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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Houlders OREGIS, 6,858 grt built 1955, av. speed 12.5 knots.
Sister ships were OREDIAN, ORELIA, OREMINA, OREOSA and OREPTON.
In 1974 she was converted to a diving support vessel for North Sea operations and renamed Coupler 1 reverting back to Oregis in 1976.
The conversion entailed the fitting of a heli-pad over the forecastle head capable of landing a Sikorsky S61N.A Moon Pool in place of No 3 hold, and a complete
Saturation Diving Control unit and diving bell in place of No 4.Heavy gear included a
100 ton Liebherr crane amidships, and six anchor winches, 3 forward & 3 aft, each with 1/2 mile of 56mm cable and 10 ton Danforth anchor, being positioned on site by
anchor handling boats.
 

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Ian said:
Houlders OREGIS, 6,858 grt built 1955, av. speed 12.5 knots.
Sister ships were OREDIAN, ORELIA, OREMINA, OREOSA and OREPTON.
In 1974 she was converted to a diving support vessel for North Sea operations and renamed Coupler 1 reverting back to Oregis in 1976.
The conversion entailed the fitting of a heli-pad over the forecastle head capable of landing a Sikorsky S61N.A Moon Pool in place of No 3 hold, and a complete
Saturation Diving Control unit and diving bell in place of No 4.Heavy gear included a
100 ton Liebherr crane amidships, and six anchor winches, 3 forward & 3 aft, each with 1/2 mile of 56mm cable and 10 ton Danforth anchor, being positioned on site by
anchor handling boats.
Thanks for the great description Ian. Whilst watching the operations of research vessels on the National Geographic TV channel I have often wondered how the mother ship stayed in position whilst they had the "mini submarines" cruising around ships like the Titanic.

The anchor winches must have been monsters to control the position of a ship with 1/2 mile of cable 56mm thick...awesome
 

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John Houlder, whose brainchild it was, is 90 years old this year. Lloyds List should (if they co-operate and they say they will) write a nice piece about him shortly.
 

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Rember the oregis after refit sailing down the tyne andengine conking out ended up on the black midden rocks at tyne mouth had laffs though as some of us got of after low tide sitting in the gibralter rock and the newscaster saying felt sorry for us stuck there liddle did they know we were downing complimentry pints . was on board when pulled of and taking to swan hunters for repair can you imagine having leave told you joining new vessel sts coupler 1 only to find it the oregis with name change took her to the ekofist field then change crewafter few weeks paid off lieth mind bloody big winches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
we were sent down every night from smiths docks to put shores under her as they got washed out with the tide,she was towed back to smiths and drydocked damage was nearly full bottom and a snapped skeg.
cheers tom (*))
 

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Always felt very sorry for John Houlder, who having dreamt up the plan to make the conversion of OREGIS from ore-carrier to a state of the art Off-Shore Support Vessel, only to have the doubtful pleasure of seeing his vision suffer with disabled main engine drift on to the Black Midden Rocks and get stuck, whilst he was flying overhead taking photographs of what should have been a happy event.

Tonga
 

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john houlder should of been on board as we were all looking to go to marsielles for fitting diving gear but suppose the black middens on tynemouth wasnt our dream holiday john houlder didnt come to see us though
 

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Salvaged by Statesman

I am correct in saying that the Oregis was salvaged by the tug 'Statesman'
I was working for United Towing at the time and remember something about a deckhand being lost overboard during the salvage ops. I believe a zodiac turned over due to the propellor becoming fouled and a young deckie being lost.
Ray Jordan
 

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corect but the tugs that eventually pulled us off rocks was smit tak the statesman tried time after time but the rocks held fast smit tak used two tugs to do the job.
 

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Memory a bit hazy, spent a wonderful year in the Hardington Hotel , Whitley Bay,with the crew during fit out. Remember Derick Brand c/o, I'll have to delve deep for other names, Capt. Magnus Tullock, deceased, Wesh bosun name?. Actuall ships name on conversion was HTS COUPLIER 1, The first crane fitted was a disaster, a second/hand Stoddart & Pitt, much too slow, top heavy and underpowered, on test it nearly capsized the ship and another shore crane had to be got to lift the test weight as the gears had locked and would not allow the ship to right. One of many similar events of the conversion and fit out.. Old Mr. John used fly up from London with his young engineer for regular meetings, hard to believe he's still alive.
 

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Galtra,

He's still alive and still piloting his own plane! A bit deaf apparently, but eyesight 20/20 ,which is quite useful I believe in terms of flying.

(*))

Kind regards
Tonga
 

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The static crane and pipe handling hydraulic davits were later removed from the port side on Oregis and replaced by a 100 ton capacity Liebherr crane mounted aft of No 2 hatch, and a small stores crane on the stbd side just forward of the accommodation and beside the Comex Dive Control unit
Regards Norsea
 
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John M. Houlder

Tonga said:
Galtra,

He's still alive and still piloting his own plane! A bit deaf apparently, but eyesight 20/20 ,which is quite useful I believe in terms of flying.

(*))

Kind regards
Tonga
His plane is that old it has an outside toilet
Regards Leo
 

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I am indebted to David Burrell’s work wherein he makes the observation that the formation of Ore Carriers Ltd and also the design of the Oregis and her sister ships, was the direct result of a chance meeting at the quayside in Port Talbot, between John Houlder, Julian Spode (British Iron & Steel Corporation) and BISCO’s Director of ore purchasing. The three were watching the discharge of the Star of Egypt, an elderly tween-decker, which was being unloaded at Margham Wharf, where the grabs were doing their usual job of tearing fittings out of this general cargo ship – the result was a discussion as to whether the needs of the Receivers would not be better served by having a specially constructed Ore-Carrier. From this was born a successful series of 9,000 dwt ships that were an amazing success and the fore-runners of today's bulk-carriers.
 

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John Houlder, whose brainchild it was, is 90 years old this year. Lloyds List should (if they co-operate and they say they will) write a nice piece about him shortly.
Just a note to correct a few inaccuracies in this thread, a lot of it is hearsay, I know. JMH was 90 in February 2006, I was lucky to be invited to a party given to him by Houlder Offshore Engineering in the British Chamber of Shipping's building in the Barbican, where a good few former offshore staff were present. He is still flying, he has radar, auto pilot, auto landing equipment in his (old) King Air Aero Commander, he is a bit deaf, not sure about his eyesight, as he seldom looks out of the window when flying, mostly he reads the Times on passage.

The Oregis engine failure was caused by faulty injectors, they had been sent off for overhaul and testing, were refitted, and failed in a south easterly gale.

The six anchor winches were made by Stothert & Pitt, Bath. The first crane was a Butters land crane, totally unsuitable for offshore work. This was situated at the stbd after end of the main deck. The next crane was a Haaglund 20t pedestal crane amidships, this was later replaced with a Liebherr 100t crane capable of reaching the seabed. The Haaglund went to the Uncle John as a stores crane, the Liebherr is now on the CSO Orelia.
 
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