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I was a 1955 intake “BP Marine Engineering Apprentice”, I have been running a website with that title (in the plural) for about 7 years. I originally started it for two reasons, firstly to find information about the British Crown disaster in August 1966 and secondly to search for and make a database of all ex-engineering apprentices (named Engineering Cadets in 1965) from 1952 onwards. This list is now over 2100 names, 300 of whom I have located and have a little information on each of the remaining 1900. I send a copy of this list to each new apprentice contact I make. I am continually searching for new apprentice/cadet contacts.

About 5 years ago I expanded the database to include all departments and now have a total listing of almost 500 personnel sailing on 315 different BP tankers. (The basic information I require is vessel, rank/rating and joining/leaving dates). Once I get this information I will send you an updated copy

There are many here at SN who already know me and the website, I am always interested in any new contacts, friends of friends as long as ex BP. Any information I receive other than BP sea time is kept confidential and I have been occasionally successful in reconnecting old friends.

BP have never been able to help due to a variety of reasons. The ‘Alternative Marine Engineering Apprenticeship scheme’ only started in 1952 but it seems there are no official records remaining for any of those last 55 years, which is a pity. Over the years I have gained a full intake complement for 1952/59 and 1964 and numerous more individuals in other years up to one person in 1993, even D.G.Alcock’s son! (Though not located him, but still hoping). Some of you might remember Don Bootle?

I have been collecting copies/originals of Dry dock lists, Ships Movements, Apprentices Newsletters (Navigating & Engineering), Fleet News, “The British Tankers” book, editions of 1995 and 2005. I also have sources for other dates of Ships Movements lists; these lists have proven helpful to others at times. If you have retained any please send me a copy. In 2002 I found in a UK used bookstore a copy of the ‘Institute of Marine Engineers Centenary Handbook 1989’ which has been invaluable. I have a number of ships photos but really leave that to others.

If you are interested send me an email.

Graham Wallace
 

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I started out as a deckboy with B.P. on the Judge. I was in the Statesman when she had the collision and a few others, good firm.
 

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was on british promise 1946 went abadan aden then to freemantle .food awfull talk of a few juming .chief steward said food would be better now fed us steak eggs .when left it was back to crap again
 

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John
The Statesman had 2 collisions as I recall as follows

British Statesman
Shell plating of one tank buckled and tank leaking. Shell plating of poop for about 80 feet buckled, leak kept under control by pumping water from tank bottom.
Cause of collision
San Cirilo is of the opinion that British Statesman was off her course and not keeping a proper lookout, as she was abaft San Cirilo's beam. San Cirilo hoisted N.U.C. lights after collision to warn next astern.
British Statesman thinks the San Cirilo came across from her starboard side and considers that her showing N.U.C. lights after collision is a confession of guilt.
It is probable that both ships were steering slightly converging courses - wind and sea on beam made steering difficult, both H.M. Ships, King George V and California were in difficulties that night from steering trouble.
I would assess blame equally. The night was dark, but not excessively so, except during rain squalls. It was during one of these squalls that I had switched on a shaded stern light. San Cirilo had followed motions and was burning a shaded stern light at time of collision."

Reginald A. Fessenden 24.10.63 Damaged in collision with BRITISH STATESMAN near Lisbon. Towed to Lisbon but CTL.
 

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The collision I am on about happened in Dec 69. We had arrived off Flushing fully loaded and went to anchor. There was thick fog at the time and the pilot decided to anchor us in deeper water, we came astern for 11 mins and smacked into the Indian bulkie Abkar Jayanti which holed her from no5 into her accommodation and knocked a lovely big hole in our stern, There wasnt much left aft of the F.D. fans. It all got a bit confusing after that, a Jap cargo boat hit us about 9 port, another lovely hole in us, went astern came ahead and demolished the boat deck, we swung around hit the flattie Shoram and recieved a hole in 2 stb for our trouble. Somewhere while things were rapidly going down the pan a Phillipino cargo boat drifted past us with a nice fat hole in her, god knows who did that but it wasnt us,there was also a Russian tanker with a hole in her. It was quite an interesting time and got us all home for christmas.Happy days, janathull.
 

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Nev & Janathull,
Many thanks for that info - she seemed to have been quite accident prone. Where did the collision with the San Cirilo happen Nev?
I remember being in a similar position as the incident with the San Cirilo when I was Uncert. 3/0 on the Clyde Guardian. Motoring down the Red Sea there was a vessel very slightly abaft our starboad beam when I came on watch at 08.00. By 10.00 she was exactly abeam but much closer. Was she overtaking or should she be regarded as a crossing vessel? By 11.00 I chickened out & put the wheel hard over to port & did a full circle until I came up on her starboard side to resume our normal course. This must have coincided with the Old Man getting up from his desk to open the gin bottle & having a look out of the window to see the horizon spinning round at an alarming rate. I think he nearly had had a heart attack by the time he reached the bridge.
He did accept my explanation & that rather than slow the engine down & let the other vessel pass ahead of us, it was easier all round to take the action I did. It was one of those grey areas in deciding which rule applies.
Kind regards,
John.
 

