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Author Topic: Nautical "Strange but True!"  (Read 137803 times)

Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #200 on: August 08, 2008, 09:22:01 PM »

Missed that Bryan, but you are right about the attention to detail in those days. I have some interesting shots of the Victorian gunboat Gannet preserved at Chatham, including the gutted engine spaces, which I could post on a separate thread if anyone is interested. The ship was of composite construction with wood planking on iron frames.

Colin
You have told me often enough not to be "coy" about things. Go ahead and see the reactions!. I would have assumed that any "real" model-maker would love to have historical information to hand. All grist to the mill....as they used to say.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #201 on: August 09, 2008, 06:33:12 PM »

The 3 "O" class fuel-replenishment ships were all built on the Tyne in the mid 1960s, and did a great job until quite recently. Of course they were expensive to run (being steam turbines) and very noisy. But for their time they were streets ahead of anything most other countries had. The Shah of Iran had a "one-stop" version made for his country...the "Kharg". I often wonder what happened to her as all the infrastucture of which she was a part was modelled along the lines of the British system. I have searched (via Google Earth) the coast of Iran but can find no trace of her. They were pretty quick as well, regularly hitting over 20 knots when required. Not bad for a "tanker". When they were first built they all had a hangar that could accommodate a single Wessex helicopter. But the forward end of the hangar also had a full size hangar door, and forward of the hangar was a "parking deck" for up to 6 more aircraft. (Anti-submarine versions were the "norm"). With this capability in mind the accommodation for the aircrews was quite extensive. Officers amidships and POs and ratings aft. This also meant that the "public" rooms (bars and dining areas) had to be pretty big as well. Therefore the galley staff had to be "beefed-up" also. These things snowball! The deck rew had to be large enough to operate at least 2 rigs 24 hours a day as well as being able to supply a flight-deck crew on a 24 hour basis. The ships never really had much in the way of "temporary" manning except for the aviation side of things. The RFA comms staff were considered "competent" enough on their own (hence 5 Radio Officers)...and so it went on. But the manning levels were way lower than that which the RN would have needed if these ships were under the white as opposed to the blue ensign. Also, to the eternal chagrin of the "stonnery", no civil servants were carried. Goody. It was always a bone of contention with the stonnery that "we" were trusted to load, handle and operate systems that involved weaponry. But with all the courses we used to do I guess we were as well suited (if not better) to the job as they were. Surprising how many strings there were (are) to an RFA Officers bow. (Nowadays some RFA Officers are even appointed as PWO...Principal Weapons Officer...on a frigate. Well trained civilian mercenaries I often thought.
Later on, the single hangar was replaced with a double length one that could house 2 Sea Kings. The original "parking deck" being used to stow aviation spare bits and so on. This hangar extention brought with it another problem. Windage. The sheer size of it meant that a force 5 or 6 wind (particularly on the port beam) would be the equivelant of a 30 ton sideways push at the back end.
It also sort of screwed up the original wind parameters for aircraft operations, which had to be re-calibrated.
In the enclosed pics I have used a pic of RFA "Tidespring" (one of 2, the other being "Tidepool") just to show the evolution of these things from the first "Waves", via stuff like "Tidereach" and so on to a frontal view of the latest (of 2) Fleet Replenisment ships. (The latter will be on the next post as I have forgotten to do it!).
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #202 on: August 09, 2008, 06:58:29 PM »

Another comparison shot to illustrate the "evolution". The first is "Olna" and the 2nd is the newest "Wave Ruler".
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #203 on: August 09, 2008, 07:23:21 PM »

I went on board RFA Largs Bay at the "Meet Your Navy" event at Portsmouth a couple of weeks back. She is a replacement for the "Round Table" (Sir Tristram class) and is a hugely impressive ship. Bryan, I don't want to hijack your thread but I have some pictures if there is any interest.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #204 on: August 09, 2008, 10:26:55 PM »

It is not "my" thread....it's open for everyone. Please, everyone, get this clear, although I have been writing about my life at sea it in no way means it is a private site. Chip in with your own...or start another thread. This is, after all, a Forum that means in itself "open to everyone". But thanks for the thought behind the post though. Bryan.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #205 on: August 09, 2008, 10:35:44 PM »

I went on board RFA Largs Bay at the "Meet Your Navy" event at Portsmouth a couple of weeks back. She is a replacement for the "Round Table" (Sir Tristram class) and is a hugely impressive ship. Bryan, I don't want to hijack your thread but I have some pictures if there is any interest.
Back to the evolution thing I guess. Tasks are different, so the ships are different. There are many "odd odes" to tell about the building of the new "Bay" class, and many of them involve political shenanigans. But one "repeatable" one is that the RN would love to take them over...but that would mean open warfare between the RN and the Army.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #206 on: August 09, 2008, 10:42:55 PM »

I can believe that Bryan, my impression was that they are very capable ships - and the First officer confirmed that!


