Final voyage of "Sirsa"

Paul Braxton
10th May 2012, 07:10
Anyone remember the last trip of the "Sirsa"/GCWM, when she went to scrap in HongKong after a final unloading in Shanghai in '71?

I was R/O on her at the time. Quite a trip. My introduction to the wonders of Indian food. Still can't get enough of it.

The ship was discharging scrap iron in Shanghai for about a month. That was a real eye opener in many ways. You weren't allowed to have your cabin door closed in the daytime, nor ports covered. During the working day you would always have a set of faces staring in at you in amazement. Our outbound captain came down with some horrible skin disease in the Indian Ocean and had to be repatriated at HK before the ship went on to China. Had to do a daily Medico linkup with a doctor at Mauritius as we sailed north across the Indian Ocean, but nothing he could come up with helped. I always thought it was some of psychosomatic thing, coupled with an intense fear of having to go to communist China, where the Old Man and 2/O from another BI ship had been imprisoned for a long old time just prior to our arrival.

When we finished discharging and were ready to go, the authorities came onboard and ordered the hatches sealed, everyone assembled on deck and poison gas pumped down into the holds. They didn't want anybody trying to escape from the 'Great Helmsman's' regime, it seems...

I was unlucky enough to be one of the last remains of the skeleton crew in HK's 'Junk Bay', waiting for repatriation to the UK. There was no hot food or power, if I remember rightly, just sandwiches. I think it was the 3/E who managed to somehow get hold of the ship's wheel, but don't know how he got it home. Someone else had the ship's bell. Wonder if they still have pride of place or whether they ended up in some maritime auction?