Navigating Cadets in the Engine Room - Ships Nostalgia
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Navigating Cadets in the Engine Room

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  #1  
Old 9th June 2015, 21:04
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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Navigating Cadets in the Engine Room

In a copy of the Cadets’ Newsletter Volume V 1970 #23 which I received a week or so ago,( thanks to Derek Hore 1970 NC) is an short article on the following that certainly got my attention...

“Extract from minutes of General Planning Committee held on board one of the Company’s G.P. manned Ships”

The subject of Navigating Cadets and Engine Room watchkeeping was brought up. During the past week two of the Navigating Cadets have completed two week’s watchkeeping in the Engine room to the satisfaction of all concerned. Both Senior and Junior Engineers commented very favourably upon their interest and conduct during this period, and are unanimously of the opinion that this scheme has proved extremely successful in giving the Navigating Cadets an insight into the intricacies of the vessels machinery. In view of this it is proposed that the other two Navigating Cadets are to have a similar spell in the Engine Room on the same course of instruction when a suitable opportunity is available. End Quote

A few thoughts came to me,

“General Planning Committee’, who are these people, shore based or from that ship? What do they actually do, most of the time?

Wot’s a “GP manned ship’? Would that be a very specific term for bodies who swap functions all the time? (General Purpose?) Is a GP manned ship very different from a manned ship?

Being a dinosaur my mind boggles a wee bit at the thought; this could be a tender subject.

I guess in 1970’s Engineers were issued company boiler suit with BP logos, or was that years later? did NC’s have their own?

No mention in the article of a reciprocal agreement for EC’s (8/4 watch hopefully)

12/4 watch I presume?

Would this have been around the time of UMS or was that much later?

I think Nina Baker mentioned some time in the ER; I would be interested to hear her experiences

I have noticed that in around 1992 there were combined Deck and ER Cadets, still in operation?

Any comments?

Graham
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Old 9th June 2015, 21:12
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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Just a thought, those of us who were Apprentices/Cadets and remember reading the Apprentices/Cadets' newsletter always had a laugh at the characters Joe and Rudolph

Letting those two switch functions would have been a sight to see.

Graham
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Old 9th June 2015, 22:36
Cwatcher Cwatcher is offline  
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As a 1959 Nav. App. & a First Tripper, the only time I got to go down the engine room was on a Saturday morning to change over the Aldis battery for re-charging.This was on the Glory, an almost new steam turbine powered vessel & the engine room seemed an almost sterile environment. No moving machinery to see - the only moving part visible was the prop shaft. It was a similar scenario on my next ship, the brand new Beacon & it wasn't until I joined the Birch in late 1960, a 4 cylinder Doxford powered vessel that had just had its crankshaft replaced, that I saw moving parts & began to appreciate the job that engineers had to do.
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Old 10th June 2015, 01:31
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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Originally Posted by Cwatcher View Post
As a 1959 Nav. App. & a First Tripper, the only time I got to go down the engine room was on a Saturday morning to change over the Aldis battery for re-charging.This was on the Glory, an almost new steam turbine powered vessel & the engine room seemed an almost sterile environment. No moving machinery to see - the only moving part visible was the prop shaft. It was a similar scenario on my next ship, the brand new Beacon & it wasn't until I joined the Birch in late 1960, a 4 cylinder Doxford powered vessel that had just had its crankshaft replaced, that I saw moving parts & began to appreciate the job that engineers had to do.
J,

My first ship as EA in 1958 was the Empress, built 1947 4-cylinder Doxford. A fabulous experience, all those 4 thingies jumping up and down with hydraulic /cooling hoses waving in the breeze. Cooling water and lube oil pumps driven directly off the main engine, the noises and smells just wonderful.....no earmuffs!

Then in port; Everybody turn too guys, Turning gear in, open up the Crankcase and start changing hoses with water and oil cascading all over you, boiler suits saturated, covered head to toe in an oily slush. Dhobing was hell.