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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #207 on: August 21, 2008, 08:11:14 PM »

Fast forward now to the summer of 1978. "Tidepool". This was to prove one of the best "trips" I ever did in the RFA. According to my Discharge Book I joined her in Portland, which must have meant being thrown back in at the "deep-end". But I must have been an old-hand at Portlanf by then, so it all went off as expected.
First Week Report...."Below Standard".
Second Week Report...."Ships Company Responding To Staff Advice".
Third Week Report..."Significant improvement in all departments and the ship is judged to be satisfactory"
What a load of old "hoo-ha". I still think that those people who were appointed to Portland were the direct descendants of the Spanish Inquisition. Or else they were recruited from Broadmoor or Rampton.
On this ship, although not one of the "creamy-toppers" we had possibly the best mix of personnel possible. The whole team worked well and it was a pleasure to be part of it.
Just as well really, as our "assignment" was to be the UKs contribution to STANAVFORLANT. Well, we did also have HMS "Ariadne", but as she refused to play nuch of a part I will forget her. The "group" involved ships from Norway, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Holland, Spain and the USA. And us. No Italians this time.
STANAVFORLANT? Standing Naval Force North Atlantic.
What it all boiled down to was that we would all partake in all sorts of exercises (anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and so on) during the "working week". (Early Tuesday morning until mid-Friday afternoon). By which time we should be within reach of somewhere nice to spend the weekend.However, it was a "Staff Requirement" that the crews of all the ships should get to know each other. In no way am I going to comment on the collaboration between the ratings and the POs of the various ships.
Perhaps "raucous" would fit.
But our Captain had decided that with "Ariadne" staying aloof then "Tidepool" would be remembered.
Lets backtrack for a minute. All the other ships were either Destroyers, Frigates or little submarines. We were the only ship that had "space". We had 3 bars. The Americans had none. The other European ships had "drink available" (not bars). So the sensible thing to do was to treat all the ships the same and allow free access from one ship to another. Got a bit complicated sometimes when strange faces appeared at breakfast....but this applied to all the ships. Being the "big ship" among the tiddlers (plus having the 3 bars) it was quite easy to lose track of how many lodgers and of what nationality we had staying overnight. As far as I am aware no "lodger" was ever hauled over the coals by his own ship after these weekends. And that made everyone very happy. Apart from "Ariadne", of course.
As all the ships were more or less tied up togetherthe interchanges were superb. The Americans compensated for the lack of liquid hospitality by having a 24 hour meal service (Wonderful). The Danes and Norwegians kept "open house" with snacks and the Portuguese kept us supplied with wine. The Germans were a little different. Welcoming, but not really able to get into the "fun" side of things. Very serious. I thought I would find this with the Americans, but they were fun.
But the Germans had another card to play. They had provided the little submarines  to both attack and evade the group. I believe these things were meant for ops in the shallow N.Sea and Baltic. Very quiet. I don't think they were often found, but they were were always more than happy to tie up alongside us and have the crews use our "facilities". There were not many officers aboard these subs, but those who could would always be invited to spend the night with us. But those who did never slept in the cabin they had been given. They all preffered to sleep under the lounge "settees" that had only about a foot of space underneath them.
It was on one of these occasions that I got to chatting with the CO of one of these subs.I asked him why, given that they were so successful, they never went to Portland to train and teach others. His answer was that as "they" had written the book on submarine warfare he felt no need to teach others. Says it all, really.
We (Tidepool)_ finished our stint in Lisbon. As a City, I love Lisbon. The inner harbour is nice and secure. The Nato fuel jetty is not.  The entrance to Lisbon is wide open to the N.Atlantic and in bad weather huge rollers come creaming in. And the fuelling jetty is right in their way. I think we exhausted our stock of mooring ropes that night. Not nice. But then we all left to go back north again.
It seems to be a tradition that departing ships do a "steam past" down 2 rows of ships. We had recently re-fuellled the German destroyer but they had had a fuel spill (FFO, not modern deisel). So with her ships side covered in oil the crew had used paint rollers to write "F... Off Tidepool". Taken in good heart. But we were off to Florida and sort of rescuing HMS "Birmingham" who was running out of fuel.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #208 on: September 05, 2008, 07:09:55 PM »

