Ships Cat

frank elliott
5th March 2013, 17:48
Have any of you galley men got a memorable story of a ship's cat
on board that you would have fed and become it's master and friend?
I ask this because I have a wonderful story of a stowaway cat,a truly remarkable cat that came on board at CapeTown,on a T2 tanker while taking on stores etc. It took up residence on the poop deck and roamed around the galley door and crew recreation room area. We had that cat from CapeTown to La Plata to Montevideo to Durban to
Little Aden to Singapore.
Any stories of a cat or any animal or bird on a ship? I can tell anyone the story of this CapeTown cat if they wish to know.
Cheers. Frank.

John Rogers
5th March 2013, 18:42
Lets hear it Frank.

the brit
5th March 2013, 18:44
here, here , lets here it our Frank.

Farmer John
5th March 2013, 23:22
I didn't see this, but there was a young cat on board, would chase and pounce on anything, on the bridge for noon sights, it chased the mirror patterns, then when all the guys raised their sextants and the mirror patterns went over the side... so did the cat.

And, come on Frank.

6th March 2013, 08:27
I don't recall any if you will permanent animals aboard. Sadly though some that crew bought when ashore. Most unfortunately ended up not surviving for a number of reasons though none as sad as post 4.

oldman 80
6th March 2013, 08:38
QUOTE=frank elliott;660437]Have any of you galley men got a memorable story of a ship's cat
on board that you would have fed and become it's master and friend?
I ask this because I have a wonderful story of a stowaway cat,a truly remarkable cat that came on board at CapeTown,on a T2 tanker while taking on stores etc. It took up residence on the poop deck and roamed around the galley door and crew recreation room area. We had that cat from CapeTown to La Plata to Montevideo to Durban to
Little Aden to Singapore.
Any stories of a cat or any animal or bird on a ship? I can tell anyone the story of this CapeTown cat if they wish to know.
Cheers. Frank.[/QUOTE]

************************************************** *********
Well there was the case of Lucky, the round the world pidgeon.
Can't remember the ensact dates though - but it was definately for a single three month period (approx) in the time window between April 1970 and April 1971.
Lucky, a london pidgeon, made it's home on the mv Benarmin of Leith whilst loading in KG V docks London. The ship departed London for Japan, and for voyage route experimental reason we went via Panama Canal to Yokohama and Kobe then continued through Taipei, Khoashiung, Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Swettenham Durban (Bunkers only) and back to London via Cape of Good Hope.
Having apparently enjoyed it's around the world cruise, it then departed and was not seen again.
During the voyage it flew around at will, never venturing from the vessel at sea.
In ports it was not seen at all until the vessels departure when it would re - appear.
It was fed and watered by the galley staff, and never once ventured into the vessels accommodation.
One of the London evening newspapers (I forget which one) carried the story on it's front page, when the vessel arrived back in London.
Headline :- "Lucky" the around the world pidgeon
Captain J.C. Allen was in command at the time. I was 2/0 (not galley) - but reckon you guys won't mind..

alan ward
6th March 2013, 15:33
Ronnie Greenwood on the the Owerri had a siamese cat called Smokie or when he was being affectionate Smokiepoo.This thing lived on board all the time and when h went home on leave it was left in the care of his steward.It used to wander arou nd getting in everyones way and i remember either Keith the purser or Alan the electrician chasing it along the highly polished alleyways knowing it wouldn

Michael Taylor
6th March 2013, 21:47
I wonder if any Ellerman people remember Ming and Susca, the two siamese cats we had onboard the City of Lancaster? Have a photo of them somewhere catching locusts as we sailed South bound in the Red Sea. I believe the Electrician looked after them.

7th March 2013, 07:02
Hi Frank, Google: 'Simon HMS Amethyst' - great story.


