BP Tanker Company Marine Engineering Apprentices, 1955 - Ships Nostalgia
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BP Tanker Company Marine Engineering Apprentices, 1955

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  #1  
Old 17th March 2010, 20:19
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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BP Tanker Company Marine Engineering Apprentices, 1955

It is hard to believe but 50 years ago on 18th March 1960 I completed my 4½ year BP Marine Engineering Apprenticeship. I only sailed the one 2 year contract after completion of the apprenticeship.

I had a fabulous time in those 6 1/2 years; I had to spend the first 2 years at Acton Tech in West London studying for an OND in Mechanical/Marine Engineering ( It was for both in those days) with summer 1956 vacation training at Thom Lamont’s pump works in Paisley (a very ancient shop, it merged with another company and still functions) and summer 1957 at South Shields Tech. The latter was unfortunately not too interesting, time being spent entirely in their workshops preparing for their eventual opening of this new (Westoe?)Site. Then BP in its wisdom (?) decided to change the apprenticeship format and send the whole of the 1955 intake to spend their heavy engineering time in BP refineries, mine IOG. I was led to believe this was due to preceding year’s self inflicted inactivity at numerous shipyards around the country. Guys off (moonlighting)painting municipal lampposts etc and not at the shipyard when the training Superintendent visited

All in all it was a splendid apprenticeship (some pieces could be improved); I would do it all over again, no layoffs and redundancies in those early days (David Heaslip was a 1952 Engineering Apprentice!!). I have come across a number of apprentices around that era whose sons followed them into the same profession. The training and attention to detail set me up for the rest of my professional engineering life.

I finally joined my first ship the Empress at IOG 5 Sept 1958 as an E/A and totally revelled in the marine engineering life for the next 3 1/2 years. Engineering Apprentices were suckered by the Navigating Apprentices to run Crew movies aft! During those years crew changes only occurred in UK ports, if the ship did not return to UK you were never relieved, tough luck! At that time there was no flying off (nor helicopter crew changes at Capetown) to “exotic” ports to join a new ship, or leave her. The durations we spent aboard seemed never less than 6 months and up to 14 months (the latter motor ships off West African ports (Hell) or around Australia (great)). I did 2 consecutive trips on the Justice at slow speed 10 knots on one boiler around the Cape to Mina and back plus two side trips to Aden (yikes!). Joined the Sovereign as J/E in March 1960 and finally had two trips Umm Said – Kwinana, well it was better than Mina/Bandar Mashur-Bombay/Aden. Last ship was the then newish Light as 4/E, I hear all the “Ityies” were trouble ships later, she was OK for me.

Life was pretty simple in those days, work/sleep/eat,( thank god no field days!) darts and table tennis, tea and tabnabs, beer and cigarettes then leave, pretty skimpy at 9 1/2 days per month sailed but seemed good at the time. I enjoyed my hours in the engineroom immensely but could not hack the shift system; the 12/4 was more than I could stand. I successfully took a Second’s Steam Ticket and left BP and the sea, returned to mechanical engineering and in 1967 emigrated to Canada to start a new life.

In later life I have often looked back and wondered what would have happened if I had moved on to another quite different shipping company.

I retired early in 1994 and moved to a new location in Eastern Ontario. Kingston had a good marine museum, volunteering there started me thinking about those days back in 1955/62. I had kept all my BP papers from those times and decided to start up a BP website, originally searching for ex BP Engineering Apprentices or Cadets as they were called from 1965 onwards.

My primary concern is still to compile details on all Engineering Apprentices /Cadets from the original 3 person Pilot scheme started in 1951 onwards to 1993+. BP seems to have neglected to retain (or lost) any of this information and possibly privacy concerns would have some effect so I am on my own.

5 years ago I could see no reason not to expand the website to all Departments, from Masters to Galley boys, Chief Engineers to Oilers. I retained the original title of ‘BP Marine Engineering Apprentices’ but it is not just about them.

I have compiled a list of around 2800 Engineering Apprentices/cadets and located about 420 worldwide. Assuming 100 per year intake, there are 5000 around somewhere.

Another list is of all ex BP seagoing personnel, all ranks and ratings, now around 700 persons on 340 different BP tankers. Sometimes I come across the most amazing coincidences, makes the world seem a very small place.

They include; Engineers ( not E/A,E/C’s) -90 ; Navigating Apprentices- 105; Radio Operators -32; Electricians -12; Catering Staff- 14; Deck/Engineroom personnel -30.

I am always looking for names of Engineering apprentices/cadets, the colleges they attended and the ships they sailed on. I collect any old BP papers, Apprentices Newsletters (and supplements with E/A, E/C and Nav /Apprentices names), Dry-dock lists, Fleet News, Ships Movements etc, etc and have been gradually adding them to the website pages. I am not competent in the technical computer data side and depend on family so it is slow going, website updates are not as frequent as I would like.

This is a continually ongoing task and if you think you have any material (papers or names etc) or know anyone who would let me have the originals (or copies) that I could use I would appreciate an email. If you would like information on crews lists I will try to help if I can.

I did not intend to collect ships photos but now have quite an extensive selection including personal ones taken aboard.