The thing about "rescuing" Birmingham was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I knew that she had gas-turbine engines, but I had'nt realised that she used her fuel as ballast. The engines being so light in weight compared to deisels she became a little "edgy" as her fuel load ran down. Therefore she needed a bit of a "top-up" more often than would be considered normal. She was by no means the only frigate/destroyer to have this problem, but it was a first for me. In retrospect it appears to be yet another cock-up by my least favourite MoD(Navy) Department. The "Constructors". This little episode gave rise to yet more little pearls of wisdom from those "who are supposed to know" stipulating the level of fuel reserves any ship should have available at all times. A euphemism if ever I heard one. So the RFA spent yonks charging around the oceans topping up frigates and so on that had unwisely used more than 25% of their fuel. All a bit daft really, but we eventually reached Tampa where the local pilot promply ran us aground. Smack in the middle of the harbour entrance. Kind of makes a mockery of the large signs seen in all USN Dockyards claiming that they are "A Defect Free Organisation". Anyway, this clown had just misjudged the tide and we were able to carry on after a few hours. I liked Tampa...especially the bars that had Banjo Bands, but I was equally miffed at at the locals insisting that our ships name was "Tadpole". Perhaps it was just their dialect, as in their insistence in calling buoys "booeys". Bloody colonials! On our way home we were treated to a low level flypast by an airliner carting our then Prime Minister (Callaghan) home from some important barbecue or something to deliver his well known question "Crisis, what crisis?".
All in all a pretty good trip, especially the first part, and then it all sort of fizzled out and we just saw an awful lot of water (again).
I was overjoyed to get "Lyness" as my next ship. I was getting a bit fed-up with constant ammo ships and tankers. A nice clean straightforward stores ship without an aircraft embarked sounded like seventh heaven. More on the Nessies" later.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #209 on: September 06, 2008, 07:51:43 PM »

Sorry for yesterdays truncated epistle, but I forgot about "dinner-time".
The "Ness" class. 3 sister ships built on the Tyne. "Lyness", "Tarbatness" and "Stromness". Built during the mid 1960s when the RFA was going through one of its periods of navel gazing. These 3 ships were designed by Swan Hunter and were built around the same time as "Resource" and "Regent" (Clyde and Belfast). Many moons ago on this thread I described "Resource". Big for its time. General stores (including 'fridge stuff) but mainly ammo of one sort or another. I believe the "R"s came in at around 11m each. A bit pricey in the mid 60's. All 3 "Nesses" cost about the same (for 3). But as the "R"s had been in gestation since the late 1950s being constantly "modified" (another euphemism) by our beloved corps of "Naval Constructors" this wasn't surprising. For some reason they who were "in charge" decided that "Lyness" would have a UK crew, "Tarbatness" a Maltese crowd and "Super Sampan" would be a gigantic Chinese takeaway. Guess which one was the most popular appointment! They all had slightly different roles within the great scheme of things. Memory fades a bit, but I think "Tarbatness" was the Air Stores ship, "Stromness" was food and "goodies" and "Lyness" general naval stores. All 3 carried a fair amount of "other stuff" as well. None were capable of issuing fuel and liquids other than bar replenishment stocks. You would think, rational human beings that you are, that the 3 ships would be deployed within some sort of "calling distance" of each other. Wrong. "Strom" was almost excusively employed enjoying herself in Singapore and other points East. Haven't a clue where "Tarbatness" disappeared off to, and "Lyness" got stuck mainly with NATO in the colder parts of the globe. (When the colder parts were colder than today). As you can imagine the visual impact of the 3 ships was as chalk and cheese. "Strom" could have doubled as a Royal Yacht, "Tarbatness" just looked a bit "seedy" and "Lyness" could look like an old nag after a N.Atlantic winter. But that was just on the outside. Guess which one was the best one operationally and which the worst. Whilst having a large flight deck these 3 ships were not aircraft compatible. No hangar and so on. The flight deck was there to enable the Stonnery to load the deck up with stores for Vertrep. OK, but still a waste of what could have been a more versatile ship. It wasn't until the late 70s when the 2 new "Fort" class appeared (Austin and Grange), that this was rectified. The "Forts" looked like enlarged "Nesses", and indeed the general layout was similar...but I'm getting ahead of myself. The 3 "Nesses" served very well until just after the Falklands thing when they were all sold to the U.S.A. who promptly added a hangar and kept them in service until quite recently. 40 years of service is not bad going. I do hope that the 3 ships are brought back to the UK for breaking up though. It would give me great pleasure to tell the "anti-pollution" brigade that although the ships have an awful lot of asbestos in them, they were built in this country for service with the MoD(N). But I doubt that they would listen.
My "trip" on Lyness was very much an "odd-ball". For reasons that escape me we left the UK a couple of weeks after the "group" and so we were on our own. Lovely. We should have been going to places like Singapore and Hong Kong, but instead we went directly to Australia via the west coast route. This was when we were not a thousand miles away from the splashdown of Skylab. A bit close for comfort. Being on our own without all the general day to day "evolutions" thought up by "staff" gave us a chance to really get up to speed with fire-fighting and damage control exercises. After a bit of haggling and arm twisting I managed to get the lower forepeak (3 or 4 decks down) cleared of long forgotten stores and other junk and then convinced "management" that shoving in about 3 ft of sea water would be a "good thing". As rhe ship was rolling about a bit the water got to sloshing around quite nicely which meant putting in shores and wedges was not easy for the teams...but the water was warm(ish) and it was all done in "slow time" and in good heart. There are few things more frustrating than being underwater trying to hammer a wedge into place only for the wedge to slip away and float to the surface, catch it and then try to remember which way round it goes. (I know its the pointy end, but there is a reason why wedges are not the same on both "long" sides...for the same reason there are soft-wood wedges and hard-wood wedges). It,s also not funny to be clobbered by an Acro-Prop that some gormless idiot has tried to pass down a ladder the wrong way up. But we learn from our mistakes (?). This was all much better than the "Go-Go-Go" attitude of the sadists running the Drew at "Phoenix". Dinner time again, continue later. BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #210 on: September 06, 2008, 08:00:51 PM »