7th March 2013, 07:25
I have got a photo of the lampy in his cabin with one of the ship,s cat,s who sailed with us aboard the Eden back in 1963 in fact we had a few that trip amongst many other animals I will dig it out

7th March 2013, 09:10
I don't remember of all the ships I looked after seeing a cat onboard.
Do remember a dog onboard which the Ships Master looked after in his cabin.
Back in the early seventies I would attend onboard the oil tanker Schelpwijk
and because of the strict quarantine laws the dog remained onboard until
it passed away.
The crew would take it for walks around the deck and even the Customs
volunteered to give it some exercise.
The dog was well loved by the crew and eventually was given a burial at
sea with full honours.


7th March 2013, 11:18
We had a black moggie on board Brocklebank's SS Mahseer. I got the fright of my life one night when I went on watch to keep the inter-ship radio sched in the small hours. I didn't bother with the main lighting when the weather was hot and only had a little 15W lamp on to write up the log by. Anyway, I stuck my hand into the slot under the receiver shelf to get the radio log and, unseen by me, the cat was sleeping in there. It wasn't best pleased about getting a dig in the ribs and came out spitting and clawing - not good when you're still half asleep.
Later on it decided that we weren't very good company anyway and decamped to a Japanese fishing boat tied up on the other side of the quay in Colombo.
Happy days,

John Briggs
7th March 2013, 11:38
When I was Master in John Manners, we drydocked in
Surabaya floating dock. I found a miserable little bit of skin &
bone hiding away on the dock and after some coaxing managed to rescue
it - and it was a faithful companion and friend for many voyages as
the ships cat. I used to whistle and it came running like a dog. Followed me everywhere and was a really great little animal.

When I was due to go on leave in Japan and before
departure Surubaya one trip I gave the cat to the agent who lived about 2
hours drive away up in the mountains. The following day just before
sailing this scruffy little thing with raw paws leaped on to the
gangway and, of course, came with us to Japan. Luckily he found a
good home with my wife's sister and lived a long and happy life.

7th March 2013, 12:33
Arriving in NSW to go on the slave trade for a year the OM declared the ship's cat on the manifest. By the time we came off charter I think we were on our third cat as customs would occasionaly ask to see the cat. Bobby our little cabin boy used to be sent ashore with a little bag of mince and a zip bag. The OM had instructed that the cat be kept in the poop magazine locker whilst in port but the cat had many friends. One period when we were catless I suggested to the OM that I flog the log book and state that I had sighted the cat being washed overboard in a force 9, but he didn't agree.
On the Polar Maid when swinging on the hook in the river Blackwater the ship's cat disappeared one stormy night. Unfortunately it had been pals with a monkey on the passage home from S. Georgia and had learned bad climbing habits. It used to run along the top of derricks, try to climb topping lifts, run along the bulwark tops chasing gulls. We thought a sudden gust of wind had taken it over the side.

frank elliott
7th March 2013, 12:36
Tks for all the replies to my 'ShipsCat' thread. Last night had a phone call; from an old college friend,a John Clarke who became a R/O with Union Castle and he told me the story of 'TANTALLON CASTLE' a UC reefer on a voyage Beira-CapeTown-London,1962,with a cargo of fruit and on deck
held in stalls and pens lashed to the holds covers were a consignment of wild animals bound for zoo or zoos.There was elephants,giraffes,zebras,baboons and two leopards cared for by a vet and 2 gamekeepers with all the proper food and bedding stored.Anyway,one day while off the coast of Mauritania and a gamekeeper was cleaning out the pens a leopard broke free and did
a few dashes around the deck and when it couldn't find an escape decided to do a leopard leap over the side and into the ocean.The Bridge and Captain were alerted,by which time many miles distance had been done,the ship was turned around and it's course retracked in the hope of retrieving the precious animal
They lowered the gangway and readied a lifeboat and with some skilful navigation were soon to see the leopard swimming about.They went nearby and lowered the lifeboat with the 2nd O and a few crew members,caught the leopard by the scruff of the neck and hauled it into the lifeboat and sat on it in the bottom of the boat to hold it down,back at the gangway the leopard jumped onto the gangway and dashed like lightening up and back on deck as much as to say
'Promise I won't do that again'! Lucky leopard and they say cats have 9 lives! Lovely story.