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Just to add to the Statesmans collision, I have had time to think about it and after we hit the Indian we came away from her and the Phillipino hit her entering through no5 and coming to rest against the accomodation. I still dont know who banged a hole in the side of the Philipino. There was only two casualtys, two indians jumped over the side of the bulk carrier andwere later picked up cold but O.K. I wouldnt fancy jumping into the water at Flushing in the winter. Regards janathull
 

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Nev & Janathull,
Many thanks for that info - she seemed to have been quite accident prone. Where did the collision with the San Cirilo happen Nev?
I remember being in a similar position as the incident with the San Cirilo when I was Uncert. 3/0 on the Clyde Guardian. Motoring down the Red Sea there was a vessel very slightly abaft our starboad beam when I came on watch at 08.00. By 10.00 she was exactly abeam but much closer. Was she overtaking or should she be regarded as a crossing vessel? By 11.00 I chickened out & put the wheel hard over to port & did a full circle until I came up on her starboard side to resume our normal course. This must have coincided with the Old Man getting up from his desk to open the gin bottle & having a look out of the window to see the horizon spinning round at an alarming rate. I think he nearly had had a heart attack by the time he reached the bridge.
He did accept my explanation & that rather than slow the engine down & let the other vessel pass ahead of us, it was easier all round to take the action I did. It was one of those grey areas in deciding which rule applies.
Kind regards,
John.

John, Interesting bit about "rather than slow the engine down" - was this an aversion particular to BP do you think? I can remember many occasions in my early days as 3rd/2nd Mate in BP where slowing down would have got me out of a sticky situation, but instead ended up making major course alterations for exactly the same reason as you.

Regards,

Paul.
 

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Paul,
Welcome to the site.
As you say, reducing engine revs could get you out of tricky situations. Yes - I would say that it was a BP aversion. It seemed that once "Full Away" had been rung, slowing down the engine was an absolute last resort & this seemed to have been inbred in me on all vessels right from when I first started as an apprentice. Not being an engineer I'm not sure what was involved in reducing the engine revs but I was always led to believe, rightly or wrongly, that it involved the engineers in a great deal of extra work.
Kind regards,
John.
 

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John,
Such an attitude is still prevalent today, with slowing down being a definite taboo, perhaps even more so in these days of 'must be maintained' Charter Speeds etc.
On some of the 70s/80s built ships (steam and diesel), if you pulled the stick back (bridge control) without giving the Engineers at least an hours notice and calling the Old Man, it normally meant the Engine would stop and the ship black out...
On the newer ships (still slow speed diesels of course), pulling her back will cause an awful lot of alarms and produce some abusive phone calls from the Engine Room, but she will keep going. Modern day non watchkeeping engineers don't like having their bar/Movie/sleep time disturbed by work related issues you see.
Thankfully, I'm now on ships which have CPP, so the Engines are at the disposal of the OOW 24/7. Very handy when you're cantering up Malacca, Hormuz or the Channel.
It did take me a little while to get out of the old mindset though!
 

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Jim,
Interesting.......Glad to know that it wasn't just me who thought that way. I wonder how BP would have fared in a Court of law following a collision if this philosophy had ever come out?
Incidentally, what's CPP - sorry to be so ignorant but some of us 50s & 60s sailors are not too familiar with current nomenclature!
What type of vessel are you on these days?
Kind regards,
John.
 

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Paul,
Welcome to the site.
As you say, reducing engine revs could get you out of tricky situations. Yes - I would say that it was a BP aversion. It seemed that once "Full Away" had been rung, slowing down the engine was an absolute last resort & this seemed to have been inbred in me on all vessels right from when I first started as an apprentice. Not being an engineer I'm not sure what was involved in reducing the engine revs but I was always led to believe, rightly or wrongly, that it involved the engineers in a great deal of extra work.
Kind regards,
John.
John,
I don't know if it was the same on all the VLCC steamers, but on the P-class, once you were FAOP you changed over from the main condenser circulating pump to what was called "the scoop". This was an inlet on one side of the hull and outlet on the other, and the ship's speed through the water sent cooling water through the condenser without using a pump. If you slowed down with the engine room unmanned, the condenser could overheat , lose vacuum and trip the turbines. Same thing happened if you made a sharp turn. I can recall being roused from my scratcher at dawn by the duty engineer's cabin alarm, to find all hell breaking out below, the mate having had to take severe measures to avoid one of our wandering flag-of-convenience brethren.
Best regards
Steve
 

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John,
CPP stands for Controllable Pitch Propellers. What I'm on at the moment is twin screw, both medium speed diesels whirling round at a constant 500 rpm (or thereabouts). To alter speed/direction a hydraulic pump alters the pitch of the blades to suit your requirements.
Sailing with Foreland Shipping at the mo, a consortium of Bibbys/Andrew Weirs/Houlders/James Fishers, which run 6 ships for the MoD Strategic Sealift people. All interesting stuff carting the army around carrying Container/General and Ro-Ro cargo. London registered ships with all British crews, as due to the nature of the work the posts are 'reserved'. Bit different from a tanker!