I guess the modern term would be "Team Building", 'they' (who never actually had to do it) always came up with a phrase like that for something you (not they) are not exactly going to like!

But looking back 57 years ,I wouldn't have missed it for a minute!

Now that would have been a sight to have females NC/EC's accompanying you. Share the load, get the experience and all that.

I regained my sanity and sailed turbines from then on, trouble was the ports were crappy, not the work!

Graham

What happens now in UMS enginerooms upon entering port, shore staff do the maintenance?
H&S would have gone nuts in those days.
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  #5  
Old 10th June 2015, 11:11
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I spent 4 weeks of my Deck Cadet's time on the Br Admiral (1972/73) doing engine room watch keeping with the 3rd Engineer!

I loved it, as before joining BP as a Deck Cadet, after leaving school I obtained my OND in engineering at the South Devon Technical College!! A change of career then.

Did numerous assorted work in the ER as supervised by the 3rd, but taking the end-of-watch log was always the best job as it meant a cold Tenents would be waiting at the top of the lift in the ER changing room.

We used to do a mean jacket potato on the steams pipes as well!!!
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Old 10th June 2015, 11:19
frangio frangio is offline  
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All the Navigation Cadets on my first ship, Strathconon, had spells in the Engine Room. We also did spells with the RO and the Electrician.

We were also not allowed to instruct a crewman on anything we hadn't done ourselves. So the first few weeks were spent cleaning out bilges, painting decks, etc.

All things I believe could help in many jobs on shore. At the very least it might take away the idea that many have that their job is the only dificult one and that everyone else's is easier!
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Old 10th June 2015, 13:13
Scelerat Scelerat is offline  
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I hated doing ER time. I could do the stuff required, and it certainly wasn't difficult, but I found it desperately dull.
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Old 10th June 2015, 15:34
Gordon L Smeaton Gordon L Smeaton is offline  
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Graham
To answer few oy your points raised in your opening theme.
a) General Planning Committee. This was held once a week usually a Saturday, those attending were Master(chairman) C/Off C/Eng 2/Eng 2/Off (safety) Cat/Off Bosun and the R/O (secretary) the idea being that all departments would outline the work scope for the following week, avoiding conflicts etc, the minutes were then sent to the office, and posted on the various noticeboards, again sounds good in theory but was generally accepted as a good excuse to have a couple of beers at the Masters (Head Office) expense.
b) GP manned ship. This stood for general purpose crew, that is no dedicated deck or E/R crews. This came about due in part to UMS and E/R automation the need for boilermen etc no longer required, idea being that the crew would/could work anywhere on the vessel, generally one or two crew were assigned to E/R the remainder on deck, all crew assisted in mooring ops, storing etc tank cleaning etc etc.
C) cadets either E/R deck or later Radio they all took turns to do time with the other departments to give an insight into how the other departments operated, was also part of the cadet training scheme, section had to be completed before they finished respective cadetships.
d) dual cadets, this was tried and was popular in the 90's and early 2000's basically on completing of cadetship the cadet would be qualified as OOW deck and eng if my memory is correct I think further down the line they had to specialise one way or the other but could be wrong on that point.
e) Female C/Eng I belive Claudine Sharp rose to the top in BP, quite a few sailing as 2/E these days