King Ratt
7th March 2013, 13:00
We had a ship's moggie aboard RFA Tidereach out in the Far East in 1964. It used to go into competition with our Scots 3rd engineer when he was playing his bagpipes up on the focsle of many an evening.

Sister Eleff
8th March 2013, 12:32
On the good ship New Endeavour we had a ships cat called Sea Boots. On a trip to Newcastle (NSW) the decks were holystoned with caustic. They forgot the effect it would have on poor old Sea Boots and I (as medical officer!) was detailed to take him to the vet for treatment. Fortunately he recovered and enjoyed the sail home.

8th March 2013, 21:10
We had 2 budgies on the Dragoon, I was on there 81/2. They hated each other so had to be put in separate cages. Saturdays when they got cleaned out they used to be let out and they'd kick seven bells out of each other. One died that trip and we had to keep the it in the freezer until we hit port because they were declared on the manifest I believe.

Jim S
8th March 2013, 22:10
Brocklebanks Mathura acquired a cat in Colombo - we believe he joined us from a Dutch ship. He was a lovely black and white cat. His head seemed out of proportion to his body and so he was re-named "Big 'Ead"
He sailed with us to Calcutta and back down the Indian coast.We headed for the the US East coast ports and while crossing the Atlantic he died, It was believed he had sampled some red lead paint.
As cats have to be declared on the crew manifest and the US Immigration Service demanded that all on the manifest have to be accounted for prior to departure Big 'Ead's demise did remove a potential problem should he have jumped ship in the good ole US of A.
At the time I accepted the official verdict of death by red lead poisoning but on reflection was our feline friend a victim of a felony?
If the photo of our cat has been attached you will note that it is out of focus - he was advancing on me and my camera with criminal intent on his mind.

9th March 2013, 12:32
I remember waking up one morning on the "Oreosa" in the early 70s and hearing this meowing and low and behold there was this cute black furry ball in one of my drawers. Evidently I,d found it on the quayside in Newcastle, New Brunswick in Canada the night before. To keep the story short this little cat did at least two crossings to Avonmouth before being given to a lady friend back in Newcastle. Suprising how a little kitten can make the biggest of seaman go all soft-hearted. Just hope this well travelled little cat lived a long and happy life ah......

Fred Field
29th March 2013, 20:19

The Tantallon Castle was not a 'reefer' but 'dry cargo', sister ship of the Tintagel Castle. They had the rather dubious distinction of having black hulls as opposed to the rest of the fleet, the Lavender Hull Mob.

4th May 2013, 20:28
When i was in the port line we sometimes called into the Canaries to bunker on the way to Oz andN/Z.this was in the early 50s.The lads and officers would buy the canaries in little wooden cages ,I was butcher and i looked after the freezers and fridges and they would ask me for bits of greens and fruit.To cut a long story short thy had to be declared on arrival and if they died when on the coast I used to put them in the meat room and had to produce them in nearly every port of call till we sailed for home.Australia was very strict in that respect.After leaving the coast I am glad to say they were buried at sea with due ceremony.

John Gillespie
9th May 2013, 23:23
Ronnie Greenwood on the the Owerri had a siamese cat called Smokie or when he was being affectionate Smokiepoo.This thing lived on board all the time and when h went home on leave it was left in the care of his steward.It used to wander arou nd getting in everyones way and i remember either Keith the purser or Alan the electrician chasing it along the highly polished alleyways knowing it wouldn

When Capt.Greenwood left the "Owerri" he left the cat behind him,probably to mean to put it into quarantine.The cat did another trip to West Africa with Capt.(Mary) Johnstone in command who didnt show much interest in the animal.A few of the officers,especially George the Mate and Al the 2nd Mate, were quite cruel to Smokie who used to hid in my wardrobe for comfort and safety.
However, the cat had a happy ending.When the vessel arrived back in Liverpool,Capt McWinnie the Marine Supt. smuggled it ashore to its new home.

