Shell Eastern Fleet

Jon Sparks
13th May 2012, 16:07
In the 1950s and 60s Shell has a number of tankers based Singapore that moved oil around the Far East. Im the late 1950s, these were mainly N class and D class ships. Until 1961 British officers were mainly sent out to do their 12 months by sea, but the clock started ticking when you left the UK.
In early April 1960 I and about 9 others joined P&Os Carthage at Southampton for the trip to Singapore as replacements for officers on several ships.
At Singapore, the Shell official met us to tell us when and where we would join our ships. Some had to wait until they arrived, but I and two others were told that we would be joining the Nayadis immediately, as it was in Singapore. Bad luck, some said, but we then realised that our destination was Keppel Harbour, where Nayadis was in dry dock, so a few more evenings of boozing.
The next few months were spent taking cargoes to Bangkok, New Guinea, the Philippines, Japan and quite a lot of moving oil from Pladju in Sumatra to Pulau Bukom, Singapore. The master was a Captain Wormald.
The end came in November in Balikpapen, Borneo. The ship was light in the water when some of the guys returned from a swim in the local Shell club, and noticed that the propeller partly out of the water had one blade almost completely missing, and another short of its tip.
When this was reported to Shell, we received orders to go to Singapore and prepare the ship for scrapping.
We were then re-allocated as replacements for men whose 12 months were over. In my case, after a two weeks delay, I was flown to Hong Komg to join Gemma which was having an extensive refit after being transferred from the tankers Shell had operatig in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. Gemma was one of about 8 of these tankers, Gena, Gari and Gastrana being the only ones whose names I can remember. I think the second mate was Roy Fowler, and the Master Frank Pretty.
There was several weeks living in a hotel in Hong Kong before the accommodation aboard was, completed, so out of my 12 months almost a quarter of the time was spent in a non working capacity, and I also was out of the UK for a complete tax year, so I got a full refund, although it took almost two years before I got the money out of the Inland Revenue, bless them.
By April 1961, Shell had changed their transport methods, and wanted to fly me home, but fate intervened. A radio officer aboard a Ben Line ship was taken ill, and I was asked to replace him for the voyage home. Served me right for having so moch idleness!

Ron Stringer
13th May 2012, 17:44
Have a friend who was an IMR R/O and was sent out as a passenger on the (B.I.) ship "Mulbera" to Mombasa, where he was to fit a full W/T station to the Shell tanker "Frenulina" - 890 tons gross, 955 tons dwt. He then sailed with her across to Palembang, Sumatra which would be her home base.

For the next couple of years she then carried white oils throughout the Indonesian islands. Her area of operations ranged from the island of Bali in the south, to Bangkok, Thailand, in the north and from the Celebes Islands in the east to the Sunda Strait in the west. They also made one special visit to Phnom Penh in Cambodia via Saigon. In his words, "As the advertisement put it, at 890 tons the "Frenulina" could reach the parts that other ships could not reach." At that time the wars of independence, involving various countries in Indo-China and France, were at their height. After over 20 months on articles, he paid off in Singapore and came back to the UK as a passenger on the liner "Canton".

Such stories seem a far stretch from modern times, with their 3-month trips and repatriation overnight by 747.

Robinj
15th May 2012, 08:18
Have a friend who was an IMR R/O and was sent out as a passenger on the (B.I.) ship "Mulbera" to Mombasa, where he was to fit a full W/T station to the Shell tanker "Frenulina" - 890 tons gross, 955 tons dwt. He then sailed with her across to Palembang, Sumatra which would be her home base.

For the next couple of years she then carried white oils throughout the Indonesian islands. Her area of operations ranged from the island of Bali in the south, to Bangkok, Thailand, in the north and from the Celebes Islands in the east to the Sunda Strait in the west. They also made one special visit to Phnom Penh in Cambodia via Saigon. In his words, "As the advertisement put it, at 890 tons the "Frenulina" could reach the parts that other ships could not reach." At that time the wars of independence, involving various countries in Indo-China and France, were at their height. After over 20 months on articles, he paid off in Singapore and came back to the UK as a passenger on the liner "Canton".

Such stories seem a far stretch from modern times, with their 3-month trips and repatriation overnight by 747.

I was the last R/O on the Frenulina, spent 9 months on her and had a terrific time around all the smaller Indonesian isles until she was laid up in Singapore March 1962.