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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In July 1960 I remember seeing the British Crown at Smiths Docks, North Shields. She was dry docked for a survey following a collision in the Persian Gulf earlier that year, I believe. In my journal, I described the damage as "a big vertical rip in her starboard side just for'ard of the centrecastle plus a big dent & the bulwarks on the engineers' accommodation deck had been crushed like paper." Looks as though the Crown may have been at fault.
Does anyone know anything about this collision?
Six years later, the Crown exploded at Umm Said with the loss of 19 lives whilst loading a cargo of crude for Kwinana & was declared a CTL.

John Firmin
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
British Crown & Baltistan

Ray,
Many thanks for that - very interesting. Shame we didn't hear the other side of the story.
Kind regards,
John Firmin.
 

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John_F said:
In July 1960 I remember seeing the British Crown at Smiths Docks, North Shields. She was dry docked for a survey following a collision in the Persian Gulf earlier that year, I believe. In my journal, I described the damage as "a big vertical rip in her starboard side just for'ard of the centrecastle plus a big dent & the bulwarks on the engineers' accommodation deck had been crushed like paper." Looks as though the Crown may have been at fault.
Does anyone know anything about this collision?
Six years later, the Crown exploded at Umm Said with the loss of 19 lives whilst loading a cargo of crude for Kwinana & was declared a CTL.

John Firmin
John,
I have a write up of that incident somewhere, I had it given to me when researching the Crown disaster, I'll try and dig it out.
Graham
 

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British Crown
Met a guy in hospital about 10 days ago, both of us in for overnight fixits.
He was an engineer, I think 2nd at the time or he rose to 2nd, he was quite a character.
His name was John Mawer also known as Limmpet, don't know if he could go off like one but he could be as loud as one.
He did not mention either of the above incidents and had been on there 8 years then had 2 years on Shaw Savill & Albion's Southern Cross as he had noticed the social activities were a bit more promising than on a tanker.
Does anyone remember him?
Cheers
Ted
 

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ss British crown

Hello, it seems she must have been a troubled ship in,1956 whilst making my 1st sea trip as the lowest of the low( Galley Boy) we suffered a lot of trouble with collapsed boiler bricks ? we spent 2 weeks in Durban for repairs and returned a few days later .As Suez was ongoing running around the cape we ran out of a lot of supplies and came close to running out of essentials. regards Al Judge.
 

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Hello all,
I was on the Br. Adventure, 24.10.68- 28,3.69.
One of the Stewards was on the Crown, his previous ship, when she blew up Umm Said, Gabriel D'Souza. He would never talk about the Crown, a very quiet nice person, the other stewards said he changed after the Crown explosion.
I passed her quite a few times, around that time. Sad to see her sitting, resting on the sea bed.
Regards Rob.
 

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i was on the british crown in 1956 did one trip to mina al amadi to isle of grain but dont remember any names i was going off tankersat the time.albert s.i
 

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Would any one like to read the story of my first trip to sea from what I can remember in the British Crown anyone interesd I will post it. From nov 56 to may 57..wilf
 

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I might need help to clarify some of the details
MY FIRST TRIP TO SEA

I attended Tilbury pool very soon after leaving Gravesend Sea School and they took us by minibus down to the Isle of Grain and the British Crown where we all arrived after dark. There were three catering boys destined for the ship and both the others had been at sea before so they knew the ropes and as we were lined up they stepped forward for the pantry boy positions. Leaving me to get the wonderful galley boy vacancy. The cook was Mr Jones a Welsh chef and the 2nd cook/baker was a Geordie. I can’t remember how long settling in took but I can certainly remember the job seemed very hard to me. (Please do not misunderstand, as I had been used to hard work from an early age having various jobs before leaving school). I would spend each morning washing up the breakfast and lunch pans, fetching up stores and being left outside the galley using most of the afternoon to peel loads of spuds. In the meantime most catering staff were sleeping at their afternoon break until dinner at about 6pm. I was never able despite my best intentions to get all the work done much before everybody else returned from rest
We proceeded southwards around the cape to the Persian Gulf, as it was the time of Suez. The first port of call was Santa Cruz de Tenerife where we filled up with ships stores lots of fruit and vegetables etc. As it was my first time ever outside England some of us went out into the town. I remember one long main street with lots of bars (my first introduction to the real world). Val(my wife) and I visited it a couple of years ago, and how it had changed from my memory. In total it must have taken in total about 2 weeks to Mina –Al-Amadi Kuwait in the Persian Gulf. On arrival we were quite a distance from the shore along a wooden jetty. It seems we were not allowed any further than a mess hall located on the jetty .We were told the Sheikh did not allow crews ashore from visiting ships, we had free soft drinks and snacks provided. We were able to meet other crews and saw the beauty of the insides of Norwegian and Swedish tankers and the other extreme, a Hain ship I believe the "Trelawny"? Built about1928. We were there about a day and also some time was spent fishing, as the weather was superb.

