My father joined Nigerian National as a coasting Master, following his retirement from Elder Dempster in 1967. He served on all of the early ships (up to the River Niger class) The Dan Fodio seemed to be jinxed, as whenever she was in port she gained fines for polluting-she ALWAYS had a plume of thick, black oily smoke from her funnel when the port authorities were around. The Cross River was another exciting ship,always having engine problems! I remember she had an engine malfunction just at the wrong time (aren't they always!) putting the ship, with my mother and father on board, onto the rocks on the way up to Grangemouth. Took an Admiralty tug to pull her off, doing minor damage to the ship, but a huge amount of damage to my fathers pride! I think my sister may have some photos of N.N. ships and I'll ask her to dig them out for you.
In reply to bobjones request for photos of early Nigerian National ships I have attached a few here.
As for life on NNL ships I can do no better than to post an extract from a letter I wrote in reply to another query.
Oduduwa was built in 1954 as North Cornwall for the North Shipping Co. of Newcastle and was acqired in 1959 by the newly formed Nigerian National Shipping Line as their first ship.
Under arrangements made with Elder Dempster and Palm Line the vessels obtained by NNSL would be managed and operated by these companies until such time that Nigeria had recruited and/or trained personnel to operate the ships.
Consequently, the Oduduwa was staffed with Elder Dempster personnel and I had the dubious hnour to be appointed 4th Engineer (later promoted to 3rd).
We joined the ship on 11th May 1959 in Redhead's yard in South Shields where she was undergoing repairs. This was quite a culture shock for the refined young gentlemen of Elder Dempster. Although she was not very old, the ship was showing signs of neglect. The main engine was a 4 cylinder North Eastern Marine Doxford along with steam and engine driven auxiliaries. there was a three fire Scotch boiler for cargo work and a Cochrane type auxiliary boiler, the entire plant needing a lot of work.
We set off on our maiden voyage to West Africa via Rotterdam under the command of Captain F. (Sam) Weller, one of the gents of this world. This turned out to be one of the most unusual and entertaining voyages I have ever been on. Being the first ship belonging to a West African nation to visit the region, we were feted and entertained in every port. This began at our first West African port, Freetown where the master was invited ashore by the local dignitaries and eventually returned to the ship a little the worst for wear and dressed in the regalia of an African Chief! It should be understood that we had no prior knowledge of these celebrations which became more and more elaborate as the hitherto unremarkable ex tramp steamer (now a LINER) continued her triumphal progress down the coast, interrupted only by the occasional breakdown. Entry into each port required the ship to be dressed overall; more work for the mate and his men but well worth the effort considering the parties laid on for us. Drinks were provided by the company through their Agent and the Chief Steward was provided with the wherewithal to put on elaborate buffets, known as 'small chop' in African parlance. As these celebrations were usually conducted on the boat deck, the dock workers, crane drivers and anyone who happened to be passing took up their imaginary invitations with alacrity, so the tables were soon cleared. "Like a swarm of locusts." as the Chief Steward gloomily observed.
I think the climax of all this came in Lagos. Oduduwa, we were told was the founding father of the Yoruba people and representatives of their Oduduwa Society came down to the ship and whisked off the officers, all rigged up in caps and No.!0's, in a fleet of limousines to we knew not where. All sat round in a circle on the grass under the stars and each man was provided with a roast chicken and a bottle of scotch. I can't remember what the speeches were about!
Altogether I did six voyages on the Oduduwa which, when the snags were ironed out was not a bad ship. By that time the Nigerian owners were beginning to operate the ships with their own men and I lost track of her after returning to more routine Elder Dempster duties.
Happily, I still meet up with some of the veterans of these voyages at the meetings of the Elder Dempster Pensioners Association
I met a Marconi Radio Officer who sailed on the first all Nigerian manned ship in Nigerian National (in these enlightened times I'd better not mention the coloquial name for the firm, even though no malice was intended by it). Sorry can't recall the name of the ship.
