Completed 1927 as "SPONDILUS" for Anglo-Saxon. 13-10-1959 arrived Hong Kong for scrap.

IMO number
Call sign
Construction number
10.402 ton
Length overall
Year of construction
Year of renaming/broken up
Service for Shell
1927 to 1959
Flag state
Home port



Name Job Period Details
William Redvers... 4th engineer 1930 to 1931
Bryan Whittle deck apprentice 1953 to 1954
Allan Wareing 2nd mate 1953
David G. Cunnington 5th engineer 1953 to 1955
James A Stewart 3rd engineer 1955 to 1956
Gibson Leighton radio officer 1957 to 1958
Jack Williams chief officer 1958 to 1959
Bill Grant oic 1959 laid up ship


Date Visitor Anecdote
04/21/2009 - 23:02 William Redvers...

This is an extract from the book I m writing about my father's forty years at sea as a marine engineer:-

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My father, William Redvers Foprter (1900-75) was still just a 4th Engineer when he left on his third voyage on MV SPONDILUS. They spent New Year?s Eve in Falmouth and after a week left for Curacao and then, surprisingly, headed for the Antarctic whale fishery, arriving ?early in March?. There were a record 41 expeditions in the Antarctic in 1930-1, mostly Norwegian, but one of two British companies, Southern Whaling & Sealing Co., was owned by Lever Bros. The Unilever subsidiary, Raw Materials Ltd, had contracted to buy the entire production of Antarctic whale oil at double its current price and this costly mistake was compounded by whaling expeditions hiring transport vessels to offload whale oil thus extending catching well beyond load capacity. MV Spondilus must have been chartered as one of these transporters and would have also supplied fuel oil to the factory ships (for the furnaces which rendered down the blubber) and whale catchers. With three blue whales as buffers (fender-hval), they moored alongside the factory ships, transferred fuel oil and after flushing their tanks loaded the whale oil. The putrefying bodies of the fender-hval were discarded. Spondilus may have taken oil from Skytteren (the ship on which he spent the 1929-30 whaling season in Antarctica) which secured 94,000 barrels of whale oil that season but only had room for 80,000 barrels. By the 9 March they were at the shore based whaling stations in South Georgia and on the 19th arrived in Table Bay, South Africa. The main customer for whale oil in Germany was Unilever and they called in at Hamburg to unload their cargo, returning to North Shields on the 24 April 1931.

Two days later ?a serious disturbance amongst the Chinese members of the crew? was reported in Lloyds Weekly Casualty Reports:

Jarrow, April 26: A serious disturbance among the Chinese members of the crew of the motor vessel SPONDILUS, owned by Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, Ltd., occurred at Hebburn-on-Tyne on Saturday night (April 25). Revolvers were used and Ah Ling Kee, fireman, was wounded in the head. The officers eventually succeeded in establishing order.

The South Shields Gazette gave a fuller (and more accurate) account of what happened on MV Spondilus the day before my father left the ship. The ?serious disturbance? was over a gambling debt of ?20-17 shillings (the equivalent of about ?900 today) which the quartermaster owed to the boson. There was an argument and the boson was shot by the quartermaster. There were counter accusations of cheating and it was claimed that the victim had bought the revolver in Hamburg. The bosun survived and at Hebburn police court a few weeks later, the charge was reduced to unlawful wounding. The quartermaster was sentenced to six months hard labour and ordered to be deported. The only other person to give evidence was the second mate, Harold Gosling, from Kent. Captain Jack Williams, who was Mate on the MV Spondilus twenty years later, recalled:

?Mah Jong gambling was, and in all probability still is, the major form of relaxation amongst Chinese crews. I can remember quite vividly the ?day workers? opening the tables just after noon on a Saturday and playing with the watch men till well into the Monday morning watch, non stop. I also remember during rounds walking through their smoke filled rest room and seeing a vast amount of hard money, stacked on the tables, at a time when Merchant Navy pay was low, really low. The play was noisy and mainly in a happy mood but it could become heated. I have to say that for all my years at sea the happiest was always with a Chinese crew, they are so reliable, hard working and loyal.?

Without sea time as a junior engineer on a motor ship he would not have been able to get his Chief ticket endorsed for motor vessels. After he left Spondilus on the 26 April 1931 he passed his First Class Motor Examination at Newcastle on the 15 June.

He was qualified to serve as Chief on both steam and motor vessels but trade had ground to a stop, ships were laid up and he was unemployed for a year. By the end of 1931 3.5 m tons, one sixth of the Merchant Navy, were laid up in British ports and 56,000 seamen, one in three, were idle.

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Bill Forster
son of