Lightening and North Sea - Ships Nostalgia
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Lightening and North Sea

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  #1  
Old 9th August 2013, 19:31
charliepridham charliepridham is offline  
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Lightening and North Sea

Sort of fell into doing this in 1976 almost by accident then spent a good part of my remaining time at sea off and on these ships (I think the extra leave was an attraction!)

I think I sailed on all of them at some point Naticina, Darina, Drupa, Halia, Serenia and Northia.

What strikes me looking back is the huge difference the various regular Captains made to the ships, they all did things different.

Capt Ken Olsen was my first, he had a terrible reputation, fortunately for me I was relieving a very good friend and he gave me some pointers for surviving. First was that if standing by for and aft if he gave an order to slack or ease anything to make sure the rope hit the water with a splash instantly, second was not to smile or laugh when he was having one of his temper tantrums, only a short man and wearing a beret, he would on becoming enraged rip this from his head throw it to the deck and jump on it. Never own up to not understanding a word he said (his geordie accents got stronger the more furious he became) and lastly never beat him at darts (this was easy as I am rubbish!)
Next I had Captain Ron Kerley, probably the best in terms of ship handling but with a fairly sharp temper, fortunately short lived and he had a good sense of humour.
Captain Peter Blackshaw, lovely man, sad to read of his passing
Captain John Price, his method we called the squealing pig approach, he allways came in hard and fast, often causing the other ship to veer off and run for it!
Other names
Brian Pearson, Keith Fenwick, Charlie Close, Di Evans, Dave Spargo another no longer with us, Captain Davidson
Capt Bradley, another with a fearsom reputation, walked on eggshells the whole time I was with him on the Serenia, I later met him ashore on a course at Southampton, I had my wife with me and he was so pleasant and nice my wife wouldn't believe I hadn't made all the stories up!

I think I have remembered most of the captains but if anyone can fill in some blanks that would be good, especially of all the other regulars on these ships, I sailed with some great CPO's and pumpmen but can't now remember any names
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  #2  
Old 13th August 2013, 06:54
KEITH SEVILLE KEITH SEVILLE is offline  
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Hi Charlie.

I read your message re the Lightening Masters.
You mean Captain Bramley. He was the regular Master on the Serenia.
A very dour personality until you got to know him better.
A Geordie through and through came from Ponteland.
Other Masters you have missed out Stan Owston who was normally on
Naticina. Bill Snowden served on Drupa, but was only on lightening ships
for a number of years.
As the shipping agent in Liverpool I used to meet these captains regularly.

Regards
Keith
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  #3  
Old 13th August 2013, 11:35
charliepridham charliepridham is offline  
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I remember you coming and going Keith, but I never sailed as Captain, so likely never crossed your radar. But as mate I relieved the likes of Dave Spargo and Dave Lake and sailed with them and others who later went on to be captains so always felt I got to know people better on these ships.

Thanks for the remind on the names, my memory let me down, I meant Stan Owston not Ken Olsen who is a completely different person from down here and I am not sure why I got them muddled! and Bramley it is, who after sailing with him could believe what a charming and witty man he was ashore.

I was looking for the edit button to correct the post but can't see it? perhaps I am not allowed to edit my posts yet

Odd looking back how many of these captains were Geordies, welsh and or short!
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  #4  
Old 13th August 2013, 20:26
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BlythSpirit BlythSpirit is offline  
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Charlie, very interesting to hear your comments re the Short Geordie meglomaniacs who were the Shell lightering skippers. In my eleven years with Shell, I only ever came across one such engineer, a Scottish personage who had a pathological hatred of apprentices. I often wonder about the absurdity of these guys behaviour - they wouldn't have lasted five minutes in an industrial environment ashore.
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  #5  
Old 14th August 2013, 15:10
chadburn chadburn is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charliepridham View Post
I remember you coming and going Keith, but I never sailed as Captain, so likely never crossed your radar. But as mate I relieved the likes of Dave Spargo and Dave Lake and sailed with them and others who later went on to be captains so always felt I got to know people better on these ships.

Thanks for the remind on the names, my memory let me down, I meant Stan Owston not Ken Olsen who is a completely different person from down here and I am not sure why I got them muddled! and Bramley it is, who after sailing with him could believe what a charming and witty man he was ashore.