There was a rule then that any RO who sailed on a ship with more than a certain percentage of foreign officers was paid an extra allowance. I don't recall the actual percentage but the allowance was about ten bob a week (that's 50 New Pence to post-decimalisation members). With the manning of the ship being 99% Nigerian - him being the 1% non-Nigerian, he put in a claim for the allowance. Marconi's reply was that Nigeria was a Commonwealth country and it's nationals were not "foreign", therefore no allowance! His time aboard the ship was filled with 'cultural clashes' and he only stayed for one voyage. Maybe they got a Nigerian RO after that.
What a bunch of cheapskates - the best thing that happened to me was becoming persona non grata with the Marconi Company.
I have posted a photo of the MV "Oba Overami" (ex Dutch "Maas Haven") in the cargo ships section.
I did a voyage on her back in 1967. The captain was Philip Latham (age 28)
He went on to be harbour master at Lagos.
Hi i used to repair all NNships when they came to Hull what a job got no help from the crew but when the super came on board things started to move his name was Mr WADDLE POTTS heard man to deal with but fair when settling the account. sam
Two major accidents occured aboard the 'KING JAJA' in 1966/7.
1) a Nigerian Deck apprentice lost an arm.
2) the British Chief Engineer was fatally injured when a main engine driven pump shattered (he was taken ashore and died in hospital)
Does anyone know the details of these accidents and the names of the people involved?
I remember one of the NNL 'River' class ships coming in to Holyhead when I was a teenager. She was on voyage from Liverpool to Lagos and her cargo shifted resulting in a 15 degree list. Think it was the River Ogun (?)
Does any one remember a master in NNL named Bill Boyle. He left a coaster that we were sailing on together in Liverpool and joined the King Jaja as master. This would be in 1961. I often wonder what became of him.
Hi, all ex NNL personnel, I have only just come across this thread.
For your interest, as jr Eng, (and first tripper)I joined the ORANYAN in Amsterdam 20/08/62. The chief was Big John Scott, and I think the 2nd was a guy called Ron Wood, the capt was Ivor Williams. Also sailing as mate was a chap named David Garside. Although, not knowing him at the time, we were to become firm friends quite a number of years later and found we had a mutual friend of one Brian Horrod. Any recolections of these folk!
I think prior to my joining the ORANYAN she had not long had a refit having suffered from fire damage.
My first encounter with this ship was a few months earlier whilst still a Cammell Laird apprentice,(repair yard) a group of us were sent over to Liverpool to extract one of the main engine pistons, of which the ships engineers at the time, managed to get jammed in the liner. During my time on the ORANYAN, changing pistons and liners was almost a daily experience. Oh what memories.
I was an engineer with Nigerline from 1966-68. I was in the Nnamdi Azikiwi, El Kanimi, and the Oranyan. The trip in the Oranyan was a nightmare trip and my last trip to sea. I flew out to join her in Dakar, Senegal replacing the 3rd engineer. The company told me he had missed the ship at Dunkirk, he actually refused to sail in her and tried to stop her sailing as he thought she was unsafe. He was right, all the oil pressure cut outs on the generaters were gagged, as they were running at 5-6psi. the air conditioning wasn`t working as well as many other problems. When we arrived in Lagos the Nigerian civil war was on and we were conscripted into the Nigerian army. We appealed to the British Consulate to try to get off the ship but as we were on Nigerian articles they did not want know. We took part in two invasions in Biafra. We eventually got home and I left the ship at Immingham never to go to sea again. I am sure but for that trip I would have stayed at sea for much longer. Regards Roy,
I was also on the oranyan then, electrician. What rank were you.
Its so long ago, I paid off in UK after an argument with the 4th eng. Also involved was the 3rd engineer. All went to hospital.
".........and found we had a mutual friend of one Brian Horrod. Any recolections of these folk!"
Nothing to do with Nigerian National, but I worked with Brian Horrod for many years in connection with North Sea projects, rig moves etc. Over a year since I last saw him but he was in good fettle then; dividing the year between Cruden Bay and his boat on the French canals.
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