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Hi, I am an author writing a novel with a young man voyaging on a cargo freighter. He embarks in June, 1966, on a vessel that's about a decade away from being sold for scrap. Old and seaworn.

I'm ideally looking for a real vessel that I can model my fictional one from, so that I will have accurate details about its construction, its engine(s), the route it might have taken (it needs to go through the Panama canal on a voyage to Asia).

If anyone has suggestions, ideally to a vessel that has photos, that would be very helpful. Fingers crossed and thanks in advance for any help.
 

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Sorry I can't suggest a ship. Maybe you have chosen a difficult era and a difficult route. I think that most cargo ships going from Europe to Asia went and still go via Suez or the Cape and NOT via Panama.....which route is longer and
passes fewer centres of population where business may be found. If you were to set the story a decade earlier, in the 1950s, before container ships became dominant, you might well find a tramp steamer wandering along that roundabout way to Asia. MessageriesMaritimes, the French equivalent of P&O, had a line from Maresilles to Australia via Algiers, Maderia, the French and Dutch West Indies, Panama, the Marquesas, Tahiti, the New Hebridies and New Caledonia and they ran both cargo ships and cargo-passenger ships on that route. Sometimes their ships returned to Marseilles via French Indochina (Saigon and Haiphong), Singapore, Colombo and Suez, sometimes even detouring to Reunion and Madagscar. This all ended when France left Indochina in the late 1950s and when MM withdrew from Asia in the 1960s. There is a great site at www.messageries-maritimes.org with lots of details and photos of 150 years of MM ships and personnel. You might get some ideas from it.
 

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Motor Vessel Shaftesbury

In late 1965 until May 1966 I was a Navigating Apprentice on Houlder Brothers MV Shaftesbury. She was a general cargo vessel that lifted about 9,000 tons when fully loaded. I rejoined the vessel in Holland where we loaded general cargo for the West Indies and Central American ports. On completion, loaded phosphate in Tampa for Japanese ports via the Panama Canal. General cargo back to East Coast USA ports via Panama. Grain from Galveston to India before loading sugar in Bombay for Liverpool, UK. There should be lots of info and pictures on this vessel if Googled. There are also pictures in my Gallery if you can access it.

Cheers
 

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What about MV Port Melbourne, built 1956 as a refrigerated cargo/passenger(12) vessel. Laid up in 1971 together with her sister ship MV Port Sydney. They were both then sold to Greeks who converted them into cruise liners under various names but finally, MV Danae and MV Princess Danae! The Port Sydney was scrapped finally about 2 years ago, whilst the Port Melbourne may still be around.
 

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Not wanting to split hairs but, a cargo ship with a decade or so of service ahead of her would have been unlikely to have been old and seaworn. Look at such ships as that on this and other sites and you'll see that in general cargo ships tended to have careers of around 20 or so years. So one with ten years still ahead of her would have been in the prime of her career.
 

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OK then try the Temple Lane, built 1954 ran aground South America in the 1970( Ithink). Sailed on her 1958-1960, again tramping worldwide but I did- 2x west Africa for logs and ground nuts, copra,Egypt to Japan with phosphates. light ship to Vancouver for sawn timber load fr UK, 14 months running coal from States to NWC, Then NWC to Reunion and Madagascar on to South Africa for a load of maize to Venice then light ship to States for coal before light ship to Vancouver and sawn for UK
 

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Some ships don't last at all!

Nordic Clansman built.1974. Scrapped seven years later. Should have scrapped lots earlier!!!!

If the author is looking for a ship he should look at a Liberty ship. Good, honest working ships. Interesting. Steam too! c. 1960s, yes 20 years old and another 10 to go, but would look like ready for scrap! Lots of them around at that time and traded worldwide. Best of all there are two of them still afloat in US waters and another in Greece as floating museums. You will find all the photos you could want. Plans, drawings, stories. Endless.

Stephen
 

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Worth bearing in mind Suez was shut on and off about that era due to conflict. I joined the Bendearg in 1970 and her route was London, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan (Formosa,) Hong Kong and back to Europe via the Cape of Good Hope.
 

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Hi, my first ship 1957. Stanrealm built 1944 sailed light from UK to Philly for pig iron. Out through Panama to bunker in Hawaii. On to Japan to discharge. Down to Makay QL for bulk sugar. Bunker in Singapore and back through Suez to pay off .Tate and Lyle Liverpool.
 

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if you would/could consider Australia as near to Asia then i would suggest the bank line, they had plenty of ships sailing from Uk to USA then through the panama canal to Oz and from there some would go up to Japan.

Something like the cedar bank built 1955,broken up 1979
 

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Hi, I am an author writing a novel with a young man voyaging on a cargo freighter. He embarks in June, 1966, on a vessel that's about a decade away from being sold for scrap. Old and seaworn.

I'm ideally looking for a real vessel that I can model my fictional one from, so that I will have accurate details about its construction, its engine(s), the route it might have taken (it needs to go through the Panama canal on a voyage to Asia).

If anyone has suggestions, ideally to a vessel that has photos, that would be very helpful. Fingers crossed and thanks in advance for any help.
Actual voyage I did, starting in November 1959 ending in June 1960

Rotterdam - Norfolk (Virginia) - Panama Canal - San Pedro -Kamaishi (Japan) thence various ports North Pacific with various cargoes, thence back to UK via Panama and USA east coast ports, so your passage routing is not impossible.

As suggested earlier your best bet for a ship is the Liberty Type and I would recommend 'The Liberty Ships' by L A SAwyer and W H Mitchell ISBN 1-85044-049-2, which will give you ALL the information you need for your novel.

There are one or two discrepancies, but nothing a layman or non deckman may notice but it is a more or less infallible book for your purposes and contains deckplans, engineroom layouts, accommodation layouts and all equipment carried and gives the names of all 2710 Liberties built
 
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