John Briggs
10th May 2013, 03:24
I wouldn't fancy sailing with George or Al.
Anyone who could be cruel to a defenceless animal must be a nasty bastard!

10th May 2013, 04:30
My first story involves a cat that came aboard my first ship in a spanish port. The captain's wife thought it was adorable... Arthur Charles Murray Black, OBE, did not... and I was tasked about three times to take it ashore and come back without it.
On the last occasion in I think Valencia there was a small gas tanker ahead of us, on the poop at wharf level there was a door.... going by the cooking smells emanating from it the companionway led to the galley so I simply lofted it down the stairs.... didn't see it again.

Second story was only a few weeks back and involves a cat that had read somewhere that my wee ship was the best feeder on the Chilean coast. We got on well enough for about 3 days until it chose to cr*p in my laundry basket ... haven't seen it since either......

Maybe recycling past its 'best before' date centolla pate through a cat isn't such a good idea.....

Old Janner
24th May 2013, 08:21
When I was on the British Hazel 1965/66, it was a floating zoo.

Myself had an African Grey from Port Harcourt, young bird and it quickly learned to talk / swear, applied for a Permit to bring it to the UK, which I did after 18 months, Pumpman also had an Afican Grey, which he took home, one of the stewards had a dog from where it came aboard I forget, but it stayed with us for a few months, around the Aussie coast, then LEFO in Abadan he gave it to a greek Tanker. We had two sets of Indian lovebirds picked up in Cochin, I forget who owned them or what happened to them, we had a Chief Cook and a Steward who both bought Cockato's in Sydney, when we got to Darwin they were told that they could not be exported, I am sure we had a cat as well, yes we did as it used to fight with the dog, forget who owned it or how it came onto the ship.
I know the 'Old Man' was a good guy as he had to guarantee a bond for the animals in most countries, quite a headache for him, we were under instructions that if any animal died we had to keep the body for the clearance papers.
One time in Cyprus the customs wanted to see my Parrot as it was on the manifest, chief steward bought them to my room to see, despite my warning not to stick their finngers in the cage one idiot did, and my parrots sunk his beak into his finger.
African greys are good if they know the owner, but don't let a stranger interfere.
I left my parrot with my Mum and Dad when I went back to Sea, later when they got older and moved to a small flat, they gave him to a Local Pub where he was a great attraction and loved the Company.
After a period of seven years I went to visit him, when I spoke to him his head went to one side and he walked down his perch to come close to me, so they have a good memmory as well.

24th May 2013, 10:25
cat-o-nine tails

garden guru
17th October 2013, 20:28
in 1977, when I left school, I went to work on sealink (br) out of Folkestone, I joined as a catering boy, and one of my first jobs was to feed the ships cat ! when joining the ship I had to take a saucer of milk and some cooked bacon rashers down to just outside of the deckhands accomadation ! and before I left the ship I had to take another bowl of milk and some crumbled cake down, and pick up the empty dishes, this went on for quite a few weeks, and I was quite happy to do it !! then one day an old deckhand (who had sailed with my father on a couple of ships) found out who I was and informed me that we were not allowed to have a ships cat. and that the crew had been leading me on! even the captain told me off one day, whilst doing his rounds he had noticed that the saucer for the milk was empty and he told the chief steward that I had to fill it.
corr I was fuming !!!! but I learnt that it was part and parcel of being at sea !
and I eventually got my own back !!! haha

7th May 2014, 22:45
Have any of you galley men got a memorable story of a ship's cat
on board that you would have fed and become it's master and friend?
I ask this because I ha cat was ve a wonderful story of a stowaway cat,a truly remarkable cat that came on board at CapeTown,on a T2 tanker while taking on stores etc. It took up residence on the poop deck and roamed around the galley door and crew recreation room area. We had that cat from CapeTown to La Plata to Montevideo to Durban to
Little Aden to Singapore.
Any stories of a cat or any animal or bird on a ship? I can tell anyone the story of this CapeTown cat if they wish to know.
Cheers. Frank.
we had a cat on a BP Tanker early 70s the cook then acquired a parrot in Lagos well that parrot took the mickey out of that poor cat so much so that one day after leaving Durban cat on mooring bollard on poop deck parrot on railing cat thought right you B------d you can guess the rest somebody did phone the bridge to say cat overboard
only to be told tough ****, cheers richdown

Michael Taylor
8th May 2014, 13:36
We had two Siamese cats onboard the City of Lancaster kept by the Electrician. Their names were Ming and Suska and I believe came from originally India. Anybody remember them?