I was looking for the edit button to correct the post but can't see it? perhaps I am not allowed to edit my posts yet

Odd looking back how many of these captains were Geordies, welsh and or short!
There's work and there is pleasure, being able to put a gap between the two is important, at sea you have the weight of the Shipping Company bearing down on you. Ashore, the weight of getting the First round in is important.
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  #6  
Old 15th August 2013, 22:56
drewg drewg is offline  
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I'd forgotten most of the names you've mentioned - but jumping up and down on the beret brings that man back.
Also always remember Kerley, or as we called him 'cat killer Kerley'. A steward had a cat onboard when the rabies deal blew up. The offending cat was brought to the bridge, Kerley held it by the scruff - pointed out the IOW and threw it overboard. Brave upsetting the catering staff like that!
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  #7  
Old 17th August 2013, 13:19
charliepridham charliepridham is offline  
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'cat killer Kerley' I had all but forgotten that! as I recall there was more than one cat? and he found them whilst doing his inspections. But I only have second hand stories hilariously told by Mike Goldsmith who could take off Rons accent and mannerisms perfectly.

I was with him when we had a fire setter on board, after the third fire his call to the office was just magic to overhear, the jist being if they didn't get him the police he would turn left at the Thames and they would find us mored off southend pier until it was sorted. So it was that Chalky White and Brian Sewall two of Essexs finest joined us to catch the culprit, only took them 48 hours much to our huge relief. After they had arrested him he was handcuffed to the pilot chair untill we reached port, when it was my watch I wanted to know why, and I have always remembered his answer, " Some people walk into a room and think it would be nice with orange curtains, when I walk in I think it would look better with a fire"
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  #8  
Old 19th August 2013, 22:10
drewg drewg is offline  
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I still wonder at how 'health and safety' would look at lightening operations.

I recall crossing a plank to the 'Batillus' for her first ever lightening. Weather deteriorating of course, we broke off after minutes and I was left on the froggie side. Shell Francaise showed me the other non STUK world. Modern ship, flowing wine with dinner (they immaculate - me in old boiler suit).
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  #9  
Old 19th August 2013, 23:44
charliepridham charliepridham is offline  
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I certainly recall always feeling like I should have put a clean boiler suit on! Those donkey jackets were a bit manky!

I don't recall any actual misshaps to personnell, a few bits of kit got broke! But you are right looking back, the connection team having to control the business end of the hoses in a seaway armed with a padded jacket and a marlin spike always struck me as dodgy
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  #10  
Old 20th August 2013, 00:19
drewg drewg is offline  
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it's funny swinging the lamp - but was always easy talking to you then as it is now.

I did lightering (v lightening) with Mobil in later years and was always blown away by how awful British crew (politically correct term for ''white crew'') were when things were easy. Then how brilliant they were when the chips were down.
We did as i recall, every Brit was called 'white crew' cos colour didn't count at sea.
Times change as do sensitivities, but i still think we had it right.
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  #11  
Old 21st August 2013, 11:48
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Ref. #10.

Then there were the Officers who differed from the white crew. Brilliant when things were easy, awful when the chips were down. ;-)
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  #12  
Old 21st August 2013, 22:23
drewg drewg is offline  
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hilarious, but so true!
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  #13  
Old 29th November 2013, 23:20
ows100 ows100 is offline  
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Gentlemen of an era

I'll open by say than I'm Stan Owston's son, and I nearly had a career at sea but decided against it, perhaps there are hundreds that will be grateful for that decision.

Stan wasn't a man of great humour at work but the lightening ships were busy, and unlike some, he never damaged a ship (other than the Halia in 1968 and it wasn't his fault!)

He did save two ships in his career when engineer's wouldn't go under water in the engine room, served on the north Atlantic convoys, and save 13 men from a sunken ship in a near hurricane in a life boat in 1954 when C/O on the Liparus and was decorated for his efforts.

I'm not sure how many of you made Captain from a deck hand, did all their own studying unpaid. Made Bosun at 21 and finally made it to captain.

Whilst I'm undoubtedly biased (and he wasn't a saint - none of us are) he was quite exceptional in a lot of ways.

I seem to remember there was a second officer called Durrant Eele (or something close) that he would have brought back keel hauling for.

Don't let me disrupt your reminicinces, I'm sure its not malice after all these years

I rememer sailing the Drupa (Darina you all missed) the Naticina (Chatty Natty), and the much loved Halia. I don't believe that he ever sailed on the Northia or the Serenia, which I believe was largely the preserve of Capt Bramley.

