f c strick

brian lewis
17th October 2005, 22:02
I read a forum that refered to the fc strick Siestan that had a fire and explosion in the gulf approx 1958/9 but I cannot find the artical, anyone help please? worked on (repaired) alot of stricks in 50s had alot of traffic out of Manchester at that time most would have been close to draught limits outward on the Manchester ship canal regds brian lewis

Bruce Carson
17th October 2005, 23:09
The 'Seistan' was a 7,440GT motor vessel built in 1957 by John Readhead & Sons at South Shields for the Strick Line. She loaded cargo at Liverpool and explosives at special buoys in the Thames and on January 27, 1958 set sail for the Persian Gulf. She was manned by British officers and an Indian crew. sixty-eight in all.
About twenty days later smoke was seen coming from the ventilators and steam smothering was kept up for about twenty-four hours.
The ship was by then off Bahrein.
It appeared that the fires had almost been put out: the hatch covers were removed and about half the explosives were loaded on lighters.
The covers were replaced and steam smothering was restarted and continued for over a day.
There was a tremendous explosion, splitting the vessel in two and killing fifty-seven of the officers and crew, including the captain. Four men on a tug laying alongside were also killed.
The fire started in #5 hold, which only had a substance called toe puff as cargo. This is used to make shoe and boot caps and is made of layers of wool or cotton impregnated with cellulose nitrate, solvents and rosin. It was found that it was subject to spontaneous combustion and almost certainly caused the catastrophe.

The above condensed from "Some Disasters & Their Causes" by K. C. Barnaby
Hutchinson of London, 1968

Bruce C.

17th October 2005, 23:19
Ahoy Brian & Bruce,

Here the SEISTAN;

http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/3016/seistan0xc.th.jpg (http://img404.imageshack.us/my.php?image=seistan0xc.jpg)
Built: 1957 by J. Readhead & Sons Ltd, South Shields.
Tonnage: 7, 440g, 4, 334n.
Engine: Single Screw, 4 Cylinder Doxford 2S.C.S.A. by Hawthorn Leslie Ltd, Newcastle.
Launched 15th May 1957, Completed July 1957. Yard No. 592.
When on passage from London to Khorramshahr a fire broke out in number five hold on the 17th of February 1958. Seistan was carrying a general cargo but above the fire was an explosive magazine which contained seismic explosives, fuses and detonators totalling 170 tons. On the 18th she anchored about 2 miles east of the South Sitra Beacon off Bahrein and attempted to discharge the explosives into a barge whilst fighting the fire at the same time. Fate was to deal a cruel blow the following day when having discharged 75 tons the fire spread to the magazine and exploded. The aft part of the vessel and much of the superstructure were destroyed killing 53 members of the crew including the Captain and four men who were aboard a tug laying alongside. The fore part of the ship sank but was later raised and towed by the tug Rode Zee to Catania for breaking

By 1959 Strick Line and Shahristan owned a total of twenty five ships but with increased competition and some outdated vessels the Companies decided to sell for further use or to breakers eleven of its Fleet. It also embarked on a new build program of on average one ship a year so that by 1963 they possessed seventeen relatively modern ships.
Note from Merchantnavyofficers.com

brian lewis
18th October 2005, 19:19
Many thanks to Bruce and ruud for info.I had an interest in that I served my time as electrician at manchester dry docks ship repairing,also at the time tom bell senior was electrical forman and tommy bell junior was also serving his time with me.Tom senior pulled a few strings and got his son as electrician with strick line before he was 21 years old.unlike engineers who could have sea time as part of their apprenticeship electricians had to be twenty one unfortunatly young Tommy was killed on the Seistan the youngest electrician at sea.regds brian lewis

Larry Crowley
15th October 2006, 02:34
I was there a few months later on the Hendonhall, we also went on fire.