Regards
Gordon
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Old 10th June 2015, 16:46
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And so we got the saying, "Go GP with BP", well that was the clean version anyway.
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Old 11th June 2015, 09:14
Tony Maskell Tony Maskell is offline  
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I had the first Indian GP crew way back in 1968 on the British Engineer, we had Whessoe gauges retro fitted in Amsterdam while in drydock, then went to to the Gulf where we changed crews off Dubai. The incoming crew was the GP crew, 36 hours later we were at Kharg Island and started to load. The seccunies were still only used on quartermaster duties, and on that ship we had two Serangs, one engine and one deck. The problem was and it was a big problem too none of them could read the Arabic numbers (i.e. 1, 2, 3' 4, etc) on the Whessoe gauges, six hour watches were suspended for the 2/O and 3/O and the R/O was roped into read the Whessoe gauges, since we were loading into 3 tanks across and three tanks down as well, at the same time. Arriving at port only the catering staff were excused turning to for tying up or letting go. Having got over that problem, the next loading was at Mina al Ahmadi. The theory was to have a meeting with the Master, C/O, C/E and 2/E once a week when the various tasks were to be allotted, if the weather allowed then more GP sailors were allocated to deck work, in bad weather more allocated to the engine room.
How they went after all this time I have no idea.
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Old 13th June 2015, 00:11
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As has been mentioned, it was a requirement of the MNTB cadet training scheme that deck cadets had to do at least 2 weeks in the engineroom. My Cadet record book is now at the National Maritime Museum so I cannot look up to see if it specified what that to be done in that two weeks.

I did my engineroom time when I was on the Osprey, during Phase 2 sea time. I loved it, I had always got on well with the engineers on all the ships I was on - I never knew any ship where there was actual "oil~water" discord. I dont remember a lot about my time below except that the 2/E told me to trace various piping systems and do a diagram of each. I can remember having to write up a simple description of what each principal piece of machinery did (separators and so on). I suppose this approximates to the requirement for new deck cadets to make a plan of all decks' emergency firefightig equipment and the tanks and valve systems on deck. I do remember getting pretty comprehensively filthy - always something I was good at - I used to get through more than the 2 boilies issued to deck officers each year.

The engineering cadets had to do similar. I think they had to do their Steering Ticket (10+ on the wheel) and other bridge stuff.

Nina
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Old 13th June 2015, 15:59
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I never experienced this with cadets on any ship I sailed in, but it sounds like a very good idea to me. I recall (limited recall nowadays!) that when 3/e on a tanker in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the second mate and I asked if we could switch for a night 12/4 watch. The Old man and the Chief agreed, probably assuming that, being miles from anywhere we couldn't do much harm.

I was stuck in a dark bridge with only an AB for company, and it was the longest four hours of my life. I did the proper seaman officer thing and I kept a good lookout with binoculars that I couldn't focus on anything useful, but I kept seeing land masses on the horizon when they didn't seem to show up on the radar that I couldn't interpret anyway. "Is that a bloody island ahead?" I asked the AB. "Dunno boss. Can't see anything." He replied, probably gloating the bastard!

I checked the charts that, suspiciously, showed no islands in a thousand miles, but the one dead in front of us was growing at sixteen knots. It was definitely an island, because it had a clear snow-capped mountain shining right in the middle of it. I felt a desperate urge to alter course to save the ship and the crew, but the bloody ship was running on some incomprehensible device called an autopilot and I had no idea how to switch it off and take command. Anyway, how would the Old Man react to my sending his ship careering all over the Indian Ocean? I was tempted to call the second mate in the pit, but that would cause a total loss of face for the engine room department.

Finally, just minutes before we hit the island, the third mate appeared. Nonchalantly I remarked that there seemed to be something ahead, but I had chosen to take no immediate action. He glanced out of the bridge screens and shrugged "Only a cloud. Get lots of them about here at this time of year."

The second mate and I met in the smoke room for a couple of beers and, thoroughly chastened, I admitted that I had just spent four hours being scared s***less. "You have!" He exclaimed. "There is not a god or a devil that will ever get me down in that bloody place again. There's dials and gauges all over the place, and those great lumps of steel going all ways when I had no idea what the f**k they were doing or why!"

The two of us got thoroughly pissed together and concluded the the old maxim of horses for courses was pretty accurate. So, perhaps, if cadet training involves a spell in both engine room and on the bridge, it might remove the need for watch keepers in each department to get pissed together in order to calm their shattered nerves.

