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I signed on the Southern Cross several days prior to departure on Friday 13th November 1970 (not a good omen).

The voyage was out to Oz via the Panama Canal, then 3 cruises out of Sydney and return to the UK in March 1971.

Being young and naive, I discounted tales that you didn't so much 'sign on' as 'weigh in' on the 'Suffering Cross'.

However the cracks began to appear on sailing day when most of the 'Belfast contingent' of the deck department were in various states of intoxication, thus causing extra work for the rest of us.

Things went from bad to worse during the Atlantic crossing, I was so relieved to plant my feet on terra firma upon arrival at Trinidad.

I stuck the trip out, though not sure how. During the trip there where 3 deaths, a crew member 'disapeared' one night, a passenger died of a heart attack, and there was one other death of which I dont know the cir***stances.

I was attacked myself whilst sleeping, the attacker was unaware of the attack the next day due to being on various 'substances'.

During a visit to Suva (on one of the cruises), the catering staff walked off the ship. The band played on for sometime until the Ozzie passengers were no longer waving, the band eventually packed up and went home, as did the stevadores, I never did find out out why they walked off.

During 30 years service at sea I never witnessed anything like the level of violence and drunkeness on that ship, I still have the odd nightmare of this experience.

Having survived the 'ship from hell', I signed up for a correspondence course for 2nd Mates ticket.

Captain Wheatley was the Master on this voyage, a really nice man. What he did to deserve the Cross I really dont know, I hope things were better in his latter career.

When I saw pictures of the ship being scrapped, I had a glass of wine - quite an occasion as I am teetotal!

I'm sure someone somewhere must have a happier experience of the Suffering Cross, but it wasn't me!
 

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-----an interesting thread for me. If any one merchant ship was responsible for getting me away to sea it was this ship--- only because she was the only vessel to register deep in my psyche during a harbour pleasure trip of Southampton Water in late July/early Aug 1965 whilst I was an 11year old on holiday. So why, seven years later, did I end up in ore carriers/tramps/tankers?-- but on reflection after reading your entry, perhaps a wise choice after all. I continued to remember, and look out for, that ship ever afterwards-- you've indflicted a deep psychological injury on me now!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
-- you've indflicted a deep psychological injury on me now!!!!!
My sincerest apologies John! I suppose we all had certain inspirations to set us off on our sea going careers, my inspiration was the film 'The Cruel Sea' (maybe it's me that needs help!).

However, my Father served with Union Castle, my Grandfather served most of his sea going career with the White Star Line and my great Grandfather was also a Mariner, so it was probably 'in the genes'.

My son incidentaly, has no interest in the sea at all (EEK)
 

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I'm sorry to hear of such a bad experience while in SOUTHERN CROSS, I'm sure many old SX hands will be sharpening their pens in her defence! you cant blame the ship - its the Officers and crew which make a well run ship!!

Incidently I sailed with capt Wheatley in MEGANTIC , he was a popular master and ran a happy efficient ship.

rgds John B.
 

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An electrician came to work at a place where I was serving my time and he filled my head full of magic re his time on the Southern Cross. I could hardly wait to Join Shaw Savill,in the hope that I may sail on her, never did though because at my first meeting with the Engineer Super he remarked that I had Motor Man written all over me, funny I thought I had given my self a real good wash that mornig ! -)
 

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R 893891 Southern Cross not only ship with crew troubles. My family came out on New Australia, yes S.S.L, in the fifties to Oz and crew were regarded by some as the s*** of Southampton. Fights with passengers, fights ashore with police, crew drunk most ports!. My father had to have a police escort off the ship in Sydney as stewards said they were going to get him.( Didnt though.) Must dig out some pics. Then there was the Ocean Maniac, i mean Monarch in the early 70's...was it only SSL passie ships with crew trouble or did P&O or others have crew probs?
 

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Hi R893891, I can relate to your feelings on the "Suffering Cross!" I joined her begining of '63. The trip could be described as 'interesting'. I was about to get married and thought I could make a few bob on a longer trip. Wrong !!! I wont elaborate but I was escorted down the gangplank at 06.00hrs docking morning by a M/A. I was smothered in blood none of which was mine. I paid off Board of Trade 3 days later with the grand sum of £36. I do promise you that being marched off was not my fault and my boss said he would give me a good ref. if I wanted to sign on again. And I got a V.G!!
 

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I did 3 trips on her from 68 to 69. Yes we had the usual problems when you have a crew of around 450 - but at that time anyway she was quite a "happy" trip with many of the crew with many years "time served" on board in all ranks and ratings.

Of course at that time we were still on the strict round the world line voyages - but things may well have changed when she moved to cruising and you could no longer set your clock for the return to Southampton.

Captain Willie Newport was the master at that time. A real gentleman - although very short - needed a box to see over the bridge dodger - but he ran a tight and happy ship.
 