8th May 2014, 22:04
Fort Camosun - Brocklebank ship - ww2 had 19 cats the chief being Susie a grey tortoishell who ruled the roost. Towrads teatime the cats wouod gather on the hatch next to the galley and Susie would appear and choose one cat to knock seven bells out of ( Pardon grammar). I Calcutta master was gisven a scottie dog to travel home and he kept it in his cabin because of Susie. He walked it round the deck on a lead each day. One day there was some emergency and Capt dashed to the bridge and left his door open. Susie was in like a shot and knocked hell out of the proor thing. I remeber being on watch and looking aft at several kittems playing on an awning when there was a sudden puff of wind and several went over the side.
The ship had rates and 2nd Mate got a rat cage and caught a rat and sprayed chloroform onto its nose which froze and put it under. He dropped it out of the cage onto the hatch wher all the cats wwere gathered. They came and sniffed it and one or two pawed it. Gradually the rat came round and staggered drunkenly off the hatch and disappeared with all the cats just looking on.
Later on tanker FJ WOLFE there was a smashing dog called Susie - her collar had campaingn ribbons fastened to it. She lived with the pumpman. In the Shatt al Arab of Abadan we were being topped up by a feeder tanker which had a dog and susie had it off with it. Result - a puppy. Used to come on the bridge and drag the flags out of the flag locker. Mate used to put a saucer of rum n the deck and after sipping it Susies and pup did somersaults and all sorts.