At 9.35pm on the evening of February 19th 1958 the 7,440 ton British cargo vessel "Seistan" blew up in a shattering explosion in the Bahrain Explosives anchorage at Sitra. The explosion killed 57 people consisting of ships crew, stevedores and a tug crew alongside.
The vessel had been carrying a mixed cargo which included cases of Toe Puff, a substance described in the "Dangerous Cargoes aboard Ships" listing as; 'Several layers of fabric impregnated with cellulose nitrate solvent, rosin and dye. Liable to spontaneous combustion. To be packed in hermetically sealed tins and packed in wooden cases and to be stowed away from inflammable cargo and not in the same hold as explosives.'
Two cases of this material had been stowed in No. 5 hold which also contained 156 tons of commercial explosive consisting of Geophex and gelatine together with cases of safety fuses and detonators.
On 17th February 1958 as the vessel was entering the Arabian Gulf, via the Mediteranean and Red Sea, smoke was seen issuing from a deck ventilator in the vicinity of No. 5 hold. The hold was immediately filled with steam to smother any flames. The steam smothering continued until 5.30 am on 18th February when the vessel anchored at Sitra where it was decided to discharge the explosives. Some 75 tons were subsequently discharged and steam smothering resumed.
During the day the vessel was moved closer to the port. That evening, February 19th 1958, a glow was observed in the vicinity of No. 5 hold. Minutes later, at 9.35pm, a vast explosion blew the vessel in two - leaving a huge pall of smoke rising into the night sky.
'The shock wave from the explosion was felt in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In Awali, the cinema screen shook like jelly. The ship's stern was completely shattered, the after part of the main deck being wrapped over the superstructure as if it were the top of a sardine can'. [ From 'The Islander' newspaper, published by BAPCO]. What remained of the vessel caught fire and sank by the stern in 40 feet of water leaving the bow and foredeck above the surface.
The explosion killed Captain Chappel, almost the entire Indian crew in the after part of the vessel and five crew members of a tug alongside. There were 18 survivors. [ From articles written by Kevin Patience and published in the Gulf Daily News.]
Three victims of the Seistan disaster remain in the cemetery.

Peter A W Jones
26th October 2006, 22:29
Dear Brian,
I have only just discovered this site and began a new thread yesterday under "F. C. Strick" as I was keen to discover whether there were folk around who remembered the Seistan disaster. I was aboard her when she exploded - my father being the Chief Officer who had taken me and my mother on the maiden voyage. I have plenty of information but also of course a personal recollection of the entire incident. I survived the blast by sheltering under a sturdt chart table in the Chart Room which together with my father and Sparks protecting me with their own bodies left me unscathed . We escaped from the port side light housing at the wing of the bridge before being thrown a pilot ladder from the tug 'Muharraq'. My mother's injuries have not prevented her reaching 79 yrs. Sadly my father Stanley Jones died some 14 years ago.
Do feel free to contact me on Tel 02392 429933 (Portsmouth) if I can be of further help.
Peter Jones

20th November 2006, 11:47
I think I must have been up for Second Mate in Cardiff when the Seistan went up, and we were very shocked to hear of the event. I had served my time in Stricks and spent most of my seafaring career there and we all felt that our family had been damaged. At the time nobody had the slightest idea that toe puff was a hazardous cargo, and it was just loaded into the lower hold, I think, in the usual way.
On my next visit to Bahrain the Seistan was still there and was a sorry sight. The funnel was gone completely, blown over the side, and the after deck was peeled back like a banana, right over the midships accommodation block. Needless to say, she was sunk and was sitting on the bottom.
Later I had a Steward, Thomas, who was the sole survivor of the Asian crew of the Seistan. He was a superb steward, but had some strange behavioural patterns - he would suddenly lose control completely and scream at people in a mixture of languages. I suppose that today the poor man would be considered to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - certainly his mental health had not been improved by the ordeal. We could never find out how he had survived, but I think he had climbed out through a porthole and swum until he was picked up.
Some years later I was at college in Cardiff with Randy Price, who was Third Mate on the Seistan at the time of the disaster. He told us that they had been discharging the explosives into two barges while fighting the fire. I think it must have been after the explosion that the owners of the cargo flew an explosives expert to Bahrain to check the barges. He took one look, waved everybody back behind him, took off his shoes, and toptoed back with his face as white as a sheet. He told them that the barges were to be towed out to sea and sunk before they could blow up and cause another disaster! It was fifty years ago but as I recall the navy actually sank the barges with gunfire - we still had the Armilla patrol in the Gulf in those days. Randy told us that they were walking around the ship fighting the fire and unloading the cargo with stuff sticking to their shoes which turned out to be nitroglycerine, which is what dynamite turns to when it is heated. The mind boggles!

