What happened in 1986? - Ships Nostalgia
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What happened in 1986?

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  #1  
Old 24th January 2008, 20:18
mofnotmuff mofnotmuff is offline  
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What happened in 1986?

I have seen references to BP shipping staff being made redundant/ given notice in 1986 - I left the company in 1985 after 5 years and 9 ships and have not kept in touch with anybody I sailed with and so i am unsure what happened- did all shipping staff get laid off and ships flagged out?
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  #2  
Old 25th January 2008, 15:35
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The choice given was sign off exsisting articles, walk round the table and sign up again on FOC articles, or, take you money and run, only running after our Lords and Masters had actually found a replacement. Redundancy payments were identical whichever option one chose.

We were on our way to Swansea when the big message landed, there, two "gentleman" from HQ arrived to give us the full story. A combined meeting was held in the officers bar, first error, some moron of a seaman started bleating about the mail delivery on his previous ship........

Really we were lucky to be arriving in a UK port, must have been much worse for those deep sea and out of touch, all this before the days of satcom and so on.

The first thing one of our engineers who was on leave new about loosing his job was when the BBC TV news came on, and the first item was about BP's ships going FOC, nice.

The agency running our little group was MMS, understood this stood for Mickey Mouse Shipping, the mouth's from HQ did not appreciate this version.

Me, I decided to take the money and run. Five weeks or so later I was finally taken off when they managed to find someone to replace me, not sure that he had ever been to sea before. Think the "J/E" that arrived at the same time was a full time p*ss head so he slotted in well.

It would be interesting to know the breakdown of those signing on FOC and how long they lasted, and how many like me, took the money and ran as soon as possible.

twogrumpy

Last edited by twogrumpy; 25th January 2008 at 15:39..
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  #3  
Old 17th February 2008, 00:58
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I was on leave when I received my letter; and was one of the many who took the money and ran. I've been ashore ever since but often wonder how things turned out for those who took jobs with the new management companies and whether or not I did the right thing. Is there anyone out there who took advantage of the new positions and how did it work out?
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  #4  
Old 24th March 2008, 16:27
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1986 and All That

I was on leave from Success having taken her new from Belfast as C/E.
I got my redundancy notice watching the BBC 6 o'clock news at home.

This was the great idea of Fleet Personnel to save the company money, i.e. no longer would seafarers have access to the pension scheme or the share scheme and you would only be paid during the time on the ship.

The problem was there were three manning companies selected
AcoMarit, Dorchester Marine and Wallems you had no choice as to which one you got as they each had a number of ships and you got the manning company which had your ship and then you were stuck with that manning company.

Of course BP thought everything would remain the same forgetting that we the seafarers no longer actually worked for them, although they liked to think that we did.
What happened to me, went to the B. Respect, I still had kids at school so could not suddenly leave, then had to leave at Gib with kidney stone so lost my slot and was told I would have to stay at home for about 5 months ( no pay) until I could fit in again.

Went to China Nav (Swire Group) for their steam VLCC Eriskay and suddenly found that here was a company who actually stilll wanted to employ there own staff, paid more than Bp via the manning agents and dished out an annual bonus.

I feel that BP perpertrated the biggest con ever with the redundancies no consulation with staff, I had worked for them for 28 years since joining as a cadet in 1958 but apart from the rundancy which they had to pay as per GROUP policy, no recognition at all, Heaslip was the perpertrator of the idea and the story always was that he had not realised that all the GROUP terms would have to be met.
R. Hodgson
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  #5  
Old 24th March 2008, 18:03
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Very surprised when it happened, rather than shocked to the core. (It devastated some people!).

I heard about it in the evening via a phone call from our 2/0 (Sulair - so we were all on leave together), watched the late news and there it was. The "letter" arrived the next morning. In retrospect, it was a much easier let-down for the North Sea guys as we weren't stuck with a vessel for months before being able to exercise a choice.

