Michael: GRUA was Shaw Savill's "Mayfield", one of their first forays into faster turn-around, part containerisation vessels. She had been a Scandinavian registered vessel before that, I believe, though can't remember the previous name.
I use the c/s as it always reminds me of a particularly innovative and interesting time for me as an R/O. 1977, (in addition to being infamous for Elvis' death) was a good year for new equipment, at least as far as I was concerned. Talking to the London office using the realtime ARQ telex setup at long range with Portishead was so rewarding. Having the Old Man and Chief Engineer sitting there, me translating their queries and comments onto the keyboard of the teleprinter and seeing an immediate response was really rewarding. Such a difference from the old days of carefully worded telegrams and often flakey R/T calls at long range. I had just completed several consecutive and long trips on some of SS&A's older ships and was desperate to stay with the company, although still working for Marconi of course. The men at East Ham Depot were understanding enough to accommodate that, and in order to efficiently man a ship with the Spector telex/Commandant TX, sent me off to do the respective courses before going out to join "Mayfield", which was on the West Indies/Southern U.S./NZ run.
What more could I have asked for? One of the best runs at the time, certainly for me, and I was so pleased to get away from the Oceanspan setup at long last, to get behind some decidedly serious equipment for a change. Others were attracted to the new Marconi gear as well. I had a series of visits in Houston from some guys who were serious enthusiasts, and who came down to the ship with the purpose of having a really good look over the gear, going away with lots of talk about buying a Commandant/Apollo for their very sophisticated-sounding set-up, complete with its 'antenna farm', as they termed it. They were really into it, to the extent of asking me to set up an unofficial 'sked' with them while we were west-bound out of Panama, so that they could gauge the effective range achievable, etc. The Commandant didn't let me down. Nothing wrong with your namesake, of course, just felt the need to 'spread the wings' a little, see how the new technologies were shaping up. As a result of all this, the ship and its c/s became a big part of my sea-going memories, hence the tag.
I made up a wooden plaque, some time ago, with the painted c/s 'GRUA' attached, to accompany my genuine radio room clock, mounted above the Atalanta in my back room. Although I say so myself, it does look the business, as they say, and is a constant and stirring reminder of those halcyon days when I cavalierly roamed the seas and oceans. All I might need now is the wooden plaque: 'RADIO ROOM', on the door! Only partly joking, such is the severity of chronic reminiscing...
I'll attach a photo of the setup sometime, if I get round to it, complete with the Marconi 365B morse key, and the 2015 edition of ALRS Vol 1, which was gifted to me at the same time as the key and clock by a good friend, ex NZS and Aussie Coast R/O.
All I want now is an Apollo RX, but that's probably not going to happen, as they're rare as hens'. The transition from the old Oceanspan/Atalanta days to the more modern equipment was something else, I can tell you. I've probably said it before on here, but I only wish I had kept my very carefully annotated Mimco manuals for them all, (works of art in their own right), as the training courses we attended at various places around the UK were very well structured indeed, and gave you a hell of a lot of confidence that you could find your way around the equipment before finding yourself at sea with it.
I think they were a bit underrated sometimes, that structuring in of all those various Mimco courses. For me, they were a much looked-forward to and enjoyable experience. I'm a staunch, signed-up champion for Marconi Marine, as you can tell! Even when they sent me on the odd 'bum' trip, like taking a dredger over the North Sea, or a converted Hull trawler doing pipeline surveys with side-scan sonar, etc, ignoring my perfectly reasonable request to be allowed to stay at home and watch the 1978 World Cup... It was all good for the soul, overall 'character building', you might say, the 'University of Life'.
Nice talking with you, as always. Keep up the good work. Never yet met a ceramic type valve. Sounds interesting.