The "Nessies"
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #211 on: September 08, 2008, 07:34:59 PM »

So the Damage Control efforts went off OK. Probably helped that I was the one that got soaked half a dozen times while the "participants" only got wet once...although one team decided that they would like another run at it as they weren't happy with their performance the first time around. Spoke volumes to me did that. Not many ships can do or afford this space and effort, but I wish they could.
Firefighting has always been a bit of an odd thing on Merchant ships. It's one heck of a lot better now than when I was a cadet. Then it was just called "Board of Trade" sports. No-one took it seriously. Everyone knew "it" was going to happen and so a hose was rigged to throw water over the stern. The old "Siebe-Gorman" helmet, air hose and bellows were laid out. pretty crap gear really, but that was what the "Rules" said you must have. The "firefighter" would don the asbestos hood which came down and sat on his shoulders, the air-hose would be connected and somebody would be told to pump air to him with an old fashioned blacksmiths type of wood and leather bellows thing. so if the "pumper" kept going the poor sod at the other end would get some air. If the "pumper" decided to have a fag break he was well and truly stuffed. This was probably OK when there was no smoke or fire, but that was never a consideration. As there was only the one smoke helmet the guy wearing it had to drag his own hose. But as one person cannot drag a fully charged hose 60ft and around corners it was always done with an empty hose. The whole thing was a joke.
It was only really after joining the RFA and getting to grips with the "ethos" of firefighting that I began to see a lot of sense in the RFA/RN attitude. Point 1....and all points thereafter....in the middle of the ocean the only real lifeboat is your ship. Save it. I cannot help but see that many crews abandon their ship at the first hint of trouble. There are good exceptions of course, as Bunkerbarge and some others will testify, but these events do happen and a lack of basic training lies at the heart of it all...as well as getting untrained crews from wherever to man the ship.
It may be a bit enlightening to some if I walked you through a fire-fighting exercise from the days when I used to do it.
1....About 3 days before the "event", walk around the ship looking for awkward but "feasible" areas. Be aware that "eyeballs" are watching, so disguise intentions.
2....Work out which will be the "lead team" (the ones who will do the most work) and decide which of this team will either go missing or be injured. This ensures a seperate "search and rescue" exercise and gives the 1st Aid teams something to do.
3....There will always be some people who would not be involved (this time), so appoint them as "monitors" (be they deck boys or senior officers).
4....Arrange to have the selected compartment "isolated" (electrically). Obviously a few people have to be aware of the idea, but it was very rare for anyone to "snitch" as I think they all realised that it was all being done "in a good cause" and no benefit would come from cheating. The execise would normally begin with me setting off a smoke-bomb in the selected compartment. All the "main" RFAs have a constantly manned "HQ1" (very Navy). The reaction from HQ1 triggers the exercise.
5....All fire-fighting exercises are done with fully charged hoses, which means having a back-up team of hose handlers ..and believe me, 60ft of full hose is heavy. But as the lead guy cannot see where he is going we also have to have a camera guy to steer him.
But you get the idea by now.
Try not to do the exercise at full speed and be prepared to call a "pause" if things are going a bit pear-shaped. Always do a de-brief, preferably face to face with the ships company and let the monitors have their say. Surprising what a lowly galley-boy can come up with sometimes!
A "biggie" like this I would do about once every 3 weeks, but once a week for little ones that wouldn't involve the whole crew.
Apart from not being a thousand miles away from the Spacelab "splashdown" the whole voyage was quite benign and more of a paid for cruise really. Everyone got a weekend off in either Australia or NZ (a weekend in these circumstances being 4 days).
But then a gentle meander home in time for Xmas. BY.
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Roger in France

