GORDON MASON Chief Eng-United/Smit/Genstar/Union Towing/Seaspan

18th February 2007, 14:27
For anyone who remembers Gordon Mason (Chief Engineer) ex United Towing(Hull), Smit Tak, Union Towing(Vancouver), Genstar(san fransisco), Seaspan etc etc

I am a new member of this forum and looking to hear from anyone who worked with or knew my dad. I am especially looking for photo's from his time at United Towing as he was always full of stories and told them with a sense of pride.

Many thanks
Rob Mason (Thumb)

18th February 2007, 17:55
Greetings Rob to the site, enjoy it and all that goes with it. Bon voyage.

Norman Trewren
18th February 2007, 23:21
Hello Rob

Welcome to SN. I remember your Dad well from UTT days. I'm afraid that my pics taken in those days - apart from the Zeus - are all in transparancies, but I may be able to afford to convert some!


Mate - Seaspan Commodore, Sea Swift , Asst Marine Supt - Union Towing

19th February 2007, 21:04
Thanks Norman,

I can remember when my Dad was with UTT, I must have been around 10 years old and we used to go and collect him from Great Yarmouth when the tugs had docked. In those days it was quite a journey as the only real way to go was through goole, swinefleet, gainsborough to lincoln and then sleaford and the A47. No M62 & no Humber Bridge so it used to take forever.

We usually stayed the night on the tug which was a massive adventure for me, and I remember being there for a weekend when it was my birthday & the cook who was a massive black guy did a huge birthday cake and made a party for me in the galley. Absolutely top blokes. I remember a Portuguese deckie trying to line me up for an arranged marriage with his daughter lol

Once we went into Norwich to have dinner with Paddy Rumsey and his missus & can remember her falling asleep and snoring like mad, all my mam could say was how ignorant the yanks were for doing that, but i'm sure Paddy & his wife were actually Canadian. (Thumb) I've got a photo with my UTT t-shirt on somewhere, will dig it out and post it.

Georgios Kalapothakis
20th July 2008, 15:48
Hai Rob, last month I am trying to find out some information about the former companies my ex-partner Georgios Kalapothakis used to work for when he was living in Greece.
Via search for UTT I found this formum and your message. Today I told Georgios by phone about your message and he confirmed that he has worked together with your father and knew him very well. Georgios was mate/stuurman on the tugboats UTT in the Nortsea. Also worked for URS, Seaspane and Crowley Maritime Seatlle.
He is living again in Greece now together with his wife Ruth. She is from England. In case you are interested in contact I leave his phonenumber.
He has quite some photo's from all the boats but he does not have photographs of your father.
His phone in Greece is
Met vriendelijke groeten, Janneke van Andel-Dordrecht-Nederland

K urgess
20th July 2008, 16:22
Welcome aboard Georgios.
I've edited your post to remove the telephone number and email address as per site policy. The site is veiwable and searchable from the internet so personal numbers and email addresses are open to abuse unless posted in your profile which is viewable by members only.
Please make contact by private message.
Enjoy the voyage.

10th October 2008, 13:54
Hi, robmason,

I can't remember your dad, but I bet my late father would have. He was John Whitson who was port captain for Union Towing in Peterhead in the early seventies.

I remember Paddy Rumsey well, he was indeed Canadian. I took my first trip to sea with Paddy, when I was fourteen years of age in 1974 my father arranged for me to spend a week at sea with Paddy on board the Zeus.

I left Peterhead on board the Guardian, transferred to the Zeus which was towing Mc Dermot's LB 27 if I remember correctly, spent a week there being sea sick everyday before returning to Peterhead on board the Sea Span Commodore.

Still didn't put me off joining the Merchant Navy.

Sorry can't help with any info or photo's about your father.

Best Regards
Conrad Whitson

10th October 2008, 19:59
Greetings Georgios and welcome to SN. Bon voyage.

18th April 2009, 20:05
Hello Rob,
I met your Dad a couple of times in the late 70s in Gt Yarmouth when we worked for Union Towing.
I sailed with your Dad in 92 on the Smit Sumatera. He was chief I was skipper. We Salved the Japanese owned Panama flagged bulker M/V Riau on the Thia/Cambodia border. I have 6 pics of the Sal/Op, your dad was onboard supervising the job,but sadly no pics of him. He was good honest man and great to work with.
B.Rgds Bob Nicholson

peter drake
18th April 2009, 22:38
Hi Rob
I have a book "United Towing 1920 1990" by Alan Ford. Loads of pics and the full history. If you Google it you may still be able to get a copy.
Best of Luck

Georgios Kalapothakis
4th January 2010, 08:37
I hereby have a request for information. As I wil reach the age of 65 this year I am busy applying for a seaman's pension in Greece. My intention is to count together my sailingyears for Greece marine and the 7/10 years in the North Sea Area (URS joint venture UTT/Crowly/Red stock and so on). Although I have all the contracts form URS Belgium in my possession they cannot give me a letter that confirms the period of contracts working for them. I am very interested in the experience of ex-collegaes that applied for a seaman's pensioen and if the years working on the tugboats in the North Sea also counted in the total of workingsyears als a seaman/marine. Thank you all in advance for helpful information.

