Christos Bitas Incident

RonF
18th July 2006, 23:22
I've uploaded some photos and would be grateful to hear any memories of the event.

There are a few photos of various people involved as well, so I hope somebody sees someone they know!

Ron

muldonaich
18th July 2006, 23:29
what was the story behind this kev.

rushie
19th July 2006, 09:33
Superb photos...thanks!

price
19th July 2006, 21:32
In October 1978, while approaching Milford Haven, the Greek tanker 'Christos Bitas' loaded with a cargo of 30,000 tons of Iranian Crude Oil, ran aground on the Hats and Barrels reef. The lightening tanker 'Esso York' was chartered to lighten the stricken vessel, successfully salvaging all but 3000 tons of her cargo. The 'Christos Bitas' was later towed out to sea and sunk. At the time, this incident was the most serious case of oil pollution to hit the coast of Pembrokeshire. Bruce.

rushie
19th July 2006, 21:34
I remember it well...she wasn't exactly sunk....but blown up...poor old girl....

RonF
19th July 2006, 22:03
Here's a link that gives quite a comprehensive and (from what I can remember) accurate account:

http://www.c4tx.org/ctx/job/cdb/precis.cfm?sd=19781012&in=5421948

Ron

jerryseadog
6th October 2006, 16:43
I remember it well too - I was the pilot of a Search and Rescue SeaKing helicopter from the RAF SeaKing Training Unit from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. We flew up to help as the RAF Brawdy rescue flight only had Whirlwind helicopters and were unable to locate and let down to the Christos Bitas in the fog. We flew a large pump from Pembroke Dock on 13th October and some salvage experts. On the 25th October we flew out a BBC crew whilst she was being towed out to be sunk (I still have some photos - where do I upload them to and where do I find Ron's photos?)

RonF
6th October 2006, 21:38
I remember it well too - I was the pilot of a Search and Rescue SeaKing helicopter from the RAF SeaKing Training Unit from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. We flew up to help as the RAF Brawdy rescue flight only had Whirlwind helicopters and were unable to locate and let down to the Christos Bitas in the fog. We flew a large pump from Pembroke Dock on 13th October and some salvage experts. On the 25th October we flew out a BBC crew whilst she was being towed out to be sunk (I still have some photos - where do I upload them to and where do I find Ron's photos?)

Hi Jerry,

Glad to hear from someone else that was involved!

If you click on the 'Gallery' link at the top of the page, then enter 'Bitas' in the search, you should see all the photos I uploaded.

Regards,

Ron

jerryseadog
9th October 2006, 11:44
Thanks, Ron. I will try and get those photos uploaded next week to the same gallery - Jerry

Trevor George
28th March 2007, 18:57
Hi, Ronf
Iwas on the Esso York when the 'Bitas' run aground, we were there before the British Dragoon. We did extract some oil from her, but for what ever reason we departed to allow the Dragoon to go along side. I have some photos, i'll try and get them posted.

RonF
28th March 2007, 21:37
Hi, Ronf
Iwas on the Esso York when the 'Bitas' run aground, we were there before the British Dragoon. We did extract some oil from her, but for what ever reason we departed to allow the Dragoon to go along side. I have some photos, i'll try and get them posted.

Hi Trevor,

Good to hear from you!
As far as I'm aware, the Dragoon was carrying airtight fittings that were installed on the Christos Bitas, allowing the tanks to be filled with air, so I think that's why the Yorkd eparted. But I could be wrong! :)

Incidentally, I stumbled across this post from Paul Hannam, who was apparently a shipmate of yours at the time:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/calendar/?2004/10/12

Regards,

Ron

Trevor George
29th March 2007, 14:05
Hi Ron
When we was along side the 'Bitas', myself and another Mechanic (a geordie lad called Geof) worked with the *Chief Engineer and Second Engine working on the ballast main attaching blank flanges fitted with compressed air fittings.

*(I think their names were Bob Eggleton & Bruce 'Sludge' Gudge)

This would enable the York to pump in compressed air which did intially asssist the RN salvage team to try to save the vessesl.

I remeber our cook, a chap called Barney 'Magoo' who took a large box of sandwhiches & coffee for the salvage squad who were working on board. On his return to the York he came back with a TV!

I can't remember that chap Paul, Do you know what his rank was?

Regards
Trevor

RonF
29th March 2007, 22:05
Sorry Trevor, all I know about him is contained in that link! :)

rodney willett
19th June 2007, 20:59
Hi Trevor

Remember Barny well sailed with him on a couple of trips including the cristos trip. I was AB on her at the time remember that we all thought we would be Megga rich with the salvage money £160 or ther abouts didnt go very far.Regards Rod

Fraserbetts
21st June 2007, 11:02
I've uploaded some photos and would be grateful to hear any memories of the event.

There are a few photos of various people involved as well, so I hope somebody sees someone they know!