Robert Tusler

john shaw
20th November 2006, 13:52

the post to which you refer-- by Peter (above) --is at:


15th March 2010, 19:37
I'm writing an article on Strick Line losses during WWII. Apparently 20 ships were lost, but I've been able to locate only 10. Anyone know where I can find the complete list.


15th March 2010, 20:04
I have a book the history of Franck C. Strick and his many shipping enterprises written by J.E.Belt and H.S.Appleyard published by the World Ship Society back in 96. which you can borrow if you feel it will be of use, if so contact by P.M.

4th August 2010, 19:49
The thumbnail is of the Lokoja Palm discharging in Bathurst in Jan 1965. The chap at the top of the ladder is the 2nd Mate whose name sadly escapes me, but he told me once that he was a cadet on the Seistan at the time. He too was rescued through the port light housing.

19th August 2010, 23:31
I have a book the history of Franck C. Strick and his many shipping enterprises written by J.E.Belt and H.S.Appleyard published by the World Ship Society back in 96. which you can borrow if you feel it will be of use, if so contact by P.M.

Have just seen your kind offer and would certainly like to borrow the book.


20th August 2010, 07:31
Ian am about to go away for the weekend. If you send me a P.M. early next week we can arrange something to get it to you

29th June 2011, 23:47

Above is an item which is alleged to be the Steering Wheel Pedestal from the MV Seistan. I am very interested to find out if it is such as my father was indeed Chief Officer onboard at the time of the explosion. My one reservation about the authentisity of this item, is why an American built item would find its way onto a British cargo ship, when these parts were made in the UK too.

If anyone has information, I would be more than grateful. Please call my mobile on 07412365034.
Many thanks
Jonathan Jones

David Wilcockson
1st July 2011, 19:15
That steering wheel pedestal looks more like the emergency one carried aft in/on the poop, the one used on the bridge would have been slightly more elaborate. I`ll pass on the American conection as I don`t have an answer.

5th July 2011, 12:42
That steering wheel pedestal looks more like the emergency one carried aft in/on the poop, the one used on the bridge would have been slightly more elaborate. I`ll pass on the American conection as I don`t have an answer.

Thank you for your reply. My brother is sure that its the auxilliary steering wheel from the Monkey Island above the bridge and not from the aft end as it would have been totally crushed by the blast, as was everything else, including 55 crew.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the American connection. I have emailed the US makers but am awaiting reply.

David Wilcockson
5th July 2011, 17:28
I never sailed on a vessel with an auxilliary steering wheel on the monkey island, nor was I aware of this feature, always assumed (which is dangerous!) they were sited down aft. That should bring a reply or two from people who did!

China hand
5th July 2011, 18:17
Mendoza Star, after lengthening, in ballast, view from the bridge was very poor. So, extended shaft and monkey island wheel. All very geary, clutchy, and brass.

Tony Shaw
6th July 2011, 09:52
I remember the 'wheel'on the monkey island being used by Manchester Ship Canal helmsmen on Strick Line vessels as this gave them a better view along this sometimes narrow waterway. On one vessel the wheel was quite stiff and after steering for several hours from Latchford to Eastham the helmsman wasn't feeling too good, and, if my recollections serve me correctly, he had some time off work after the episode and I think the word 'sue' was mentioned.Perhaps someone on SN can relate to this !