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Old 4th March 2009, 20:41
ronmac6 ronmac6 is offline  
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 31

Originally Posted by EMMESSTEE View Post
Do any of you remember an incident in 1971 involving, I think it was, the "Naess Champion" off Albany, Western Australia?

She was a large (for those days, anyway) crude tanker with a midships bridge, I think she was bound from Geelong, Victoria to probably the Gulf but we came across her completely broken down and dead in the water just south of Albany in a typical SW'ly gale just after daylight in the 4-8 watch one morning. I was C/O of the 5976 grt Australian coastal containership "Kooringa" (Melbourne bound for Fremantle) at the time and recall thinking not all looked well with this big tanker, sitting high in the water and obviously drifting. I can remember calling on VHF and getting no response, even using the aldis lamp with no response and it wasn't until our R/O came on watch at 0800 that he got a very weak signal from the tanker requesting assistance.

To cut a long story short, we went back to her and expended eight rockets trying to get a line aboard her (I remember that we got as far as having a polyprop between us at one stage, I don't recall she made any attempt to get a line to us?) but in the end we stood by her until her Master decided he was out of immediate danger. Even if we'd managed to get a line aboard, I doubt we'd have been able to tow her - didn't ever get exact details of what happened to her in the end, but I believe a tug went out from Albany initially and eventually the Fremantle salvage tug took her in tow and she went to Singapore for repairs?

Can anyone confirm?

hi Mike
Bet you never thought you would ever get a reply to your post Nov/05 !
I've just recently signed up to this site so apologies for the 3 year delay.

The weak signal your R/O heard was me on the monkey island using the lifeboat radio. (Our radioroom batteries had long since expired altho I did manage to raise Esperance Radio ESP before they packed in). We were completely blacked out & not for the first time that trip. We were high in the water as we had just discharged our cargo & not yet gas free. So when rocket after rocket fizzed across our deck it was squeaky bum time. There was 1 line secured but snapped shortly after. That was when the old man decided not to continue. We were extremely grateful for the assistance at a very vulnerable & hazardous time for us.

When we dropped the hook & appraised the situation our comms consisted of the lifeboat radio & the cadets transistor radio which he brought to the bridge. The engineers were labouring away trying to get life back into the ship without success. For the next few days Albany radio had us as the headline news until a whale washed up on the beach & stole our glory.
A tug did indeed come out to us from Albany along with a battery powered transceiver supplied by a guy called Harry who was a radio ham and had a TV shop in Albany. So comms between the ship & Glasgow were restored as we would call Harry up & he would phone Denholms and hold the phone to the speaker. Crude but effective.

Albany radio announced on air they would have a request programme for us and asked us to call Harry with a list of names & songs. I remember mine was The Clancy Brothers & Maries wedding. This probably sounds trivial considering the situation but it really lifted everyone's morale. Another bonding exercise was the meals on the bottom plates of the ER when we feasted on coffee & beans heated by Acetylene torches. The Asian crew were catered for, when the tug arrived with cages of live chickens which were swiftly taken away & processed. (we didn't ask how).

After about a week a super from Glasgow arrived on the tug (what a journey he must have had) disappeared down the ER & a few hours later lights flickered on to wild applause (because we all knew what this meant, yes COLD TENNANTS!!!).
We were not towed to Singapore as you (Mike) suggested but managed to limp our way quite slowly under our own steam to a well needed drydock.

We all paid off then but for the life of me I can't remember who else sailed on the ship at this time, O/M JJ Rose? Cat/off Harry Moon? I hope someone somewhere can put me out of my misery.

I often wonder if Denholms ever follow up with their appreciation of people like Mike & Harry who literally came to the rescue. I'm sure they did.

Yet another long winded post but it was hard to know what to leave out.

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