Steve,
Now you mention it I do recall the scoop. I think the R class had them (steamers) and also the S class, which although diesels, had two massive boilers for the auxiliaries etc. Bit of an odd set up it has to be said.
 

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John, Interesting bit about "rather than slow the engine down" - was this an aversion particular to BP do you think? I can remember many occasions in my early days as 3rd/2nd Mate in BP where slowing down would have got me out of a sticky situation, but instead ended up making major course alterations for exactly the same reason as you.

Regards,

Paul.
This is almost like being back at sea!
Back in 1972, after an absence of 14 years, I was Third Mate on the British Mallard. One night, on the 12-4, (I was 2nd of 3 watchkeepers) during thick fog in the North Sea, I decided that it would be prudent to slow down in order to avoid a close quarter situation with another vessel that I was watching on the True Motion radar. After a while the 'Old Man' wandered out from the chart Room, and said," we don't do that anymore, it upsets the engineers, you'd be better off making a big alteration in course". Who was I to argue? Bear in mind that the Engine room was on Standby and fully manned. Incidentally, I possessed an OND in Mechanical Engineering, which was more than the 3rd Engineer had! Much to his annoyance.
 

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Indie Boy,

Quote "Incidentally, I possessed an OND in Mechanical Engineering, which was more than the 3rd Engineer had! Much to his annoyance". What were you doing back at sea as a 3rd Mate?

Didn't anyone tell you that Mechanical Engineering is only a very small part of Marine Engineering? Many of the "Professional 3/E's" had no qualifications at all, but by the same token they were Marine Engineers through and through and as an ex. Chief I'm not ashamed to admit that I learned a great deal from them as I progressed through the ranks and after wards. In fact I would have given my right arm if I had been able to employ some of them when I worked offshore.

At the age of 26, I was first trip 2/E on the British Commerce, Marmaduke Walton (he of the cloth cap), aged 52, was 3/E having spent over thirty years at sea, as against my six years. Obviously there was a certain amount of resentment, both from him, the Chief and the Lecky at this upstart!

Over the years the one thing that I have learnt is every man to his own, if one of my Indian/Phillipino/you name it, Fitters came up to me, when we had problems I would always listen to them and if what they said made sense, I would give it a try. Qualifications without hands on experience counts for nothing, which is why this country is in the state it is, because we have too many " Educated Fools" full of theory and no practice!

The point I am making is, do not condemm or mock people because ot their lack of qualifications, because when the chips are down it is hard won experience which counts.

Gerry.
 

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John,
I don't know if it was the same on all the VLCC steamers, but on the P-class, once you were FAOP you changed over from the main condenser circulating pump to what was called "the scoop". This was an inlet on one side of the hull and outlet on the other, and the ship's speed through the water sent cooling water through the condenser without using a pump. If you slowed down with the engine room unmanned, the condenser could overheat , lose vacuum and trip the turbines. Same thing happened if you made a sharp turn. I can recall being roused from my scratcher at dawn by the duty engineer's cabin alarm, to find all hell breaking out below, the mate having had to take severe measures to avoid one of our wandering flag-of-convenience brethren.
Best regards
Steve
Steve,

Ref: avoid one of our wandering flag-of-convenience brethren
I assume you are referring to the brethren sailing under the Red Ensign.
 

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There was a story going around that a recently joined 3/O swung the telegraph at noon as used to be the custom in those long gone days.
This would not normally have been problem, however, the ship he had just joined had bridge control.
The story goes that there were strange noises from the engine room, not sure if this was the engine or the engineers..
How true??
twogrumpy
 

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Bandar Mashar

There was a story going around that a recently joined 3/O swung the telegraph at noon as used to be the custom in those long gone days.
This would not normally have been problem, however, the ship he had just joined had bridge control.
The story goes that there were strange noises from the engine room, not sure if this was the engine or the engineers..
How true??
twogrumpy
talking of swinging the telegraph, has anyone any details of one of the Irano/British River class alongside at Bandar Mashar, I believe someone decided to show a visitor how the bridge telegraph worked, unfortunately it was all hooked up and she surged ahead alongside the jetty ripping the hose off and badly damaging the accom, lifeboats etc etc. I also believe it was during the Iran/Iraq war when there were only Iranians on board; at that time, the brits were taken off mid Gulf and the ships were taken into Iran by all Iranian crews then handed back on the way South.
 
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