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #212 on: September 09, 2008, 07:35:51 AM »

Brian,

Very interesting description of the fire fighting exercise. Your advice "to save the only ship in the vicinity....yours!" seems sound to me! I was thinking that the fire exercises I was involved in (not on board ship) were a mockery by comparison.

Roger in France.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #213 on: October 09, 2008, 12:01:27 AM »

Thanks for your comments Roger. A couple of guys in our club have commented on this, and agree that the "Board of Trade" sports were, and are, inadequate. Having been retired for a goodly number of years now, I would really like to hear how more "modern" people such as Bunkerbarge etc. address the problem. It would still seem to be a weakness in Merchant Ship manning that so many ships trotting around the oceans today are manned by people who have only rudimentary (if those) skills that were once considered unacceptable. A bit like the banking crisis really, the "bean counters" take over then everything goes oopsey.
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Shipmate60

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #214 on: October 09, 2008, 12:12:08 AM »

Bryan,
With manning now down to, or close to, the Minimum Manning Standard the ethos of firefighting has changed dramatically.
We are now taught that BA is for rescue only as we only have the bodies for 1 team now.
Damage control is not practiced anywhere as much as it was.
The theory now is to use the fixed firefighting system. If it is in an area that is not covered by the fixed system, isolate, boundary cool and wait for assistance or take to the lifeboats.
One big change from when I first went to sea 30 yrs ago.

Bob
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #215 on: October 09, 2008, 12:58:47 AM »

Bryan,
With manning now down to, or close to, the Minimum Manning Standard the ethos of firefighting has changed dramatically.
We are now taught that BA is for rescue only as we only have the bodies for 1 team now.
Damage control is not practiced anywhere as much as it was.
The theory now is to use the fixed firefighting system. If it is in an area that is not covered by the fixed system, isolate, boundary cool and wait for assistance or take to the lifeboats.
One big change from when I first went to sea 30 yrs ago.

Bob
I understand about the minimum manning standard. I can also understand (albeit with clenched teeth) that you only have personnel sufficient for rescue purposes. Do fixed systems really work when you want them to? How often are they really tested? What areas are not covered by these systems?
I preached Damage Control above fire because it was more likely to happen....not because of use of weaponry, but because of stuff like groundings and collissions and so on. Fire can then result.
If all fails then you have to take to the boats. You can bet your bottom dollar (if you have one left)) that the lifeboats are the poorest maintaintained bits of the ship. OK...the engines are run once a week, the stores are checked once every so often....and that's it.
So there you are in the middle of nowhere sitting in a poorly maintained lifeboat waiting for some other agency to come and get you out of this predicament. Perhaps there is no other "agency". What then? Unless your "home" has actually sunk then it is still "home".
I am in no way getting at you "shipmate-60", but attempting to describe the knock-on effects of a "dumbing-down" attitude of shipowners and lack of oversight by the so-called flags of convenience.
The vast majoritory of you will read a Daily Newspaper. Very few of you will read the publications such as "Lloyds List" and so on. Ships sink at an alarming rate and nobody seems to give a damn. Out of sight- out of mind. Poor sods. But who gives a stuff when there is money to be made.
All this in response to a general comment! Sorry. BY.
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Shipmate60

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #216 on: October 09, 2008, 01:28:53 AM »

Bryan,
I can only answer for the ships I have been on.
The fixed firefighting system is tested weekly as are the lifeboats.
We do know the dangers and so do maintain the emergency gear well, how do I know? I am the safety Officer on board and if I ever suspect there has been any "biro" maintenance all hell breaks loose.
But things will only get worse as we are now going GP instead of Engine Room and Deck.
This will cut the manning numbers even more, it still goes on.
I am now desperate to take Early Severance, but another of our Chief Engineers resigned last week so not likely.
At least we still have all Brit Crews so language and culture are not a problem.
My present ship is 32 yrs old and due for replacement, but her replacement keeps "slipping to the right" so she will need her Special Survey and possibly one more.
But of course money is tight so she will continue to decline at an ever increasing rate.

