Indian or Chinese Crew

11th May 2010, 03:18
I understand Bank Line had some Chinese Crew ships. Can someone who sailed with both Indian and Chinese Crews tell me of their experiences. Which was best and how was the food on both.

I only sailed with Indian Crew and was quite happy but I love Chinese Food.


Alistair Macnab
11th May 2010, 18:58
I sailed with Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese crews mostly from the Calcutta pool but in two ships ("Ettrickbank" and "Carronbank") from the Hong Kong pool.
The Chinese were a rum lot! Always eager to show their superior understanding of their seamanship skills which were not matched by their actual performance. We didn't have quartermasters (Seacunnies) but the regular seamen took turns on the helm just like a white crew. This could be quite hair-raising especially in close quarters navigation where the understanding of English instructions was excitingly variable at best!
Also, the eternal mah-johng gambling that went on in the messrooms, the eternal clicking of the tiles and the loud Chinese expletives from winners and loosers alike all seemed to be interspersed with one well-known Anglo-Saxon curse word that we all recognised.
Just as with Bengali crews, the Chinese Bosun, like his Serang counterpart, ran his crews with an iron hand.

Comparing Indian with Bangladeshi crews (formerly Pakistani or Muslim crews)
the young smart Bengali Hindus from the Calcutta pool were superior in attitude and what they lacked in experience, they made great efforts to learn. One had the impression that several of the smartest were going to become officers one day. Their mess room entertainment was Caroms.
I have told the story elsewhere how the young Hindus approached the Mate after a particularly dirty job had been completed and requested a case of beer as a reward! A somewhat 'modern' attitude was certainly developing! They even requested a swimming pool session and its interesting to note that the Mates agreed but the Engineers did not unless the pool was emptied out and scrubbed down after a crew session!
Just as well we were all young and could programme ourselves for changes!

12th May 2010, 00:29
Thought that I had sailed with 2 Chines crews ,but can only remember the two years on the Ettrick bank,good crew.The food was much better than on indian crewed ships and every so often the crew would treat the officers to a slap up chines meal.
We had a very good chief steward and he used to take me and the mate out to meals in chinese resturants all over the far east,and once a chinese wedding.
On the isipingo we had 4 chinese fitters and two carpenters and they used to make no end of noise playing majong.Dont forget we had white crews,18 months on the maplebank and i think that we arrived back in the UK with only the bosun,chippy and two of the original crew.


John Dryden
12th May 2010, 00:46
I guess there will be a few Indian and and Bangladeshi ex Bank Line seamen still out there remembering the good old days tramping the world.

13th May 2010, 16:23
I sailed with Chinese crews in Bank Line for two years and generally found them very good, possibly better than Indian crew. The engine room squad were always very willing to get stuck into whatever tasks they were given. Remember having to carry the number one Fireman out of the engine room with heat exhaustion during a main engine break down at sea, but after getting some salt tablets and a jug full of lime juice down him, there was no stopping him getting back down below again.
The stewards were also very good, one particular cabin steward would always ask me when in port, if I was going ashore that evening and if yes, what I would be wearing. When I finished work, the clothes would all be layed out on the bunk and shoes polished ready. They always did an excellent job on your laundry aswell.
I would say the food was also better than the Indian crew, not curry every day and not chinese either. I will never forget Chinese New Years with them, the amount of food and drink that they layed on was quite amazing. As previously quoted, the noise when playing "Mah-johng" was something to behold. They also used to buy small birds, a bit like canarys, when we were on the East African coast. The steering flat was full of these birds in cages, which would all be taken ashore when they payed off in Hong Kong.
One particular steward that looked after my cabin, asked me if I would teach him to speak and read and write English better, which I tried to do, two or three nights a week when we were at sea. He also asked if it would be possible to have a go on the wheel, steering the ship. So with a word in the right ear, he did and infact was quite good. Quite a few years later, we were berthed in Calcutta and this old rust bucket of a ship passed us to berth ahead of us. This figure on the bridge wing was frantically waving and as I was the only person about, realized he was waving to me. When the ship was secure ahead of us, who should appear on the quay, but my Chinese steward, now Third Officer and he invited me onboard for a few beers. I felt quite proud of myself for being able to give him some help up the ladder of his chosen career.
That is my experience of Chinese Crew.