How the characters live on.....................

Jerry
(The curse of the radio shack)

Last edited by ows100; 29th November 2013 at 23:24..
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  #14  
Old 2nd December 2013, 23:12
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only name comes to mind from northia is Dave (thora) herd Bosun
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  #15  
Old 29th November 2014, 21:18
ows100 ows100 is offline  
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Amazing how one post can kill a thread!
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  #16  
Old 8th February 2017, 01:13
balmoral queen balmoral queen is offline  
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On Newcombia as apprentice and Ron Kerley was Mate. Early 50's. Worst case of dandruff you've ever seen...... Likeable enough, but not much go in him.
H. Edmunds.
Capts. on Newcombia, R.S. Richards, Tom Bagley, (excellent) Alexander Worsley. On Tomocyclus, Samuel Partridge, Gent, on Velutina, James Rumbelow, good.
Mate on Tomocyclus J.L. Charlton, Newcombia, "Dixie" Dean, Velutina Morrison.
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  #17  
Old 14th April 2017, 21:01
ChasD ChasD is offline
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Lightening

Been doing a bit more browsing around my old photo files, thought these might be of interest to those involved in the lightening trade and perhaps bring back a few memories.
The various techniques for the approach and ‘landing’ were a common source of entertainment, from the neat ‘four-point landing’ to the ‘squealing pig’ technique for which one particular skipper was famed but all had their points ! Doubt the whole concept would be acceptable these days, putting 70kt or more alongside 200-500kt at 4 knots in coastal waters, then transferring the relevant amount of crude would probably have today’s observers in near hysterics! But it was good at the time. The change in relative draught in this incident is of interest.
Regards ... Chas
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Drupa - 2- Final approach.jpg (182.7 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg Drupa - 3- Closing ..jpg (189.4 KB, 44 views)
File Type: jpg Drupa - 4- Connected.jpg (179.2 KB, 40 views)
File Type: jpg Drupa - 5- Transfer Complete.jpg (174.7 KB, 45 views)
File Type: jpg Drupa - 6- Disconnecting.jpg (166.5 KB, 43 views)
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  #18  
Old 14th April 2017, 21:41
ChasD ChasD is offline
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Just had another thought - anyone ever use the ex WW2 Enfield .303 rifles used for line throwing !!? We had a set which were kept available and maintained but rarely used - for obvious reasons - not just the idea of firing off a .303 from the deck of a potentially 'not gas free' D - boat but being on the 'target 'side trying to catch the relevant line. One of those ideas that might have seemed reasonable in the boardroom discussions but a little less realistic in the real world !

Last edited by ChasD; 14th April 2017 at 21:43..
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  #19  
Old 14th April 2017, 23:21
chadburn chadburn is offline  
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Just had another thought - anyone ever use the ex WW2 Enfield .303 rifles used for line throwing !!? We had a set which were kept available and maintained but rarely used - for obvious reasons - not just the idea of firing off a .303 from the deck of a potentially 'not gas free' D - boat but being on the 'target 'side trying to catch the relevant line. One of those ideas that might have seemed reasonable in the boardroom discussions but a little less realistic in the real world !
What year would this be, just wondering in regards to any other type of line firing apparatus being available.
In the distant past I have fired the Lee Enfield .303 many times it is a brilliant Rifle.
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  #20  
Old 15th April 2017, 07:55
ChasD ChasD is offline
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Hi Geordie,
This was around late 60's early 70's, if memory serves (which all too often it doesn't !) they disappeared later on. Normally lived in a rack in the chartroom.
Always seemed a little unfriendly to draw alongside and open fire with these things, not to mention the hazards associated therewith
The normal line throwing technique was the bosun's right arm, which was usually found to be perfectly adequate.
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  #21  
Old 15th April 2017, 11:17
chadburn chadburn is offline  
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Hi Geordie,
This was around late 60's early 70's, if memory serves (which all too often it doesn't !) they disappeared later on. Normally lived in a rack in the chartroom.
Always seemed a little unfriendly to draw alongside and open fire with these things, not to mention the hazards associated therewith
The normal line throwing technique was the bosun's right arm, which was usually found to be perfectly adequate.
The Monkeys fist could be quite dangerous if it hit you in the wrong place
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