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The term 'Belfast Contingent' hurts a bit, though facing reality I have heard the term before so some truth must be attached to it.
There might have been a danger of me becoming part of it but fortunately something else caught my interest and I got out of the possibility shortly after getting out of my teens
I still have a healthy respect for my short period in the Merchant Navy and the many people I came in contact with and do not believe that any of the 'contingent' types would be interested enough to be looking in on or commenting on SN
Cheers
Ted
 

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Came into contact recently with a chap who had been an Engineer on Southern Cross many years ago, he was surprised she had lasted so long and was only scrapped in recent years as Ocean Breeze.
His name is John Mawer also known as Limmpet a nick name he picked up on BP Tankers.
John would like to know if anyone can supply him with the Name and Address of the Company which demolished Ocean Breeze/Southern Cross at Chittagong as he is interested in trying to obtain some pieces of memorabilia from her.
Possibly only a long shot or it might be like coal from Titanic.
Cheers
Ted
 

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Aleddy
This search may prove difficult because as I am sure you are aware shipbreaking in India/Bangladesh is a thoroughly seedy affair much reviled by environmentalists and human rights campaigners. Consequently I would think that the shipbreakers would be hard to communicate with, without the right contacts. The Shaw Savill Society might be able to help. Brandane is a SN member and has details of the NZ Shaw Savill Society. There is an SS Society in the UK. She was owned by Imperial Majesty Cruise Line of Florida in her final years -maybe they could help:-

http://www.imperialmajesty.com/index.htm
 

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I did 3 trips on her from 68 to 69. Yes we had the usual problems when you have a crew of around 450 - but at that time anyway she was quite a "happy" trip with many of the crew with many years "time served" on board in all ranks and ratings.

Of course at that time we were still on the strict round the world line voyages - but things may well have changed when she moved to cruising and you could no longer set your clock for the return to Southampton.

Captain Willie Newport was the master at that time. A real gentleman - although very short - needed a box to see over the bridge dodger - but he ran a tight and happy ship.
Captain Willie Newport was the captain on the Waipawa when I sailed on her. He must have have earned his command of the Southern Cross after this trip although if my memory is right he had commanded her for some time. I found him to be a real nice guy and yes he was a shortish fella.
 

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The Cross

Tales I heard 1959-62 included a claim that she once sailed from Oz with over 1000 female passengers under 25. I was told that with seven passenger decks , there was an unwritten rule about which deck deck officers and cadets socialised, so that they did not encounter each other in difficult situations. This is only gossip that I picked up on Athenic so may not be true. Very different situation there with only 70-80 passngers all middle aged or older. There were occasions when ladies got the worse for cheap gin and we always pointed out that Captaion Heywood would not allow cadets to visit passenger cabins. We were not allowed to drink either but kind stewards would top up our cokes with rum
 

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Paul W,
Thanks for that info, will pass it all on to John.
Soon as he mentioned it to me I was unable to see much of a climmer of light at the end of that particular tunnel.
Dave B,
I did some time on P&O's Iberia end of 63 and 64 and there was never any problems, perhaps the presence of the Goanesse greatly weakened the ranks of us troublesome Whites, come to think of it , until about that time Orient Line was all White and there didn't appear to be such troubles on those ships.
Cheers
Ted
 

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Here (hopefully) is a photo of myself meeting Capt Willie Newport on Southern Cross in March 1970 en route Sydney-Brisbane.
Mention has been made of the good Captain's shortish stature. My height is 1.83m (about 6ft) as a comparison.
Others I remember from that cruise were Chief Electrician John Dover and a Purser Don Waddell. John Dover became quite a family friend and we used to see him occasionally on Icenic in later years.

Cheers, Don
 

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I am pretty sure I sailed with John Dover on Icenic in 1972. Unfortunately I only kept a record of Deck Officers though.
 

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During my time with Union-Castle, there were very few incidents amongst the crew, that ended up in the log, and I believe none involving passengers. I always thought that the Masters-at-Arms had an easy time of it on our ships, as the crews were pretty easy going, even in the Pig and Whistle. I did serve one crew Christmas dinner on Edinburgh Castle and a great and fun time was had by all, but no-one took any liberties or got drunk. Most times, I was in the P&W for cash advances, and those were orderly and no trouble. If stewards did get mad, I heard they might lose some of the silver overboard, but nothing physical.
 

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Greetings Paul
John Dover was indeed on your Icenic trip, he was quite a memorable chap, came from a family of bishops if I remember correctly, he was very well spoken and behaved like a perfect gentleman!! Was very lucky with the gee-gees during my time on the Icenic, with many senior officers benefitting by being in his syndicate.
Regards
Jim H
 

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Holmsey
Yes of course I remember him now, and can nearly picture him. Not too bad after 35 years!!
 
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