I was gone within a couple of months and, after a shaky couple of years, haven't looked back. I did get a great training from them but the bitter after-taste of our "off-loading" still lingers.
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  #6  
Old 24th March 2008, 20:19
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Interesting comment from Robert that BP thought everything would remain the same, can only assume they got a bit of a shock.

Would like to hear more from those who stuck it out for a few years, only bit of info. I got was about a local lecky who spent all/most of his leave in Spain to avoid paying income tax. Does not sound like much of a life to me.

Would have been a good chance to keep all their British officers and go for Indian crews, but by this time even they were starting to go downhill.
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  #7  
Old 25th March 2008, 11:47
Roberth1 Roberth1 is offline  
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!986 and all that

I agree with Geoff, I did get great training with BP something which stood me well in the years after 1986 but the whole thing and the way it was carried out left a long and bitter taste in my mouth.

How could a company lke BP agree to carry out such a thing without any consultation.
I actaully remained in the system for two years going to China Nav in 1998.

What happened "Two Grumpy" in my experience was that as far as the officers were concerned fell into three broad groups.
1) Some of those old enough got a full pension and took the oppertunity and retired early.
2) Some like me at 44 got an ex-gratia kind of pension but it was not enough to live on so stuck with the system until I could find something better.
3) Younger guys like a lot of engineers who had been sailing in a rank but holding superior certificates suddenly found there were a lot of companies who wanted to employ them in a rank matching their certificates and left.

In other words a lot of good guys left, and suddenly out of the wood work came people from all over, not of the best I have to say. What BP had not realised was that no one was worried anymore, everyone had been sacked what was the worst that could happen, you would be sacked!!!
Towards the end of my time with BP I sailed on the Gas Enterprise and remember on joining the ship for my 28 days to complete the gas endorsement that the C/E was the only ex BP man out of all the engineers.

Robert
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  #8  
Old 25th March 2008, 12:02
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It happened the other way for me I was sailing on Wallems Reefers when we learnt we were going to manage 13 BP Tankers. The same night I got a phone call from some Gent in BP in our office in the Isle of Man saying would i consider moving over to BP. I received the same money in pounds as i was presently being paid in Dollars so a very good pay rise overnight. I flew out to join the British Respect in the Gulf waited 14 days in a hotel in Dubai until she came out of the War Zone. There were 3 of us as we were termed Agency People so at first a bit of animosity onboard until the regular BP guys realized they were working for us and not us working for BP. They still tried to run the vessel BP style but no way were we going to pay for ships mail and dobbie dust. Problem was it was mostly the junior officers who took the money and ran. I also sailed on the Gas Enterprise for 9 months and was fortunate to have 6 ex BP Old Men onboard for Gas Training.
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Old 25th March 2008, 12:43
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9 months on the Enterprise?
Nev you have my deepest sympathies!
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  #10  
Old 25th March 2008, 13:12
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As I said previously, I took the money and ran.

From what I have seen so far this was the wise thing to do, nice little wedge, and young enough to start again.

Got a nice number with a large pharmaceutical company in instrumentation/electrical work, even had a CHP plant with a biggish dual fuel Peilstick so much like being at sea, as my mechanical colleague was ex MN and most of the operators ex RN.

Did that for 11 years, then well and truly stuffed by the EU and the company, so the plant was shut down.

Never felt bitter about treatment from BP, but was very bitter about being stuffed by the EU.

twogrumpy
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  #11  
Old 26th March 2008, 04:37
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James

Fantastic runs but breakdowns every other day
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  #12  
Old 26th March 2008, 21:54
mofnotmuff mofnotmuff is offline  
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thanks to all who have contributed - it makes me glad i jumped when i did - i left BP and did 1 trip with BUE dive ships out of leith, 2 months off the rough gas field with occasional run to grimsby convinced me to swallow the anchor. I went to college to study building studies, I am now a chartered surveyor, fire engineer and have a degree in fire engineering. I wonder what i would have become if I had hung on like some of you.
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Old 26th March 2008, 22:28
MichaelGeorgiou MichaelGeorgiou is offline  
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and now I fly the guys out to the rough field (and others) from Humberside. A lot of the old bp chiefs stayed and then took their pensions at age 55, stayed in rank on 50-60k/year equal time on and off. not a bad number. lots of turnover just before I left and many indians now employed.
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Old 2nd August 2008, 23:17
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I once met a cook who had stayed on with the Agency, but said his leaves started getting longer and he could no longer afford the wait and came shoreside.