Ron

photo 5 = Ralph Maybourn from London office pointing out something Photo 8 = Bill Barker, also from London office who at the time was the senior marine superintendent

RonF
21st June 2007, 21:06
photo 5 = Ralph Maybourn from London office pointing out something Photo 8 = Bill Barker, also from London office who at the time was the senior marine superintendent

Thank you

sam2182sw
22nd June 2007, 12:47
I've uploaded some photos and would be grateful to hear any memories of the event.

There are a few photos of various people involved as well, so I hope somebody sees someone they know!

Ron

hi ron were are your photos i have been looking for them and i cannot find them sam

Gavin Gait
22nd June 2007, 12:57
Sam if you click HERE (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showgallery.php?mcats=&si=bitas&what=allfields&name=&when=0&whenterm=&condition=and) it will bring up all the photo's(Thumb)

HENNEGANOL
22nd June 2007, 13:42
I showed the photos to Jack Thomas who replied

In the photos white boiler suit is Ralph Maybourn [really top man] talking to Robin Stephenson. Other photo Bill Barker leads Robin and in the other hat is Alan Preston.

Gerry.

macjack
22nd June 2007, 16:45
photo 5 = Ralph Maybourn from London office pointing out something Photo 8 = Bill Barker, also from London office who at the time was the senior marine superintendent

My longtime very good friend and ex shipmate (new build "British Industry") of many years ago, Stuart LeFevre, was first aboard "Christos Bitas" by helicopter.See " A Love Of Ships" GAB King.
For those who know Stuart, he is living the good life. In partnership with a couple of others, Just planted 2000 odd vines, Created "WWW" = Wayford Westcountry Wines, what with that Rotary, Bowls,and vast responsibility on HMS President a very busy chappie (at his age should slow down he he) had a couple of days with him at my wifes funeral - one night a bit hectic!!!!
Mac.

RonF
22nd June 2007, 21:06
Davie - thanks for helping Sam out

Sam - I hope you enjoy the photos

Gerry - Please give Jack Thomas my thanks

Everyone - Thank you very much for your contributions. It's really good to put names to faces after all these years.

Ron

trevflstn
22nd June 2007, 22:06
Hi Trevor

Remember Barny well sailed with him on a couple of trips including the cristos trip. I was AB on her at the time remember that we all thought we would be Megga rich with the salvage money 160 or ther abouts didnt go very far.Regards Rod

I was on the Dragoon when the salvage money came through. I seem to remember the mate getting a few hundred pounds and he was not overly impressed to say the least

HENNEGANOL
24th June 2007, 17:53
I was on the Dragoon when the salvage money came through. I seem to remember the mate getting a few hundred pounds and he was not overly impressed to say the least

This is a sentiment, echoed by the Tug Crews in Milford Haven who were involved in the Sea Empress debacle and in a number of salvages since then which were carried out by the Milford Tugs.

Within the context of salvage, sadly the ones who risk their lives, by going out in adverse weather conditions in order to assist vessels in distress, invariably end up being cheated out of their just reward by the "pariahs" sitting in their comfortable offices ashore. Aided in some instances by their colleagues, who having never left the confines of the harbour, swoop like vultures once the casualty is within harbour limits and demand an equal share.

At the same time we must not forget the Lifeboat Crews, who go out in all kinds of weather in order to offer assistance to any vessel in distress and who do not receive any monetary reward!

Gerry.

Frankal
24th June 2007, 20:34
Similarly when Forties Bravo went to assist with the Ekofisk Bravo blowout it was the crew on leave who were put on standby that received double salary whist we who were in peril on the scene (well it sounds good)received nought
frankal

Trevor George
26th June 2007, 13:58
Hi Rodney,
Do you remember the bosun who actually climbed onto one of the lightering fenders whilst it was in the water? the purpose was to attached a shackle to the fender. This enabled a tug ("Lady Theresa" I think) to tow the fender to the starboard side of the York, this enabled us to go alongside the Bitas.

I remember this young AB who was quite tall who I used to go ashore with and get bladdered! especially at the Old Mill near Fawley?

Regards Trevor

Les Grindrod
30th June 2008, 14:14
The Esso York was my first trip with the company, PO Mechanic, so the Bitas incident was a great intro always did wonder about the salvage. Long time ago now
Just found this site, very interesting

Les

TML
19th July 2008, 11:08
In October 1978, while approaching Milford Haven, the Greek tanker 'Christos Bitas' loaded with a cargo of 30,000 tons of Iranian Crude Oil, ran aground on the Hats and Barrels reef. The lightening tanker 'Esso York' was chartered to lighten the stricken vessel, successfully salvaging all but 3000 tons of her cargo. The 'Christos Bitas' was later towed out to sea and sunk. At the time, this incident was the most serious case of oil pollution to hit the coast of Pembrokeshire. Bruce.

As part of the salvage operation I was onboard the CB and can advise that the lightering operation was carried out by the British Dragoon9this was the vessel that was converted BPS's lightering ops). The CB had loaded its cargo at BP Europort Refinery at Jetty 5.