Mind you, my opinion is probably worthless since I am long out of date with what goes on at sea nowadays. I believe that the idea of a mate and an engineer getting pissed together in the early hours off watch is strictly forbidden by the rabid prohibitionists who have gained control and, anyway, there will inevitably soon be GP officers who will be expected to stand a watch on the bridge and then a following one in the engine room, so they wouldn't have time to get pissed.

There will be no ABs on the bridge or oilers in the engine room, because a three-hundred thousand tonne tanker will only have six crew, and all of them will be officers. Everything will be automated using Microsoft-embedded operating systems that will be able to distinguish between my clouds and a threatening island, and will have a decision making capacity to send the ship careering all over the Indian Ocean as a result of an illegal operation error.

A GP officer will never see the engine room, because all maintenance and even cleaning will be carried out by cheap shore crews of Filipino immigrants at each port. The same crews will moor the ship upon arrival, because they are also GP. That officer will find himself locked in isolation in a control centre without any human contact and no Tennants, where he will have all of the information displays that make him responsible if the operating system develops a bug that runs the ship aground or into another. He won't know if a cooling water joint in the shaft tunnel is leaking and flooding the bilge wells because there are only so many sensors and displays that one can fit into a space designed for one occupant. Anyway, all good automation systems need a sacrificial goat.

That is not necessarily an important issue because, as automation develops, there will only need to be a master on every vessel in order to provide the sacrificial goat. He (or she) can be blamed for sinking a barge in Savannah when his (her) ship was supposed to be in Bristol.

In the fullness of time, of course, all ships at sea will be drones controlled by computer geeks in offices miles from the sea. There will be no masters or chief engineers, no engineers, no mates, no ABs or OSs. The ships will be free to career all over all sorts of oceans at leisure when Internet communication is lost due to a USA satellite having collided with a Russian one.

I don't want to appear unduly negative, but any youngster who manages to obtain a cadetship in the residues of the British merchant marine could, in a few short years find himself or herself alone in the oceans and without the comfort of Tennants, there for the sole purpose of blame in the courts of all sorts of mickey mouse countries who have declared themselves to be flag states. That he or she could never become familiar with the ships systems without a PhD in at least six disciplines is irrelevant

Even so, there is merit in the cadet training policies. Train the goat!
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Old 13th June 2015, 22:08
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I sailed with one Captain that had each Deck Officer spent a Maneuvering watch in the Engine Room. Once the ship was along side the dock the Deck Officer was sent up to tie up. The most important thing that this exercise accomplished was instead of multiple phone calls to start equipment and then a second call to find out why the equipment was not on. The Deck Officer found out how long it took to get to the pump open the valves and then start the pump.

Joe
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Old 14th June 2015, 16:34
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I asked the old man if I could do a standby on the bridge, to see how the other half lived.
Think it was Avonmouth, really, you are going to turn this big ship round in theat diddy little space, at least it I got an answer to the question on why we used so much air.
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Old 15th June 2015, 14:58
ed glover ed glover is offline  
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On the M.V. Pegu we cadets swapped watches with the apprentices for a week mine was was in the Rea Sea going to port Sudan, I found it very helpful in understanding what went on during the basic trip, starting, manovering, docking and just normal sea runs, ended up leaving navy and taking a tool and die apprenticeship, owned my own company until retirement.
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Old 30th June 2015, 23:39
waitimg for orders waitimg for orders is offline
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I remember our first female deck cadet on the Resolution in 76. She did her ER time in the Gulf and found it a bit warm. Her boiler suit got progressively more unbuttoned until she realised from the attention of the rude sailors that she was showing rather more than she wanted to. From that point she did it up to the neck, secured with a huge safety pin! She really tried hard and was a breath of fresh air on the ship - not easy being the only woman on board, she managed it well.
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Old 1st July 2015, 02:01
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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Originally Posted by waitimg for orders View Post
I remember our first female deck cadet on the Resolution in 76. She did her ER time in the Gulf and found it a bit warm. Her boiler suit got progressively more unbuttoned until she realised from the attention of the rude sailors that she was showing rather more than she wanted to. From that point she did it up to the neck, secured with a huge safety pin! She really tried hard and was a breath of fresh air on the ship - not easy being the only woman on board, she managed it well.
WFO,
Sarah Jane Pollock I presume, I located her in 2011. She certainly did well in later life you would need a Phd to compete.