It was pretty evident that going down the Agency line was to placate the Government, and that further down the line we were going to be cast aside.
I recall a collision in the Channel with I think a River Boat and two or three crew were killed, and they were from West Africa.
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Old 12th August 2008, 20:19
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Originally Posted by neillg View Post
I once met a cook who had stayed on with the Agency, but said his leaves started getting longer and he could no longer afford the wait and came shoreside.

It was pretty evident that going down the Agency line was to placate the Government, and that further down the line we were going to be cast aside.
I recall a collision in the Channel with I think a River Boat and two or three crew were killed, and they were from West Africa.
The ship in question was "British Trent" - she was registered in Bermuda and had british and irish officers and a sierra leonne crew and 2 wives on board. she was outbound from anwerp in thick fog, loaded with a cargo of petrol for italy. she collided with "western winner" which was panamanian and crewed by s.koreans. she was carrying copper dross. A fire started which claimed 9 lives on the trent - she was subsequently declared a total loss and srapped in turkey. western winner proceeded to discharge and repair - there were no casualties. the inquiry blamed human error for the collision and the fatalities on the open lifeboats which offered no protection to the crew escaping the trent.
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Old 24th February 2010, 21:30
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Originally Posted by twogrumpy View Post
We were on our way to Swansea when the big message landed, there, two "gentleman" from HQ arrived to give us the full story. A combined meeting was held in the officers bar, first error, some moron of a seaman started bleating about the mail delivery on his previous ship........

....Really we were lucky to be arriving in a UK port, must have been much worse for those deep sea and out of touch, all this before the days of satcom and so on.
I was in a similar situation as you, I was Sparks on the Test at the time. I remember that I'd just showered and changed for dinner and on leaving my cabin I heard the Telex clattering away so I went to check it out. It turned out to be the notice about redundancies. When I left to go for dinner I locked the Radio Room, something I never did at sea, as the message was still printing out and I couldn't allow anyone to see it before the Old Man did!
I arrived for dinner late, and I was never late, so everyone in the room new something important may have come through but I couldn't say anything, it was very hard keeping a straight face and making up some story as to why my wife and I were late.

I too decided to take the money and run.

Like you I couldn't believe the guy they sent to relieve me. I left the ship in Swansea and spent 3 days trying to show him how to use the equipment, I seemed to spend as much time getting him out of the bar has handing over! He was a nice enough guy but he was seriously out of touch with the latest technology.

The ship sailed from Swansea to New York, it came as no surprise when I got a call from the new manning agency asking me if I'd fly out to New York and take over again. I refused but I had a mate who was between jobs and put them onto him, he flew out instead.

Bob

Last edited by Treborvfr; 24th February 2010 at 21:33..
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  #17  
Old 25th February 2010, 22:24
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I was home on leave, saw the news and got the phone call the next day. I suppose the writing was well on the wall but I got offered 2nd cooks job next trip with Wallems which was a compensation for me. I stuck it out until 89 when they sold the Security. It was'nt all bad under agency as long as you accepted your time was nearly up, what did annoy me was some ex BP men coming back who had actually left BP before the redundancies and found themselves back via agency and did nowt but twist and moan. Sailed with a PO on the Respect who had to be possibly the most bitter and twisted man, with a massive chip on the shoulder I've ever had the displeasure of sailing with, he spoilt that trip for a lot of people. Golden rule in life. 'If you don't like who you work for, LEAVE'.
Still had some good trips under agency it's just a shame it was allowed to go so Pete Tong.
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Old 26th February 2010, 09:36
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Originally Posted by Treborvfr View Post
I too decided to take the money and run.