Dry-dock crew lists- 1960/65 – 30+ copies
Ships Movements crew lists - 1969/85 -60+ copies, plus some ‘Flag’ copies 2000/8
Original Fleet News -1973/83 – 55+ copies
List of Masters & C/Engineers-1955/84 -7 copies

I have also been researching the British Crown disaster at Umm Said in August 1966 and always interested in new information.


Graham
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  #2  
Old 19th March 2010, 00:06
george jackson george jackson is offline  
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Hello Graham, I was a1954 intake E/A at Gateshead Tech where I got to meet the Duke of Edinburgh when he officially opened the place. Between the 1st and 2nd years there I spent the Summer at J.P. Hall's Pumps in Peterborough. My first ship as an apprentice was the Gratitude which was hard work but as is usual in the circumstances a happy engineering crew. For a change of pace I was posted to the Sailor which made up my mind to be a "steamer". I then spent the last year of my apprenticeship at Smith's Docks, North Shields along with Ken Rutherford from Gateshead and two Londoners, Pete De Lisle and Dave Jennings. As a J/E I stood by the Statesman at Belfast and did a couple of trips on her and was then sent back to Belfast to do the same on her sister ship, the Power. My next was as 4/E on an Eyetie, the Beacon, which I thought was OK especially the engine room layout. Unfortunately she tried to shake her self to bits on my watch in the Red Sea but fortunately we spent a few weeks holiday in Genoa for major repairs! I left BP in 61 and emigrated to Australia in 65 where I have had a successful career in the textile industry. Best wishes, George Jackson
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  #3  
Old 19th March 2010, 20:00
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twogrumpy twogrumpy is offline  
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George,
Beware of using the expressionn "Eyetie" on this site, I had a set too with one of the moderators over it.
I know we in BP used the expression for that class of ship over the years, but I was told that some readers would find it offensive.
He was an ex sparkie, and if I recall not even ex BP so clearly no one of any consequence.

Oh and for my sins I had the Comet, an experience never to be forgotten!!!

Last edited by twogrumpy : 19th March 2010 at 20:48.
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  #4  
Old 19th March 2010, 20:58
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eriskay eriskay is offline   SN Supporter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by george jackson View Post
Hello Graham, I was a1954 intake E/A at Gateshead Tech where I got to meet the Duke of Edinburgh when he officially opened the place. Between the 1st and 2nd years there I spent the Summer at J.P. Hall's Pumps in Peterborough. My first ship as an apprentice was the Gratitude which was hard work but as is usual in the circumstances a happy engineering crew. For a change of pace I was posted to the Sailor which made up my mind to be a "steamer". I then spent the last year of my apprenticeship at Smith's Docks, North Shields along with Ken Rutherford from Gateshead and two Londoners, Pete De Lisle and Dave Jennings. As a J/E I stood by the Statesman at Belfast and did a couple of trips on her and was then sent back to Belfast to do the same on her sister ship, the Power. My next was as 4/E on an Eyetie, the Beacon, which I thought was OK especially the engine room layout. Unfortunately she tried to shake her self to bits on my watch in the Red Sea but fortunately we spent a few weeks holiday in Genoa for major repairs! I left BP in 61 and emigrated to Australia in 65 where I have had a successful career in the textile industry. Best wishes, George Jackson

Did two stints on the 'Power', first trip J/E Oct 1964 - Sept 1965, then later as 4/E Sepr 1966 - Apr 1967.

Recall seeing an old logbook recording the loss overboard of a sailor on, if I recall correctly, her maiden voyage. That would be late 1959 or early 1960, were you on board the 'Power' at that time and do you recall the incident?
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Old 20th March 2010, 01:37
John_F John_F is offline
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Hi George,
I was on the Beacon from her maiden trip in '59 for 8 months. After her first voyage, from Banias to IOG, she blew half her boiler tubes which necessitated a return to her birthplace - Genoa - for several weeks. There were many other problems that had to be fixed as well. I well remember that, in ballast, she had this desire to "shake herself to bits." This must have had a 'knock on' effect in later years when I gather she became an engineer's nightmare. However, I enjoyed my time aboard her & her accommodation was very comfortable & light & airy compared with British built BP tankers of that era which had dark wood bulkheads & were quite gloomy.
Were you aboard in '59 - '60?
Kind regards,
John.
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Old 20th March 2010, 03:27
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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John,
George joined Beacon about 40 days after you left.
Just in case George doesn't see your note!
Graham
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Old 20th March 2010, 05:07
george jackson george jackson is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriskay View Post
Did two stints on the 'Power', first trip J/E Oct 1964 - Sept 1965, then later as 4/E Sepr 1966 - Apr 1967.

Recall seeing an old logbook recording the loss overboard of a sailor on, if I recall correctly, her maiden voyage. That would be late 1959 or early 1960, were you on board the 'Power' at that time and do you recall the incident?
We discharged cargo at Antwerp and the bosun was killed while tank cleaning and we put in to Vigo to put his body ashore and then carried on to the Gulf. George
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Old 20th March 2010, 07:17
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eriskay eriskay is offline   SN Supporter
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Thanks for that, George.
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  #9  
Old 27th May 2010, 16:35
blankpig blankpig is offline  
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Hello Graham,
Please can you advise me how to post a picture on SN?Its a picture of I think the Third Mate,second mate,Chief Stewards wife(chief stewards name was George,a Scotsman) and myself taken midships on the British Seafarer in 1967.It would be nice if anyone recognises them.Many thanks John.
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