Bob
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Bunkerbarge

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #217 on: October 09, 2008, 09:46:51 AM »

Thanks for your comments Roger. A couple of guys in our club have commented on this, and agree that the "Board of Trade" sports were, and are, inadequate. Having been retired for a goodly number of years now, I would really like to hear how more "modern" people such as Bunkerbarge etc. address the problem. It would still seem to be a weakness in Merchant Ship manning that so many ships trotting around the oceans today are manned by people who have only rudimentary (if those) skills that were once considered unacceptable. A bit like the banking crisis really, the "bean counters" take over then everything goes oopsey.

A very interesting point Bryan but I have to say my employer is not a typical modern company.  They take all aspects of safety extreemly seriously to the point where I see it as a significant reason for working for them.

As far as fire fighting goes we go well above and beyond the requirements as regards supplying equipment and our frequency of training.  We actually are regularly complemented during our USCG drills and inspections and I know for a fact that no other company takes this to the level we do.

Just to give you an idea, we have four fully equiped fire teams, two manned by deck department  personnel and two manned by engineering teams.  The idea being that in an engineering scenario the engineering teams tackle the fire while the deck lads support with boundry cooling and in an accomodation situation the roles are reversed.  The "On Scene Commander" for the deck lads is the Safety Officer and the engineering team equivilent is the "Staff Chief Engineer".  Each fire team consists of four fully suited and BA equipped fire fighters with approximately six back up team members for hose handling and running etc.   We also have an equally equipped "Search and Rescue" team who are used for clearing accomodation areas but could also be used to support the fire teams if required.

Each of the seven vertical fire zones has it's own fire locker with the main ones that the teams used having large numbers of spare equipment as well as the other lockers holding spare gear should the primary locker not be available.  As far as equipment goes we also have infra red heat sensing cameras both helmet mounted as well as hand held and all the BA sets, helmets suits etc etc.. are the best and continually maintained by the deck team.  We also have CO2 coverage in the main areas, including galley hoods as well as a high fog smothering system in the high risk machinery spaces.  That's the gear.


Training is also well above and beyond.  We send the teams ashore each month to do a days refresher training at the local shore based fire station in our home port.  Consequently each team should get a days refresher a couple of times a year.  This is live scenario training, fully suited and in BA.  We also have the trainers on board for a cruise to do training with the teams just prior to any USCG inspection to get the teams up to the best standard.

Regular on board drills incorporate a weekly drill where we alternate a deck scenario with an engine room scenario and team training so we should do an engineering scenario at least every month.  The location of the scenario is entirely up to the "Staff Chief Engineer" and we try to come up with a location relevent to anything that is going on at the time and is always a fully suited excercise involving hose handling and involving casualties.  i.e. if we have a project going on in a particular place we might decide to have a scenario in that location just to concentrate peoples minds on it.

Obviously these two situations are not comparable and some would argue that as we are protecting 3600 lives we should be at this level.  Then again what is the value of any life on any ship?

I'm sure that the budgetary constraints we are going to be looking at in the future are going to make this an ever challenging situation and, unfortunately, it is going to take incidents and possibly loss of life to keep things on track.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #218 on: October 09, 2008, 06:59:23 PM »

Thanks for your comments Roger. A couple of guys in our club have commented on this, and agree that the "Board of Trade" sports were, and are, inadequate. Having been retired for a goodly number of years now, I would really like to hear how more "modern" people such as Bunkerbarge etc. address the problem. It would still seem to be a weakness in Merchant Ship manning that so many ships trotting around the oceans today are manned by people who have only rudimentary (if those) skills that were once considered unacceptable. A bit like the banking crisis really, the "bean counters" take over then everything goes oopsey.

A very interesting point Bryan but I have to say my employer is not a typical modern company.  They take all aspects of safety extreemly seriously to the point where I see it as a significant reason for working for them.

As far as fire fighting goes we go well above and beyond the requirements as regards supplying equipment and our frequency of training.  We actually are regularly complemented during our USCG drills and inspections and I know for a fact that no other company takes this to the level we do.

Just to give you an idea, we have four fully equiped fire teams, two manned by deck department  personnel and two manned by engineering teams.  The idea being that in an engineering scenario the engineering teams tackle the fire while the deck lads support with boundry cooling and in an accomodation situation the roles are reversed.  The "On Scene Commander" for the deck lads is the Safety Officer and the engineering team equivilent is the "Staff Chief Engineer".  Each fire team consists of four fully suited and BA equipped fire fighters with approximately six back up team members for hose handling and running etc.   We also have an equally equipped "Search and Rescue" team who are used for clearing accomodation areas but could also be used to support the fire teams if required.

