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The steel industry slump, as I understand it, is the reason a lot of iron ore ships (such as Cory Maritime's Garth ships) were laid up. I'd like to know more about the causes of that slump and how long it lasted.

I believe it may have originated with steelmakers in the U.S. and some action President Kennedy took? Hard to find details online about this and would appreciate any pointers or info.

All this for the novel I'm writing (for 12 year olds) set on the Queensgarth in 1962 -- based on the summer I spent aboard her that year, age 10, when she was laid up near King Harry Ferry - Carrick Roads area of the river Fal, and my dad was captain.

Thanks for any clues!
Jackie Pascoe
 

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Kennedy had some hand in it and largely managed to get things back on even keel but I don't remember the precise details as I wasn't in the 'seat of power' in those days but an agency clerk on the Tees,working three days a week because of lack of ships ( we had two laid up in the new dock being built).

This may shed some UK light on situation? There was a book written some time later which went into detail of economics but who/what/where I have no idea.

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1962/jul/27/iron-and-steel-board-report

geoff
 

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The steel industry slump, as I understand it, is the reason a lot of iron ore ships (such as Cory Maritime's Garth ships) were laid up. I'd like to know more about the causes of that slump and how long it lasted.

I believe it may have originated with steelmakers in the U.S. and some action President Kennedy took? Hard to find details online about this and would appreciate any pointers or info.

All this for the novel I'm writing (for 12 year olds) set on the Queensgarth in 1962 -- based on the summer I spent aboard her that year, age 10, when she was laid up near King Harry Ferry - Carrick Roads area of the river Fal, and my dad was captain.

Thanks for any clues!
Jackie Pascoe
i was on the M/VRibblehead at the same time
 

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We had the Iron Ore at Harwich and the Daghestan in The Blackwater. I too would be curious as to why. I must admit I had forgotten all about that time but it would surely have been a period of economic growth.
 

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Using very old memories from my Steel Industry days the figure of 24 vessels laid-up out of fleet,then of 72, others going lowest economic speed was common.

We had Lindisfarne and I think Silversand or crag in Lackenby Dock.

geoff
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hansard: steel and shipping in early sixties

Thanks, Geoff - that link and following up on it opened quite a lot of avenues to info about this time period.

I'm still not quite sure why the UK steel (and coal) industry problems happened (1961 or earlier), causing the iron ore ships to be laid up.

But anyway I learned that it wasn't directly connected to Kennedy calling out the steel barons in the US for raising prices 6% (April 1962) - or the run-up to that. But him doing that might, as you say, have helped the situation to resolve in a way that did affect the U.K.

An interesting factor seems to be that Kennedy was personally affronted at the way the steel industry leaders had <bad word> him and was out to get personal revenge on the leadership.

Below link is very long but can be used I hope -- the page you land on is interesting.

https://books.google.com/books?id=N...resident Kennedy and the steel barons&f=false

In the Hansard transcript, I enjoyed the flavor of voices and politics of that day and age in the UK parliament. Quite the contrast to today, here in the U.S.!

Thanks again...
Jackie

Kennedy had some hand in it and largely managed to get things back on even keel ....

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1962/jul/27/iron-and-steel-board-report

geoff
 

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The German and Dutch steelmakers did have similar problems but on lay-up of their vessels I know nothing.

geoff
 

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My recollection is that the price of steel (when burdened by wages and other overheads) became uncompetitive with other countries (in Asia I think) that could produce steel much more cheaply. Once the source of industrial steel moved to those Asian countries so did the heavy industry dependent on it, such as shipbuilding.
 

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It may have something to do with the 'Nairobi Agreement' where-in the "Developed" countries agreed that they would curtail production of steel and other products in order for the "Developing" countries to enter the International Markets. It was also agreed at the same time that these developing countries should be assisted in starting their own merchant navies and that the developed countries should not scrap their ships but sell them to the developing countries at scrap prices plus 5%. This latter part of the agreement started the demise of the British Merchant Navy, as we had at the time the largest merchant fleet, the Germans, Dutch, French and a couple of others had at the time not that much tonnage, so the UK fleet was the most affected, the USA had virtually little tonnage on international trade as their fleet was fulfilling the 'Jones Act' requirements on the US Coast. I believe the Japanese fleet was exempt, still being considered a developing country. These wise people never saw the writing on the wall.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, Seaman38! I'll look into that angle. Also Brucekn's comment is valid I'm sure also - general shift of steel production etc to Asian countries.

BTW - I'm not sure about the USA having little tonnage at that time (which you mention). I'm just basing this on John McPhee's excellent book, Looking for a Ship, in the 80s I think (book published 1991). He was a paying passenger (and hard working observer) of life on a US merchant ship, and in general surveyed the decline of their merchant marine, but I think at a later time than you are referring to. Really worth a read - I'd be curious what folks think of that book.
 

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We are talking 1961 - 62 here. What is this Nairobi agreement and what did it entail as regards shipping? It sounds as if it ought to be important but I have not heard of it.
 

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Iron Ore

Thanks for the memory. I joined my first ship Iron Ore as cadet with Common Bros. in Glasgow, October 1961 having just left school at 15. We did one trip to Freetown in West Africa, discharged in Rotterdam and then laid up in Harwich with anchors bow and stern, not a good start to my career. I stayed on board for another month doing maintenance and trips ashore in the lifeboat to buy milk and newspapers every morning. Hard to believe it is 58 years ago.
I have never researched the reason for lay ups, just assumed it was a world wide slump in steel making and overcapacity of tonnage.
It all worked out though, after that I thoroughly enjoyed my cadetship serving on a variety of tankers and general cargo vessels with Commons up to C/O before leaving to go piloting. Sorry no info for your book Jackie but good luck with it.
 

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We are talking 1961 - 62 here. What is this Nairobi agreement and what did it entail as regards shipping? It sounds as if it ought to be important but I have not heard of it.
As far as I can recall' it was during Harold Wilsons tenure as PM, but I'm sure that our Wikipedia experts will assist.
 

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Thanks SM - I did wonder if it was later than that. In 61 we were never having it so good with the other Harold - Macmillan.
 

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There was further drama in the steel industry twenty years later. In March 1980 at Shotton on Deeside, 6,500 people were made redundant in a single day with the closure of the steelworks.

Iron ore for the steel works had been imported into Birkenhead for decades. It was discharged at Bidston Dock from most of the ships mentioned in this thread and then transported by rail some fifteen miles diagonally across Wirral to Shotton. Hard times indeed.

It was a major step in the decline of Birkenhead docks.
 

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The reason was more basic, the huge post war building boom was petering out by 1960 so also the demand for steel, the demand rose again by the mid 60's as the Vietnam war expanded. There was some weird trading those times, we brought a cargo of pig Iron from Rotterdam in '66 to Toledo, Ohio (Jeep plant) which originated in Russia and was sold a few times to change country of origin - as they were enemies and embargoed.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm getting a really good sense of the times from everyone's responses - post war boom ending; asian steel industries building up; ship building starting to decline in UK; US steel situation which Kennedy intervened in. Regarding "Nairobi agreement" I can only find dates for 1985 and 1999 (per Wikipedia, closest I got: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nairobi_Agreement). Thanks for the reminiscences too - I enjoyed that.
 

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Capkelly...indeed strange times,we exported a cargo of rod in coil from Liverpool,ex Manchester Steel,to South Africa,via Mozambique.
Two years later I was on the quay in Cardiff watching import steel landing,same cargo. ...still with our labels on and same Bill of leading weight!

Geoff
 
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