Benwyvis Maiden Voyage dec 1966.

ian keyl
12th September 2007, 00:17
I was on the valla and told i was not coming back after my leabe but going to join the wyvis in Glasgow. On the valla you did not get very much leave when the ship turned round on the coast ,so i was not expecting many days before I joined the wyvis.
We joined in Princess Quay Greenock and for the next four days we took on all stores tested what was finished and hoped all the rest would be finished before we got to our first outward bound port of loading Hamburg. On the third night in Greenock we were robbed the shipyard men broke in from behind the fridge space into one of the cargo fridges and stole all our voyage wet bond , this was done from under our noses despite night watchmen and mates and all others going about our work at night. Next day the police were down and the crew were down as suspects . This was 21st Dec 66 and the thought of no booze for xmas in Hamburg and possibly none till Singapore was worse.HM customs were arguing they would not give us another bond in the UK unless the company paid all the duty . Willie Tam sing did the company coughed up and we received another bond . This time all was welded up secure.
The next day we went to test the jumbo with a 90 lift of concrete weights and alas the mast house roof and stiffeners started to crumble ,the leckies were in the switch room under the mast house when the paint flaked off the steel as it crumbled. So the weights could not be lifted out and would have to stay till Hamburg. We had to dunnage them and lash them off for the passage North about to hamburg.

We sailed on the morning of 23 rd dec for Hamburg ,the weather forecast was not too good force 4/5 NW gusting to 6.

Off Cape Wrath we were rolling and pitchting and we had yard plumbers working in the cardeck below the main accomodation deck fixing and compleating pipework some from the heads which had not been completed.As the weather was bad the shoreside men were getting scared so the old man plied them with some of our new booze to give them dutch courage.

At about 1300 hrs after lunch we took a real roll which put the genies out of action which cut the fuel to the main engine, We were two black balls floating 5.5 miles off Cape Wrath. The sump alarms on the genies detected no oil when were rolled so that just shut them down . The next word from the engine room was we do not have enough air to start the main engine and we cannot get the compressors stared at the moment.

We were taking bearings every 1o mins nd we were slowly being pushed towards the cliffs. With MacGregor hatches and no hatch boards there was no rigging a sea anchor ,when i was sent below to see the bosun and chippy the the chinese crew already had thier cases packed and lifebelts on ,the shoreside crew were out of thier minds in the alleyways wonderinf if we wer going to make it.

Eventually the old man send a cable to HQ requesting assistance the nearest tugs were Faslane if i recall and they would need 10 hours in the weather to reach us. Being light ship and rolling like a pig it was going to be very dangerous to launch the lifeboats ,we had not crash tenders in those days The chief by wonders got a genie started and the compressors to give us some air ,he rang the bridge and said he would have a go and there was a debate should they wait and get plenty of air in the tanks . They let fire and no go , we all had every bone in our bodies crossed on the third bang she went and i remember the old man Adam Addison telling the AB on the wheel steer this B****** out into the middle of the Atlantic and you third mate dont change course till I tell you.

When we got going we had set back to just under 1.4 miles off the coast, It was almost like a second Titanic this being our maiden voyage , we got to Hamburg where our agents Menzell and co were all down senior managers and all to greet the ship ,they had feared we were in a lot of trouble en-route.

The maiden voyage and subsequent ones were great she was a happy ship and a fantastic bunch on board ,which all made up for our eventfull start.
Can any one out there remember the Benwyvis call signal was it GSTH ???.
Rgds Ian.

12th September 2007, 01:47
Really interesting story and glad it all worked out. I joined the Ledi at Greenock (my home town) but if my memory is correct we did the usual things and sailed to load on the coast without any incidents.

Ali Bain
12th September 2007, 08:31
Great story Ian, aye life at sea..!!!
Regards-Ali. Bain.