Each of the seven vertical fire zones has it's own fire locker with the main ones that the teams used having large numbers of spare equipment as well as the other lockers holding spare gear should the primary locker not be available.  As far as equipment goes we also have infra red heat sensing cameras both helmet mounted as well as hand held and all the BA sets, helmets suits etc etc.. are the best and continually maintained by the deck team.  We also have CO2 coverage in the main areas, including galley hoods as well as a high fog smothering system in the high risk machinery spaces.  That's the gear.


Training is also well above and beyond.  We send the teams ashore each month to do a days refresher training at the local shore based fire station in our home port.  Consequently each team should get a days refresher a couple of times a year.  This is live scenario training, fully suited and in BA.  We also have the trainers on board for a cruise to do training with the teams just prior to any USCG inspection to get the teams up to the best standard.

Regular on board drills incorporate a weekly drill where we alternate a deck scenario with an engine room scenario and team training so we should do an engineering scenario at least every month.  The location of the scenario is entirely up to the "Staff Chief Engineer" and we try to come up with a location relevent to anything that is going on at the time and is always a fully suited excercise involving hose handling and involving casualties.  i.e. if we have a project going on in a particular place we might decide to have a scenario in that location just to concentrate peoples minds on it.

Obviously these two situations are not comparable and some would argue that as we are protecting 3600 lives we should be at this level.  Then again what is the value of any life on any ship?

I'm sure that the budgetary constraints we are going to be looking at in the future are going to make this an ever challenging situation and, unfortunately, it is going to take incidents and possibly loss of life to keep things on track.
Thanks. A very nice reply. Perhaps if sceptical future passengers were made aware of your precautions they may not be as sceptical? Your response has certainly eased my mind a little. You have dealt nicely with the "mechanics" of the system....but is there also a regime to allay passenger panic? I would imagine that this would be pretty high on the agenda given my own experiences in an exercise scenario that did actually create panic among the volunteer "passengers". Cheers. Bryan.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #219 on: February 23, 2009, 08:10:52 PM »

Just been re-reading my last few posts here and realised that it all sort of petered out just before the Falklands thing came up. As there was no reaction to the cessation I just assumed that any slight interest had evaporated...so I gave up. I am grateful to those who said my meanderings cheered up the breakfast table, and feel a little sad that my humour may have been replaced by the more usual glowering. If what I write is readable, would you want me to continue? Bryan.
PS, as because of some stupid electronic glitch I seem to be unable to receive e-mails I guess I won't be able to read any replies! What do I do now? Tried calling the ISP provider who I believe is located on Pitcairn Island and always seems to be out scrubbing statues when I call. Oh, woe is me. Still, the gout has cleared up. Cheers.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #220 on: February 25, 2009, 06:33:10 PM »