13th September 2019, 17:32
Hi Rob
I have a book "United Towing 1920 1990" by Alan Ford. Loads of pics and the full history. If you Google it you may still be able to get a copy.
Best of Luck
Hello Peter. Please find attached just a few of my experiences with Humber Tugs Ltd. Regards, Ed. [email protected]

I was a trainee deckhand and joined Humber Tugs in Nov 1977 with Pete Nesvick. In May 1981 I transferred over to the southbank tugs which in the long run was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made!
I don"t know what they"re like today but too many over at Immingham had the attitude that if the company employed you ---- they owned you.
And Roy Sanderson, deck superintendant???, was more than willing to abuse a culture like that and did. Eventually, with a combination of 10th rate management and a spineless workforce, the company was ran into the ground. Sanderson replaced Pete Willingham around 1983. As far as I am aware he had no qualifications to justify a promotion like that and Willingham was a master mariner and a decent bloke.
Sanderson on the other hand was a devious, deep, progress chaser who regarded lying and deceipt as being a legitimate part of management and if that didn"t work veiled threats were his plan b.
But he was not working alone, as I stated above there were no shortage of suckholers and yes men who would cooperate with him.
One such was a tug master, Peter Gel. This invertebrate eventually played a hand in getting me dismissed after I refused to go out to the Rough field, my argument being that it must be sea work, which was "voluntary"
The company came up with the response that it was only sea work if the hirer agreed to a "daily" hire arrangement and this was "hourly"
although they never showed me any evidence and I knew of no one else who had ever seen this.
Almost certainly Sanderson was probably lying about this as was his speciality but proving it was easier to say then do. The ludicrous implication with this argument was any where on the planet was the port of Immingham. In other words there is no such thing as sea work.
I was dismissed on Thursday 14 of March 1985 with no written confirmation of this (they never liked putting anything in writing) then within a few weeks the TGWU branch filed an application with the local industrial tribunal for an unfair dismissal hearing against Humber Tugs.
They enlisted the help of Andrew Marvel Jackson a Hull based solicitor of whom I can find no reference on the internet --its as if the man never existed. From late March out to the following November the company came up with a littany of excuses as to why their witnesses could not attend, Sanderson was on holiday, then a few weeks went by and it was Gels turn to conveniantly be away, next was Jacksons turn not to be there and these delays were always announced after a new appearance date was offered by the courts service.
They were abusing the system but legally. I on the other hand was ready to go within a few weeks.
After they ran out of holidays we got an appearance in late November 85 and about 2 weeks before the union sent me a letter from Jackson offering 500 to drop the case, later increased to 750, which I refused. This was a "without prejudice" letter meaning I could not mention its existence in court. However I could have legally circulated it around the work force ---pity I did not think of this at the time!

Good afternoon Howard, thank you for your time. I am aware of the solicitors and their practice but I can find no mention of Marvel Jackson himself. His legal background, university, nothing.
My representative at tribunal, John Ibbot, told me the company paid him as much as 1000 a day in court over the 2 days which does not surprise me when you consider what was at stake for the company.
Whats that in todays money? --2000/2500 per day!
The afore-mentioned Peter Gel admitted under oath that he was "up in arms" about not getting sea pay for a Rough field voyage that he was sent on only a few weeks after my dismissal because it was outside of the "box" ---the very reason why I lost my job!
But then went on to explain that after an "explanation" from the company "in all fairness it wasn"t sea work".
What Gel really meant was "in all fairness I don"t want to join Grimsbys ever lengthening dole queues" and was clearly scared.
The "explanation" was, in reality, a threat.
Its also worth mentioning that the location was about 30 miles NE of the bull light float so how many miles out to sea did you need to go before you were at sea --- fifty, a hundred, a thousand?
In the agreement between the company and our branch of the TGWU it stated "sea work is voluntary" yet no one apparently knew the specific definition of the term and therefore the declaration was legally worthless.
After the very brief protest from Gel--- Jackson visited the sth bank office and took a statement from him. He signed it and this then equalled an affidavit which could be used against him in court if he decided to stand up to them which, of course, he was never going to.
As I said earlier the absence of a company recognised geographical line at which port work ended and seawork started meant you could be a thousand miles nth of the Orkneys and still be in the port of Immingham therefore you had to go! I said this at the tribunal
Regards, Ed.