I must have enjoyed the Humilaria, as I joined the vessel on 11th May 1972 and left on 1st May 1973. I remember that the air-conditioning was always malfunctioning, so there was many a night spent sleeping on deck. People moan about their work today, and it was no different all those years ago, but I remember a time when there was more cameraderie and less selfishness and greed than there is today.
I joined the Ebalina in September 1980 as Chief Steward. I remember when C/0 Mike Barkes joined the vessel a couple of weeks after me. He joined with a 'heavy cold' and took to his bed for a few days. When he felt a little better he visited the Officers Bar around 0900 hours and as it was not opened, he knocked back the presentation miniature bottle of spirits that was given to the vessel by the shipyard. Needless to say the liquor did not have sufficient time to mature. Poor Mike died a year or two later from a brain haemmorage. He was one the last of the ' great characters' during those days.
Grant Arnold, Second cook, Chief Steward 1962-1964 Christened 25 August, 1962, was on the bow
Joined the ship in Rotterdam at the end of its maiden voyage having misplaced the anchor in the English channel? She was an ok ship a few teething problems as I recall, feed pumps losing oil, deck ballast line joints all rupturing when the ballast water slammed into a closed valve, trying to slow the ship up the channel only to find the warming through steam had been left on the hp turbine, soot blower auto warming through valve failing, caused a bit of a panic around the back of the boiler as I recall? But very clean and modern; however slow steaming from Europe to the gulf and back didn't do much for me as an adventure and was the catalyst for me going back on motor ships.
Sorry Paul Wayman, but it was me who “Bullshitted” the papers, I was actually senior cadet at the time. Though I was pissed It all escalated rather quickly. The Chief Officer saw this and pointed at me straight away and said “You” (I thought fuck me that was quick), then he went on “your the senior cadet, I want you to find out who did this”
Anyway, then came the “punishment” work (petty f***ers), I was all set to fess up, then word got round and about a dozen of the lads came to see me. “Mike, don’t do it, you’ll get sacked. Anyway, it was worth it just to see the reaction from the Chief Officer”. So discretion being the better part of valour I kept shtum, though (nearly) everyone knew it was me.
When I left I was branded “immature” on my report. Then thrown out of the captains cabin (Snowdon - I think), for telling him what went on the ship. Ie Alcoholism, drinking contests, sleeping on watch (on the mat behind the helm), flogging the chart corrections etc. He even threw a sellotape dispenser at me.
His response - he wrote to the company refusing to sail with me in any capacity whatsoever ever again. Petty arsehole.
When Shell interviewed me (after already having had my redundancy notice) they said they hoped I had learned something. I said “Yes - you just cant win” , they said that was the wrong attitude, I said it’s the only one you’re going to get from me.
Although we had some fantastic fun, and camaraderie, I hated the ship, and most of the officers on it. I recently went to an old Oralia shipmates wedding - so not all bad.
Going in to La Pallice captain (Rafferty?) was pisssed, god knows how we missed the reef. Pilot came onboard. “Thank god for that I haven’t a clue where we are” the Captain said. “I know where we are, we’re a mile past the reef you just ran over”
My dad Maurice Potter served on this ship. Does anyone remember him ?
Captain William Fretwell was Master of this ship from approx 3 Sept 1909 - March 1911. He sailed to Bangkok, Foochow, Shanghai, Sambilan, Tientsin, Pulo Samboe, Manila, Haiphong, Langkat, Chinwantao and Hong Kong carrying oil. Shipping reports cite the boat may have been owned by Katz and Co (Penang/ Singapore) in 1909. He was later Master of the Cardium, Petricola and Planorbis.
Captain William Fretwell was Master of this ship, Cadmium, in 1914. You will find an interesting article in the Singapore Straits Times of 17 July and Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertisements about an issue he had with his crew - the Master was exonerated.
Later in 1914 he was recalled to Britain to serve in HMS Auxiliary Patrol. After the war he rejoined the company and was Master of the Petricola and Planorbis.
I can corroborate that Nick. My father was a stoker on the El Cerbio on the convoy when she was hit. He told me about nursing the ship back to harbour with an unexploded torpedo inside. Only difference is, he said they KNEW there was an unexploded torpedo onboard when sailing - which is quite likely when you think about it. Attacked by a torpedo bomber, sudden bang, inrush of water, no explosion..... Pretty likely the below-decks guys knew (or strongly suspected) something was there.
Sailed as 1st Radio Officer (I was 17 yrs old) from August 1961 till July 1962. 2 month trip. From Memory (to confirm later). Cardiff dry dock. Then to load Clean Oils at Cork Oil Refinary.
Unload Dublin & London ? then Curacao to London.
Then 9 months.
A:- Curacao to Haiti, Tobaco & Trinadad.
B:- Curacao,- Bahamas.
C:- Curacao or Venesula to New York.
D:- Curacao (Mixture of Clean Oils) to Lisbon, Gibraltar ,Monte Carlo (1st Snow Storm on 100 years). Naples, Greece. Turkey, Izmer & Izmid. Isreal.
E & F :- Thru Suez to Gulf Abadan/Iran to load twice for "South Africa". viz Lorenzo Marks(Biera)/Mozambique, Durban East London, Port Elizabeth, Capetown & Walvis Bay /"South West Africa" now Namibia.
G:- Abadan to Singapore.
H:- Abadan to London.
Only Person I remember is 2nd Mate John Yoe from Devon/ Cornwall.
The ship was off the Bahama's when USA president John F. Kenneday was Assasinated. in 1962
I also was informed by the Captain that " I"/ Ship had received a Commendation from the US Coast Guard for Weather reports
during Hurricane Flora that Devastated Tubaco & Trinadad
as we were the nearest ship to the hurricane center.
No Satelites in those days, comms by Morse Code only.
Carribean radio stations paid by telegrams passing thru, had to trick them into taking weather reports (every 2 hrs).
When I asked the Captain to see/ keep the commendation,
he had "lost" it
... Liam Aylward
Anchored off Shannon, mid-December 1978. Around 2030, a freak wave broke over the ship and destroyed midships accommodation. Took away 2 weather doors port side Captain's deck, damaged the port lifeboat, destroyed midships fresh water pump room and collapsed the deckhead in the second mates cabin. He was lying in bed when he found himself underwater as the water poured in from above.
Minor repairs made in Shannon then we crossed the Atlantic with sheets of plywood covering the ripped out doors, and had proper repairs done in Curacao