Resolution; 7 JE's May 1976 (wow), Tony Fewkes CE, Alan Crowther 2E.

The initials R*S, C*T, P**W, N*W or D*S mean anything to you ?

I'll send you an SN PM

Graham
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Old 8th November 2018, 23:41
Steve Hodges Steve Hodges is offline  
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Just came across this old thread which stirred a few grey cells in the memory. My abiding memory of NavAps in the engine room was that they seemed to have been well briefed to beware the engineers taking the p--s out of them, hence this cautionary tale from one of the "P" class VLCCs.
A scupper line from the galley waste disposal unit led to a ships side valve down on the lower plates, from memory 2 or 3 inch diameter. It blocked up, and the 2/E elected to unblock it himself - he isolated the ships side valve, took all the bolts out of the flange connecting the pipe and went to knock a chisel in to part it. What he forgot was the pressure head in a blocked pipe going up about eight decks - it burst apart and showered him in stinking minced galley waste, his boily was soaked in it. When he came back into the control room dripping and ponging, me and my J/E thought it was hilarious, so the 2/E vowed that if it blocked again we were going to unblock it. Several weeks later sure enough it happened again, and sure enough we were detailed to deal with it. We dressed ourselves up in plastic aprons , elbow length rubber gloves and helmets with full face visors - but unfortunately the NavAp who was down with us for his E/R time thought that this was a big wind-up just for his benefit, and spurned our advice to get properly "kitted up". We felt duty bound to give him the honour of splitting the flange while we hid behind the nearest frame. He still thought it was a wind-up right up until the flanges parted...........
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Old 11th November 2018, 10:37
david freeman david freeman is offline  
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graham, you are banging that blank flange like the er tail whalla at the end of the watch. Did not bother one until the all aft engineers or the totally all aft built tankers, after the 'Malpassa, King Hakkon and Matra'' incidents, and the advent of Inert gas installations.
You are asking about GP ships and their crews and officers. Before the 'night of the long knives, and lay ups in Brunai. The Bp cadets deck and engine cadet were tried to undertake during their cadetship both ER and deck watch keeping experience such that it qualified for a class 4 (deck or and engine certificate of competancy sea time) This idea while enlightening was shelved as the total sea time assuming one received attained OND equivalent in navigation and engine room sea qualifications, the actual sea time within in discipline was the ''mind bender and the authorities under IMO would not consider the idea, so it fell by the wayside. AT time i think Ian Hesslop was the 'tin god' of the apprenticeship schemes [deck and engine for BP], so while a few cadet may have been encouraged to alternate between deck and engine time , they were purely 'guinea pigs''. I think by this time the idea of a rating or cadet on deck becoming a captain '' through the hawse pipe'' was by far gone, into the past. A young person wishing to become either an enginner office or deck office had to attend a full time shore educational establishment and obtain the required academic qualification.
One interesting fact is that the regulators [BOTRADE-DTI Marine department] have not to my knowledge to this day not stopped any person sitting for a 'a ticket deck or engine once they hold the initail certificated of competancy and then changing to sit the other [Deck or eng cert} provided they have the requires academic qualification, and the basic required sea time--Here is the downfall remember 'lecky's could sit a cetificate of competancy engine, (2/E] basic certificate, however the sea time on artclies [thats the catch- was some 12 years]. so I do not see a person changing from deck to eng/engine to deck having to reduce pay and take the bull and trials and tribulations of have once been a responsible office going back to relearn the ropes.
I f any one knows who has completed and holds both the capt/masters and c/e certificate of competency, pleas can you relate you personal experence and under which flag state the appropriate certificates were issued.
I believe the term GP crews and officers has been misinterpreted- It was /is a way of basically reducing a ships manning costs and the day of the remote vessels on satellite controlled voyages is not far away. one policing of the oceans can be attained with respect to Piracy, and navigation in busy waterways such as dover and singapore. Just a thought for today, reliability of plant and navigation in ice/fog near to the coast remainst a /MUST and should come first
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Old 13th November 2018, 14:32
sparks69 sparks69 is offline  
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As secretary to the Planning Meeting I used to enjoy sailing with a certain Scottish Master who would present me with a copy of the meeting minutes about an hour before the actual meeting. I tried once to bring a bit of reality to the minutes but that was stamped on with a large foot !
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Old 13th November 2018, 14:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Wallace View Post
WFO,
Sarah Jane Pollock I presume, I located her in 2011. She certainly did well in later life you would need a Phd to compete.

