Any of you Matco boys remember this ship? “Avon” –Ex “Matco Avon”, scrapped in
1993?? I am, told she was shuttle tanker in the NS too.
I received a call from an agency looking for a steam 4th and asking me if Id like to do a 6 week "run job" down to the breakers yard in India or Bangladesh .
Thought , yep why not, never done this before, sounds interesting.....
What a nightmare this little adventure turned out to be.
Joined her in Daka in West Africa. She was aongside in total darkness.
She was supposed to be on shore power, but the generator on the quay had packed up, and there was nobody around looking at it.
Eventually gets onboard and lighting restored. Chief Engineer had gone ashore -in a body bag no less! x2 3rd's had been sacked for being piss heads. The 2nd Eng was also replaced -cant remember the reason why though. No power, No AC ( and it was stinking hot by the way) Srbd boiler had been dry fired and was subsequenty condemned. Port boiler was leaking like a sieve!
Spent a couple of weeks effecting repairs. All this time no AC, as the AC plant was steam driven!
Eventually we got underway.
Boiler was continually leaking, and the evaporators which you guys will know "make" the fresh water for the boilers were less than useless.. Oh Dear what had I done I asked myself…
The vessel still had a couple of ( I think) Indonesian fitters onboard. These guys were terrified after what had been going on “ down below” prior to when I joined her.
Anyway, we all knew that this vessel was never going to make India or Bangladesh under her own steam –which is what the owner seemingly wanted. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t hire on a couple of Mobil engineers for the run, guys who had sailed on her and who were obviously familiar with her. Seemingly this ship was a runner when she left the NS and was active on shuttle run duties right up to when she was sold? Also I was told she ran aground in Southampton before she left the UK for the start of her final journey anyone confirm this?
Shame really as one could see she had been looked after, shame the agency hired on a bunch of “misfits” in the hope of getting her to her final destination.
Anyway, as we are making our way ( slowly), we were continually losing water from leaks in the Port boiler. Things were getting worse day by day, as like I mentioned before, the evaporators were shot and their water output was greater than the boilers appetite for water.
One day, the second said to me, that the fires will go out at 0900 hrs tomorrow morning and sure enough it happened . We had ran out of water!
For a week we then drifted around, whilst the owners decided what they wanted us to do. There was an ocean going salvage tug sniffing around us , they must have heard our radio traffic. She was after taking us in tow and ultimately claiming salvage! (Big SMIT vessel) Anyway, we were not under any cir***stances to take a tow from her!
I along with a few other guys left the vessel whilst she was drifting off Walvis Bay. The owner had sent a boat out for us. We flew home back to the UK.
I think the Avon was eventually towed to the breakers yard after all –Gadani Beach.
Forgot to mention, one morning –around 0100hrs, we were all awakened by this horrendous noise.. Sounded like a steam line had parted. I got up and went into the alley way, were I saw two of the ships engineers popping out of the engine room like two polaris missiles! Turned out that the whole of the C02 engine /boiler room fire smothering system had discharged! How??? Nobody knew. The room containing all the C02 bottles was locked.. Still a mystery as to how it went off/was set off to this day!
Not a very enjoyable trip and certainly one I will never forget.
Brilliant but not unexpected account from Marinemec. It really was an unlucky ship. I spent two dreadful years on her as second mate with a dipsomaniac old man and a brown nosing bully of a mate. I'm sure anyone who was there at the same time (you were David) will know who I'm talking about. Two years of my life and a ship best forgotten!!