Like you I couldn't believe the guy they sent to relieve me. I left the ship in Swansea and spent 3 days trying to show him how to use the equipment, I seemed to spend as much time getting him out of the bar has handing over! He was a nice enough guy but he was seriously out of touch with the latest technology.

Bob
I seem to recall of the three who eventually came to replace us, the J/e had bar problems, not sure if my relief, the Lecky, had ever seen a ship before, unable to remember what the third person was like.

Well out of it.
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Old 27th February 2010, 10:41
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Did a double header on the Wye first trip under agency and when the first crew were releived it was mainly agency guys who joined. They hit the bar like a whirlwind. There had been no real big spirit drinkers amongst the crew who were leaving, but boy did this lot clear the optics in record time. We had a night watch on at the time coz we were MOD charter alongside in Portsmouth (or could have been Plymouth). Anyway the mate came down mid afternoon and says to the Bosun "who's night watch tonight"? Bosun points to prone figure flat out on bar floor and says "he is chief". Yep Definetly a culture change.
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Old 2nd March 2010, 01:07
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I was listening to two new BP tanker talking on the VHF in the gulf of Mexico last week, they reverted to their native language "RUSSIAN". How far the mighty have fallen, at least they have brand new ships to screw up. I don't think even now they think they made a big mistake in 1986. In 1988 I had to turn down one of our own river class ships for loading a single grade of gasolene, they were arrested after a rain storm as the deck hydraulics leaked into the the Houston ship channal. It was a very frustrating night trying to explain to our Commonwealth brethern that it was normal for deck officer to fix the leaking deck hydraulics in BP, not in their contact job description I was informed.
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Old 2nd March 2010, 19:09
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[QUOTE=Jon Vincent;406093]. How far the mighty have fallen, at least they have brand new ships to screw up. .[/QUOT]

Sums the whole mess up pretty well Jon.
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Old 2nd March 2010, 19:25
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I was listening to two new BP tanker talking on the VHF in the gulf of Mexico last week, they reverted to their native language "RUSSIAN". How far the mighty have fallen, at least they have brand new ships to screw up. I don't think even now they think they made a big mistake in 1986. In 1988 I had to turn down one of our own river class ships for loading a single grade of gasolene, they were arrested after a rain storm as the deck hydraulics leaked into the the Houston ship channal. It was a very frustrating night trying to explain to our Commonwealth brethern that it was normal for deck officer to fix the leaking deck hydraulics in BP, not in their contact job description I was informed.

Oh it was 1986 that brought that on - it came much later. Whether you like it or not what happened in 1986 saved the fleet, What happened later, around 2000 onwards got rid of the Brits. Russian though - I don't think so. Polish much more likely.

If you thought things were bad in '86 you should have seen what they became later - I seethe even thinking about it. Apparently we were dragged into the 21st century - which is a new way of saying constructively dismissed.

I am actually getting angry here just typing about it. If you get the chance to get a hold of The Flag aka Pravda the in-house organ of propaganda especially from a few years ago read it and weep for the demise of a once great company.
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  #23  
Old 11th March 2010, 00:24
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Well now.....

I came through '86, and the three "nights of the long knives" which preceded it, starting to lose staff selectively around 1980 onwards. I was actually seconded to BUE anchor handlers for 12 months, so was completely out of the loop - came home January from the North Sea run, and saw a 1-minute clip on the lunchtime news - first news I'd had. All the Office phones were "off the hook" for days; even the Union couldn't make contact. I have to say, in the couple of weeks thereafter, I chased a number of alternative jobs at sea, but as soon as you got to "who was your previous company", the phone went dead. Word was out, I still believe.
Anyhow, I stuck it out, and am still here. Terms and conditions are about level with the field, so unless you have a serious beef with the management, or a yen to try different trades or tonnage, there's not a lot of point moving at my time of life.