After loading with crude oil we left via the cape to return for (Lands End for orders). A short while along the coast we had severe engine trouble spending some time drifting. Providing an opportunity for shark fishing so we got some meat hooks out of the refrigerator and loaded them up, but it was very difficult to get the big fishes over the rail, bending a few hooks in the process. It then appeared that we would need major repairs (a boiler brick collapse?) so made our way to Durban being berthed on the Bluff, and after a short time we were moved into the docks nearer the Town Centre.

Armed Guards were mounted around the clock as the local newspapers proclaimed that the British Crown had been the largest loaded Tanker to ever have berthed in Durban. It seems they may have already had a previous tanker explosion. We were there about 2 weeks and it was a wonderful experience for a young man new to the world, swimming and learning in the bars in the evening the (Cosmopolitan and Vasco da Gama) the main ones, and meeting crews from the Union Castle liners. I remember that a quite a few of the older crew misbehaved whilst in Durban and probably resulted in all of us including the innocent not being required for the next trip (one chap being found asleep in a state of undress every morning at the bottom of the gangplank). After departure the engine trouble continued for a short time but we were then on our way, many small difficulties had ensued, as we were unable to use the canvas swimming pool, which was certainly needed in the hot weather. It was suggested that the Bosun did not want the deck ruined, plus for a period of the return trip we found ourselves very low on some main provisions. We called in again at Santa Cruz de Tenerife as outward bound and renewed our acquaintances in the local bars. Some times at sea we enjoyed a film show on the open deck one I especially call to mind was (A Day to Remember) about some WW2 veterans returning to France for a reunion, I and others I expect fell in love with ODILE VERSOIS the leading lady.

As we neared the UK we found to our bad luck that we would be going to Rotterdam to discharge and found ourselves at Pernis. Of course this meant we not back in the UK so we would be off again to the gulf. I remember some of us went together across the ferry to Vlaardingen to visit the Missions to Seamen in the thick freezing snow we were made most welcome as always, I bought my mum one of those sailing ship table lamps made from a clog.
The whole trip lasted about six months and the return to the gulf was as I remember a reasonably uneventful reprise of the previous one but this time we did get back to Grain. Paid off saying goodbye to the board of trade acquaintances I had made, now 60 years later I remember most especially. Jack Wright of Chatham, Yorkie the ex Vindi pantry boy from Wheatley Doncaster and Maurice Dice (moby dice) who played a mean guitar and entertained us with Hank William’s songs, Fred Flood the Fearless fireman from Pompey. And of course, Captain Cole
. Alan Judge ex NSTS Gravesend
22.10.56/30.11.56
 

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I went to Umm Said a number of times in the early 80's, and the wreck of the Crown was still there, very visible on the shoreline. A sobering sight indeed.
 

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My eldest brother Graham Edwin May the Second Officer was killed on this ship when it exploded on 20 August 1966. If any interested person would like to contact me, please do so by Private Message.
I would be very interested in hearing from any person with an interest in this sad accident even although it happened long ago.
 

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My eldest brother Graham Edwin May the Second Officer was killed on this ship when it exploded on 20 August 1966. If any interested person would like to contact me, please do so by Private Message.
I would be very interested in hearing from any person with an interest in this sad accident even although it happened long ago.
Hi Martyn,

I have been reasearching this incident for many years, I will send you a SN email. There are more threads on the British Crown in this SN BP section
Graham Wallace
 

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2nd mate May

My eldest brother Graham Edwin May the Second Officer was killed on this ship when it exploded on 20 August 1966. If any interested person would like to contact me, please do so by Private Message.
I would be very interested in hearing from any person with an interest in this sad accident even although it happened long ago.
I think I recall a 2nd mate with the name of May. was he on the Kestrel about 1964, I x'fered to Kestrel as temp 2nd and the 2nd mate went on the 4-8 as C/O. the real C/O got injured off the ship in Albany Australia. We often talked when he relieved me on the 12-4. His name was May I think but I could be wrong.

my ships on my profile, patriot, oak, merchant, patrol, seafarer judge robin and kestrel, left then to join Houlder Bros. On the Patrol in1962 there might have been a 2nd mate named May, I have a photo of him in my patrol pictures on my photo albums here on ShipsNostalgia.

the crown was tragic, I always imagined the deck watch handover and some cadet smoking outside or in the cargo watch doorway, I know we often did that, with a heavy leak of gas it could cause an explosion but then again the guys would smell a big leak you would think.

regards Mike Friend Raleigh NC USA
 

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Mike. It was 1963 and I was a first trip Nav/App[joined the Kestrel in'62 at Hamble] when Graham was 2nd Mate. I think the Mate was PD Marshall who badly injured his leg falling from the flying bridge steps. Graham was a really nice guy who had a lot of time and patience with us Apps.
Joe
 

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Thank you Lanzabry, it is very nice to hear compliments about my late brother.
I am very happy that you have a good opinion of him.
Thank you.
Martyn May
 

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Umm Said, November 1966

I was on the British Courage as a 17 year old navigating cadet and went to Umm Said in November 1966. I remember the sun coming up after our early morning arrival and the black shell of the Crown was a stark contrast to the only other colours in sight, the yellow sands, and the blue sea and sky.
 
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