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Denis Booth Line

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Sailed on the Denis as RO and went up the Amazon to Manaus. a very interesting trip. A ship with no radar and all communications had to be done via Portishead radio.
Mel Plaw.
 

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Mel
What year would that have been that you sailed on her? I was just curious that a ship would be sailing without radar as I assumed they'd become pretty standard soon after the war. That would have been very interesting to have sailed up the Amazon.
 

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[COLOR="Navy"]Mel/Wallace.

Talking of Booths and the Amazon, as you were, caused me to wonder whether the name Norman Powell ~ a 'Scouser' ~ means anything to you?

He crossed the bar last September but can still recall his tales. He actually joined Booths by default but that's an entirely different and long story.[/COLOR]
 

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Wallace, Booth Line was part of the Blue Star Line Group and that company had a policy of not fitting radar on its ships until much later than most other companies. The owners felt that radar contributed towards collisions. I am open to correction on this and a BSL expert will need to confirm but I believe one of their ships was involved in what became termed as a 'radar assisted collision' and the management introduced a no radar policy. Again open to confirmation I do not think this applied to the vessels trading to USA West Coast because as you will know better than anyone the pilots would not board a vessel without a working radar. Policy existed until sometime in the 1960s I believe - tbc.
 

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Tony & Graham
I didn't start piloting until 1974 and radar was standard on all the ships I ever boarded at that time. I do recall sailing the Seatrain Georgia as the docking pilot from Oakland in about 1976 without radar. I broke the ship off the dock in dense fog and turned her over to the bar pilot who took her to sea on compass courses and times plus listening to fog signals and echoes from the ships whistle. I was very impressed and yet this was standard practice for many years. I recall another occasion when I was sailing in about 1967 and our single radar was operating poorly and when we sailed from Kobe it was inoperative all the way to Genoa. It was great training for a young mate, but I don't recommend it. By the time I retired from piloting in 2010, all ships had several radars all of which had to be operating perfectly for the ship to move in the bay.
While I studied radar assisted collisions in school, I would think a company policy of not having radar was a poor one. I never sailed with a captain who wouldn't let the mate on watch turn the radar on, but I heard that wasn't uncommon early in my career also. Radar is a great aid to navigation and should be treated as such, an aid.
 

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I sailed on Dryden of Lamport and Holt (also part of Vesty Group) in 1963. We had no radar or gyro. Some years later was on America Star around 1968/69 which had radar due to being on ECNA Run (East Coast North America Australia), the authorities in US/Canada required this. On a trip from Boston to Montreal in blizzard conditions we passed English Star not normally on ECNA run and with no radar. She arrived Montreal a couple of days after us. Believe the Vesty Group did fit radar to all their vessels soon after that.
 

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Tony, taking up your recent comment. I agree with you it is well do***ented that Vestey group ships were 'tardy', for want of a better word, in fitting radar to their ships and that there was an ingrained reason for it.

So as far as I can find out at the moment, I understand that it was the 'Australia Star' that was fitted with a very early radar at the end of the war, then unfortunately soon came into collision with another ship which didn't have radar.

At the subsequent Court of Marine Inquiry, Blue Star thought that they would be exonerated due to having a radar fitted. However to Lord Vestey's surprise, they were found substantially to blame, with an obvious wrong interpretation of the radar picture being to blame i.e. the 'Australia Star' was found to have steered into the other ship by wrong decisions on the bridge.

This led to Blue Star being liable for substantial damages and apparently Lord Vestey vowed that he would not have radar on his ships and demanded that his officers took traditional precautions in navigating in fog etc, rather than relying on the new - fangled electronic equipment.

Don't know whether it is exactly true or not but seems quite rational. Many of us have sailed with Masters who did not trust the radar until well into the late 60's or early 70's

Hope this helps...on this 13 year old posting, good to talk about it again

Regards
 

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