frank elliott
25th May 2014, 20:05
This part of my voyage on the T2 Fort Frederica when at Mena-al Ahmadi loading for La Plata on 14/8/59 we were on the jetty just in front of the ill fated Torrey Canyon on her maiden voyage and still
showing off the shipyard bunting and glorying in her huge size,she was loaded and readying to sail and we were light and not yet being loaded,yet our funnel just about reached her fo'castle level,little did we know that Torrey Canyon was to cause maritime history some years later.We reached Capetown 31/8/59 to take on stores etc.and
tied up alongside a quay.Then we left on a great southern track to
South America and soon began to experience the huge rollers of sea from the South.One of my jobs was to be the film projectionist and show a film every Wednesday and again on Saturday in the crew messroom aft and on my first showing it was the first time I saw our stowaway cat,a lovely all white female cat being looked after by the
cook.This cat became known as CT(capetown) and she turned out to be truly remarkable,she was deaf or nearly so and purred all the time
while in the presence of anybody.Also obviously shipwise and must have come from some other ship.Then about two days out we were joined by an albatross which took up a position on the port side and about 200 yards aft and with the rollers it was now you see it and now you don't.The Mate told us that the albatross would stay with us all the way and it was on its way home to perhaps the Falklands.So that set the scene and CT became a well liked cat,spending a lot of her time on the poop deck on top a coil of rope looking out at the albatross.Whenever a film was being shown sha would get into the messroom and she would purr loudly and make dives at moving images on the screen sometimes knocking it over to the anger of some of the audience and shouts of 'get that cat out of here' and she would be put out only to sneak back in at the first opportunity of the open door. Our Captain was an Opera fanatic and would play over his loudspeakers placed out on the boat deck midships about half an hour of classic opera on a Friday evening for all to hear,either from an Italian shortwave radio station or fromhis collection of records.On the Friday I was on watch in the radio room when the 3rd.came in to call me to come quick and see out on the portside bridgewing looking down to the boat deck level there was the albatross which had come to see the source of the lovely piece of opera being played.
the bird was enormous must have been about 11 feet wingspan and so close that it would have been possible to jump on it's back.Amazing to see it flying by only making a slight adjustment to a wing tip couple of feathers,then it was beginning to get dark quickly and the albatross wheeled away back to its usual position.A few days later we began to go northwards towards the river Plate and suddenly the albatross was gone,no doubt it was near to home. La Plata and Buenos Aires wonderful places and the night life and tango,then Montevideo for stores and to have the ship fumigated against a plague of cockroaches.Then off back to the Gulf via CapeTown on a northerly route past Tristan de Cunha.Received orders to tell us that we were to proceed to Durban to pick up a consignment of drums of chemicals and stores. The chemicals were for a special tank cleaning process and we were to have a designated number of tanks cleaned to be able to pick up 11,000 tons of partially refined oil for Shell and deliver to Pulau Boukom,Singapore from Little Aden.So at Durbawe went alongside a railway goodsyard and there was the railway wagon with the drums which we loaded on deck.A great time in Durban and another story to be told. Anyway off we went and great news for the crew who were on unlimited overtime with tankcleaning.A couple od days out and very early that morning about 5am there was a great crash and the ship must have jumped a few inches.I was out of bed like a shot thinking of lifeboats and SOS's and out on deck it seemed everybody was up and running ou to the Bridge.I thought we must have hit an island,but the ship was still moving though slowing down.The Mate was able to tell us that we had slammed into 2 whales 'having it away' near to the surface and some of the crew on deck actually saw the evidence of the blood.The ship was stopped and the pumpman asked to trim the ship and get the bow up as much as possible for a lifeboat to be lowered and an inspection of the bow.No harm done and after a great discussion about the merits of a T2 tanker and a test of the turbine and electricmotor we were on our way again.CT was still with us,she had'nt been catapulted overboard.
Then Little Aden with Shell personnel on board overseeing the loading
of the cargo(there is a name for it that I can't remember) then off to Singapore. The ferry from Pulau Boukom Is. across to Singapore,a wonderful city. Then we were on our way with orders to go to Mena al Ahmadi.We left Singapore early in the morning and when I went on watch and turned on the receiver there was Singapore Radio calling GDPJ (Fort Frederica) frantically with news of a message,which turned out to be from the Singapore agents for us to
return to Singapore Roads immediately and await further instructions.The Captain had me send a message to BP in London and within a couple of hours had a reply telling us of the news that Fort Frederica had been sold to Chinese buyers and we were to deliver the ship to Hong Kong.So we returned and dropped anchor off Singapore
and the Chinese came on board and spent some time in the Captains quarters.Instructions were that we would be flown home from HK when a suitable fight home could be arranged for all 43 of us.However,the ship's cat CT must be sent ashore in Singapore and the Bosun was to make up a suitable cat box which he quickly did from an old orange crate.Yes we all watched as the Agent and his aide
went down the gangway to their launch with CT looking quite distressed and one front paw out between the slats.She was a great cat indeed and I for one could only hope that she may soon find another ship and display her charms.
We delivered the ship at HongKong on 2/11/59. and waited for about 6 days enjoying that wonderful place before flying home to London on a BOAC Britannia via Calcutta and Frankfurt.
A wonderful voyage and a great ship.The very last of the BP T2 tankers.
From 8/4/1959 to 2/11/1959

William Clark8
23rd December 2014, 04:36
When I was on the Esso York in 1964 we had a cat called "Tuppence"
a big strong male as you can guess by his name, unfortunately
we had to go in Gibralter for repairs. Sadly "Tuppence" went
ashore and missed the Ship. Hope he found a Girlfriend(==D)

We also had a cat on Esso Winchester in 1967 called "Ruby" he
was found in Aruba by one of the ABs and soon make himself at
home and was liked by all the crew. Trouble arose when we got
to New York because he was not registered as being on board
We might have gotten away with it but Ruby decided to come
into Mess whilst Immigration and Custom,s were there and saw
her, they were not very happy about a pet being on Board and
we were told to make sure she did not leave the vessel, so was
able to keep her (==D)