So, where are we now?
No Russians.
Some 55 or so ships, plus 4 Chinese Steam LNG's on a manning/training agreement.
Officers are a mixture of Brits, Polish, with one or two Kiwi, a couple of Aussies, and a lot of Southern Irish lads.
Crews are universally Filipino (Chinese LNG are a completely different deal).
The first maybe two years after the change of life saw some real rough staff all round, but they were relatively quickly weeded out, and the three-agency deal came down to one, Dorchester maritime, after around 4 years. They were finally dropped about 3 years ago, BP now having their own agency, BPMS - BP Maritime Services, working out of Singapore, with an IOM Office.
We are still regarded by the Office as BP employees, while remaining exclusively on "Agency" terms and conditions. Pensions, redundancy, etc, all finished in 86, and won't be back.
On top of that, there are still selected managers who feel that all the 86 crowd should be dumped for "souring the pot" for the new guys.
I love that - "stop calling us heartless, or you're all fired".

Anyhow, with not more than a couple more years to run, it's not such a bad place to be, and there's always other outfits for a Senior British ticket, so there's a lot less angst about the whole affair than there was in the old days.

And it's true enough; the radical shake-up did save the company - it ran down to about 20 ships for some years (aforementioned Gas Enterprise virtually kept it running; everything lost money at the time). But conditions could have eased as the recovery came in..but those same senior managers who hate us remembering 86 still keep to the 86 principle themselves - don't get into that position again, vis-a-vis Group terms, pensions, etc. Upshot is that the whole outfit now owns zero ships (all bareboat chartered), employs zero staff (all Agency), and owns zero offices (all now Group Offices) - the whole lot could disappear overnight at the stroke of an accountants pen.

So there we stand. Roll on retirement!

Longfellow.
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Old 11th March 2010, 14:17
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Longfellow. I am not up in Eastern block languages, they could well have been Polish. Russian/Polish you have totally missed the point that most people have made under the title of what happened in 1986. BP ceased to be the shipping company that nearly all the people here talk about, namely an owner operator of ships. BP is and never will be the company it once was by your admission it owns nothing and technically employs no one. I too an still working, as a mooring master in the Gulf of Mexico, it that capacity I board over approx 70 vessel a year and interface through my job with well over a hundred, believe me there is a big difference in staff employed by owner operators and angencies and the vessels they serve on. You can tell the difference just on the walk from the gangway to the accomodation. Agnecies are only interested in your ceretificate nothing else, they know you won't stay long but migrate to the next compay that offers promotion or a dollar more per day, the ships will be less well looked after because they might never see it again, especially the junior staff. I draw my BP pension every month and look back on happy days spent with great crews and well looked after by a company whose motto was " From the cardle to the grave with BP". They shattered that in 1986. So get real BP was the best run, most rpofessional company in the world. That company ceased to exist in 1986. Thankfully I work for an owner operator that is far larger than the regurgitated version of BP that exists today.
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Old 11th March 2010, 15:23
Longfellow Longfellow is offline  
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Hmm.

It's a long time since I was told to "get real".....this is as real as it gets, and it is really not that bad. OK, the "cradle-to-grave" philosophy did exist, no question, but mixed in with the dedicated and professional "good guys" were an awful lot of "cradle-to-gravers" who couldn't see straight from 10 in the morning to collapse in the evening, and a lot of guys who were not worth their salary but knew they would not be fired. Beware the rosy specs job - it was different, certainly, but by no means the nirvana sometimes expressed here with hindsight.
BP, for all their faults, still see themselves as a "state of the art" company; they see their serving staff as BP staff, rather than agency, and the standards of appearance, maintenance, performance and staff training are, in my opinion, higher now than they've ever been, whatever you think about the outfit as an entity.
Sure it's not the company it once was, but the world has changed, and the market has changed radically, along with the legislation that goes with it. Whatever the particular circumstances, even if the "old" BP had carried on, it would have been a radically different beast anyway.
I still take a pride in the ship, it's appearance, and it's performance, as do all the crews I've sailed with bar those couple of years straight after 86. I just regret the lack of security and I suppose "status" that goes with Group emloyment, and the apparent fragility that goes with the "own nothing" approach.

Hope that's put my view in perspective - I'm neither praising nor slagging off the old regime, and equally the new - it's just different, and over a lot of years, I've come to terms with it.

Longfellow.
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