Resolution; 7 JE's May 1976 (wow), Tony Fewkes CE, Alan Crowther 2E.

The initials R*S, C*T, P**W, N*W or D*S mean anything to you ?

I'll send you an SN PM

Graham
Graham, I'm intrigued, what did become of Sarah Pollack.
Sailed with her - a delightful young lady.
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Old 13th November 2018, 16:44
david freeman david freeman is offline  
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a voice from the past

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Wallace View Post
WFO,
Sarah Jane Pollock I presume, I located her in 2011. She certainly did well in later life you would need a Phd to compete.

Resolution; 7 JE's May 1976 (wow), Tony Fewkes CE, Alan Crowther 2E.

The initials R*S, C*T, P**W, N*W or D*S mean anything to you ?

I'll send you an SN PM

Graham

Hello you fellow studiers of these pages/blogs.
The capitals as out lined, are they relating to GP crews of white and Asiatic crews? Or are they terms that were used by the international pool in Rotterdam for ships personnel??
R*S---- Registered seaman----- radio and signalling proficiency
C*T---- certificate of time on combined watchkeeping duties {deck/eng]
P**W--port man of watch-----position of responsibilty and watch keeping proficiency
N*W---night watchman---nautical watchkeeping[deck]
D*S----discharged seaman. --- desination as seaman [rank]
Or are the capitals seamans slang in derogatory terms?
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Old 14th November 2018, 09:07
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Did my Engine Room time on the Br Admiral, they worked 8 hours on 16 hours off at the time. Actually enjoyed it doing the 1600-2400 watch with the 3rd Eng, used to do the boiler water testing and numerous other menial tasks as well! The bar would send down potatoes in the lift, wrapped in foil during the eve, and we would cook them on a steam pipe, send them back up and get some cold softies in return!
Best event was one eve when the lift was supposedly bringing down the 2nd Eng just before midnight, so the 3rd and myself ambushed it between floors with jugs of water - unfortunately the lift also contained the Chief!! He did, fortunately, see the funny side as we all got on so well.
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Old 14th November 2018, 17:58
Andrew147 Andrew147 is offline  
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Graham. I was on the Resolution from mid May to November 76 as 3/E. Tony Fewkes was probably the best CE I sailed with.
7 JE's? I know we had a fully staffed engine room but not that well staffed.
I assume I met Miss Pollock then, around then we always seemed to have a Miss nav cadet around and they were certainly bright compared to the eng cadets.
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Old 14th November 2018, 18:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ninabaker View Post
As has been mentioned, it was a requirement of the MNTB cadet training scheme that deck cadets had to do at least 2 weeks in the engineroom. My Cadet record book is now at the National Maritime Museum so I cannot look up to see if it specified what that to be done in that two weeks.
Nina
The Navigating Cadet's Record Book doesn't actually mention anything at all about engine room time.
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