A few days later the coaster Seiyun arrived from Aden and we commenced filling her with rolls of lino, ceramic tiles, carpets, machinery and cars. Once she had gone we turned our attentions to discharging No 1 tween decks. From the upper we jettisoned chemicals and from the lower, palettes of fire bricks. At first we were just jettisoning them but soon found that we were grounding ourselves on them so they were loaded onto Poolzee for her to dump at sea.

10th April, Clan Maclean arrived on her way to India and to on board seven of our ratings for repatriation. Clan Maclennan and Clan Menzies called by to offer good wishes and to have a little look!

11th April early evening two helicopters approached from the over the island. To our astonishment one hovered over the poop and an officer was lowered on a wire. He delivered the morning papers and then went. Both had come from HMS Albion. We were told that she was to lend “valuable” assistance. In reality she anchored on the other side of the island, the crew had enjoyed a game of football on the beach, and a party of sailors came and “borrowed” 80 gallons of petrol. She then sailed for the Far East. It is comforting to know that the Royal Navy is always there to lend a hand at time of adversity!

12th April a magnificent piece of oceanic splendour appeared around the headland. The 3,000 ton Panamanian freighter Ais Nicholas, built in 1916. After very little help from a very unco-operative Greek crew we got her alongside and for the next three days filled her with much the same sort of cargo as Seiyun had taken.


17th April an attempt was made to refloat the vessel so that a decision could be made about where she would be taken. Several options were available: Tow to Bombay as this was the nearest drydock large enough. This option had to be taken up very soon as the Monsoon season would start shortly. Secondly to tow her to Durban but the same monsoon argument applied. Third was to tow her to Malta but this meant going through the Suez Canal on a sinking ship, something the Canal Authorities where not overly enthusiastic about. So that left options one and two and time was running out.
The attempt to refloat was unsuccessful and the company was told that unless the salvors provide much greater pumping resources the vessel will become a constructive total loss.

700 tons of accessible cargo remained and it was felt that another coaster could be profitably employed.
Arrangements were made for a very valuable piece of deck cargo, an oil refinery cracking tower, bound for Brisbane, to be floated and towed back to Aden for transhipment.

19th April the 45 ton cracking tower was lowered into the water and taken in tow by Poolzee to Aden. Before floatation 107 holes had to be sealed. It floated well with good stability and a draught of about 3.5ft. Whilst in Aden Poolzee would pick up five more 6 inch pumps. Later that day the tug Mississippi arrived with six further pumps of various sizes.


During this time we discharged 1500 bags of Naphthalene (moth balls), 29 tons of bulk Dutrea and 29 tons of Napthenic Acid.

The pending Monsoon was beginning to show signs of arrival, the wind had veered to SW force 3 and the sea had a long low swell. We were now aground on a lee shore.

21st April weather and sea conditions deteriorating. No 4 double bottom and No 4 fresh water tanks had breached. No 4 hold was now considered unpumpable.

Pumping and subsequent refloating was now paramount but paper packing from the cargo was continually blocking the pumps. The divers were sent down around the ship and reported heavy siltation sand near the bow where a sandbank had formed on either side. There was also evidence of significant quantities of sand in the breached holds.

25th April another attempt was made to refloat but all this revealed was that a rock had penetrated the hull under No 4 hold and that that ship was pivoting on it causing further severe damage. That evening a rather despondent crew gathered on the boat deck to hear what the Salvage Master had to say. The next day would have another try at refloating, all the tugs would be utilised and a kedge anchor would be streamed to add a bit more pull.

26th April Mississippi and Oceaan made fast aft. All 34 pumps were started. By 1500 Ayrshire moved, at 1600 she was afloat. The tugs held her in position until Captain Colthoff, for whatever reason, ordered them to stop towing and the vessel was “allowed” to drift ashore on the west side of the bay. The ship’s position was now very grave, she was far more exposed to the sea and her after body was bumping heavily on the coral.

27th April Smits in Rotterdam sent this message to British and Commonwealth in London. “Tugs efforts in last 12 hours unavailing and position utmost seriousness as two knot current pinning ship on reef and vessel bumping and labouring with some evidence of deterioration. No 6 tank now leaking and engine room leakage increased slightly. Understand salvors now considering abandonment and if so crew will be removed.”

28th April we were informed that the game was over and we were abandoning Ayrshire. Very sad but we were going home to very anxious relatives.
The Master was instructed to bring all ship’s document; charts, log book and bridge movement book back to the UK and to deposit Admiralty secret papers with the naval authorities in Aden.
The funnel was blacked out so as not to be a bad advertisement, the salvage pumps were taken back aboard the tugs and the crew distributed amongst the tugs.
The agents in Aden were to book us hotels and an aircraft to repatriate the crew to Bombay and the officers to England.

29th April I and the other cadets arrived in Aden aboard Poolzee and the rest of the crew arrived on Oceaan and Mississippi.

30th April an Argonaut aircraft of Air Links took 51 crew members to Bombay and on May 4th the officers took off from Aden for Gatwick via Cairo and Brindisi.

A sad end to a long hard struggle.

Master P.Macmillan
Chief Officer A.T. Campbell
Second Officer P.Ward
Third Officer D.Sinclair
Cadet C.N.Isaac
Cadet P.Reville
Radio Officer M.Caine
Carpenter C.Tiernan
Second Carpenter J.Kilpatrick
Purser A.E.Moore
Second Purser C.Gatehouse
Chief Engineer F. Briggs
Second Engineer T. Wilson
Jnr 2nd Engineer R.Johnstone
Third Engineer C.Johnson
Fourth Engineer P.Cribb
Fifth Engineer A.McKinnon
Sixth Engineer P.Hopkirk
Engineer Cadet R.Maclean
Ch Fridge Engineer W.Hutchinson
2nd Fridge Eng G.Robinson
3rd Fridge Eng P.Campbell
Chief Electrician J.Goulstone
Second Electrician D.Bowskill
Cadets who joined from Clan Malcolm after the stranding
D.Dearsley, M.Butterfield, D.Drew and J.Wright

Chris
can you remember if the third mate D Sinclair was Derry Sinclair from the Orkneys,I sailed with him when he was training officer on the Clan Menzies I think in1970
Thanks

Chris Isaac
8th December 2012, 13:37
Yes I am fairly sure it was.
This was all some time ago, best part of 50 years!
But the time scale is about right. If he was 3/O in 65 then Cadet Training was something some poor bastards had to do between 2/O and C/O.
You can't teach pork!