Muslim, Hindu, White or Chinese Crews? - Page 2 - Ships Nostalgia

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Muslim, Hindu, White or Chinese Crews?

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Old 18th August 2009, 11:43
McCloggie McCloggie is offline  
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Can I ask a question please?

With regard to Muslim crews wanting to know the direction of Mecca, I have worked with on an FPSO coversion where we designed a Prayer Room complete with compass into the accommodation. This facility was obviously specifed by the owner/operator depending on where the vessel was going to work and I know there are other FPSOs like this.

Were similar facilities available on working cargo vessels and if so when were they introduced or did the Muslim crews normally have to ask the bridge which way to face and then use the upper deck?

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Old 18th August 2009, 11:47
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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They weren't on any ship I sailed on.

If they didn't know, they had to ask the direction to face. One Second Mate I sailed with thought it was funny to tell a Somali crew the wrong direction - it wasn't so funny when they twigged it!

John T.
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Old 18th August 2009, 16:51
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Alan Rawlinson Alan Rawlinson is offline
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It was a regular occurance in the 50's for the officer of the watch on the bridge to be asked " Which way Mecca, Sahib? "
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Old 25th January 2019, 16:08
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Waighty Waighty is offline  
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I found Bank Line crews (Indian or Bangladeshi) mostly good, although in the early 1980s the Forward Seaman's Union (Calcutta [Kolkatta]) and its somewhat radical views started to permeate. On Troutbank in 1982 we had a few disputes over interpretation of Indian Articles of Agreement.

Chinese crews in Ben Line were mostly good but liable to have fearsome rows and punch-ups when gambling (mahjong) issues arose. I witnessed two seamen taking lumps out of each other with chippng hammers! British crews in Ben Line generally were long time company men and many from the Highlands and Northern Isles. Good workers but when drink was taken tended to become one of two types - either aggressive and trucculent or maudlin and subdued.

I sailed with Irish crews on coasters for a short spell and they were solid workers with a highly developed sense of humour. It's just as well the ships were gearless as raising and lowering derricks would have taken ages owing to the constant banter, jokes and laughter.

The most interesting crew I sailed with was when I did a part trip as 2nd Mate on a Helmville Ltd bulk/timber/general cargo vessel (mv Jocelyne). Brand new ship joining in Bilbao with British crew. Up to Hamburg to load full bulk cargo of potash. Once loaded, the crew walked off and refused to reboard saying the ship was unsafe and that living conditions were sub-standard - not 100% true although there were issues. The owner and various shoreside minions, frantic in case we were taken off hire, got a new crew from the Antwerp NUS Pool and yes apparently in those days the British NUS did have such a pool but I stand to be corrected. New crew were multi national - Mexican, Chilean, Cape Verde and Nigerian. We were dubious to start with but they turned out to be excellent. The Bosun was a Mexican who's father was high up in TMM and he was at sea to learn the ropes (pun unintended) before joining TMM's management team. His control of the crew was very good. The Chippy was Chilean - a massive 6' 5" bear of a man who knew his job perfectly. All in all we officers thought fortune had smiled on us. Since I paid off a month later I never did know how things progressed afterwards.

Last edited by Waighty; 25th January 2019 at 16:10..
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Old 25th January 2019, 22:25
Mexico1971 Mexico1971 is offline
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MV Willowbank had West Indian crew, the motormen were fine and I recall they discovered the whereabouts of the Jamaican Stowaways (in the tunnel)!!
I also recall the MV Crestbank alongside in Jeddah the Muslim crew were not allowed to set foot on the quayside to carry out their prayer rituals.
Interesting times.
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Old 26th January 2019, 05:31
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I remember some British ships had crews from Mao's China, Silver Line was one. The mess rooms were festooned with political posters.
You can call me Eric, just don't call me late to dinner.
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