After this rather lengthy gap in my meanderings it may take a wee while to get back into the swing of things. I may also repeat the odd "happening", but if I do, then I beg your forebearance....if not your forgiveness. So I apologize in advance. I think I left you all when I went on leave from "Lyness" after a particulary stress free voyage to Aussie and back....thanks to you, the taxpayer. Having spent some years travelling the world at your expense I think it is only fair that I tell you what some of your money was spent on. Readers of my earlier postings may recall the stresses and strains of "The Portland Work-Up"....those periods together with some horrific, mind sapping, physically uncomfortable and pretty dreadful N.Atlantic "war-games" help to mitigate the lack of guilt I feel about enjoying some of the better times.
According to my Discharge Book I joined "Tidepool" in 1980. (again). This is the ship the yanks insisted on calling "Taadpole". Bloody Colonials. Apart from multi-crossings of the Atlantic and the presence on board of a very Islamic Doctor, the trip was unremarkable. Except for the Doctor. Normally the ships doctor is a fount of entertainment as well as being both an evil necessity and the butt of many jokes. Also, although he carries an honorary 3 rings, he is welcomed in the Officers Bar, Petty Officers Bar and the Ratings Bar...a bit like a priest really. Or an Imam, in the case of this guy. No humour at all. On various occasions he would bide his time until a crew member who had inadvertently "insulted" him paid a surgery visit.....and would then be given the most painful treatment the guy could devise. The RFA has (had) a long history of "odd-ball" doctors, but this chap was in a league of his own. I fell foul of him just because I got into a shower stall because he wanted it first. So his patient list went down quite quickly. His comeuppence was quite dramatic. It was during a Mess Dinner with various members of other Navies attending (yes, we did know how to do "posh" when required). The soup was "green pea". The "doc" in deference to his "rank" was at the "top table". It was only when he reached the bottom of his bowl did he see 3 bacon rinds had been inserted. Total mental eruption. Much hilarity and tut-tutting....he left soon after, to be replaced by a Dr. Kronk, who despite his odd name was well regarded. So another leave beckoned. It must seem that I was always on leave......not so. Came home a gibbering wreck on more than one occasion, perhaps it still shows.
     But then in '81 I was reappointed to "Resource". By now I knew the old girl better than her designers did! Long time readers may recall that this is the ship that had goal-posts made out of nuclear weapons containers, had its main turbines shattered and somehow managed to load 500 tons of heavy fuel oil only to pump it all out again into an empty dry-dock. But that was in 1972. Things were better now. Or so I thought.
    But I still sort of liked the ship. Before they took the bombs out she was a very good "sea ship". For new readrers I should explain. Due to various legal constraints the 2 "R" class ships (the other was "Regent") they were never allowed to operate at their designed draught, so they had to be ballasted. Rather than wasting good money , and this being a very volatile high capacity ammunition ship "they" decided to use WW2 500lb bombs as ballast. About 3000 tons of them. On the grounds that one explosion is is good as another I suppose. But then came the "Torrey Canyon" grounding and the "ballast" was given to the RAF and RNFC. (I know this was a few years before the time I am writing about). My point is that the new ballast may have well been made of aluminium. Use more than 15* of helm and you began to wonder if your will was up to date. Another "awkwardness" of these ships was that as far as the Gov't and the RN were concerned "we" shouldn't be allowed anywhere close to centres of habitation. Sometimes I wondered if that definition included the habitat of foxes, stoats and owls. On one occasion (USA) we were left to rot 12 miles away from the port. So much for shore leave. With a crew of 200 and being at sea for over a month this could cause a few problems. Especially when all the other ships in the group were enjoying "hospitality". But there we sat. Plymouth was even worse. We used to tie up to a buoy near the detached breakwater. The communication cable had "gone down" yonks previously and had never been re-instated. So there we lay. No defence apart from 2 geriatric guys on the gangway, no weapons, no defence and loaded to the gunwhales with everything you do not want to know about. If only Al Queda had known!. But for the crew even making a phone call home was an evenings trek. Catch an MFV, half an hour to shore, find a phone box, make call then wait in the rain (always rains in Plymouth) catch a boat back(another half an hour) and that was the run ashore. All in all, the RFA was treated pretty shabbily by the RN and the Dockyard and for that I find it hard even now to forgive their attitude. Other countries were more welcoming.....just as well as our mooring ropes may have become fossilised.
But now I can recall where I was up to, and will continue soon. Cheers. Bryan.
     
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #221 on: February 26, 2009, 06:30:05 PM »

Just waiting for some glue to dry, and I've run out of clamps. So what better way of filling in some time than to continue this sorry tale.
    I guess I must have done yet another refit on "Resource", but nothing really comes to mind. Except that it must have been on the Tyne. The only reason that comes to mind is because when I first met brian_c (of this forum, and I was then retired) he mentioned that he used to work at Smiths Docks, and had "done" a refit on "Resource". Indeed, he was..and still is, as far as I know, quite proud of the fact that he and his "chums" had found a hidden hidey-hole to skive off in. Until some sod locked it up. Well, that "sod" turned out to be me. I told you earlier that I knew the ship better than her designers did. The area Brian and his (non)work mates thought they had found was a sort of void area above a lift machinery space. I must admit that they had done it out quite nicely with a roulette table, easy chairs and a fully stocked bar. Just made that up really....but it was a snug. So I stuck a Detector lock on it (the sort of high-tech gizmo that we then used to guard the "nasties" compartments). I opened it up again just before the refit end and quietly watched the ant trail going in to collect their long lost possessions. But Brian was younger then. Now he has shorter hair and a rediscovered work ethic.
So after that I imagine that we did yet another BOST (another name for the "Work Up", meaning Basic Operational Sea Training, except that it wasn't as basic as the name would suggest.....but I've been through all that malakey earlier).
This "shortish" trip was, as I said mainly a big re-store for the RAF and Army in Cyprus, with a bit tossed in for Gibraltar. This was in addition to our "normal" weapon load, disaster relief stuff and (very importantly) lots and lots of food (fresh and frozen), literally tons of beer and all the sweeties and choccy bars the armed services seem to exist on. I suppose we should have had a big sign painted on the side saying "Stop Me And Buy One"...not so daft really as whenever an RN ship was "inadvertently" in our vicinity it was inevitable that a RAS or Vertrep would be requested. We had our own Wessex 5 embarked (side number 469 for you historians). You name it, we had it. Dish cloths and cleaning gear, bits for machine guns (complete guns if thats what you wanted), ammo, a missile or 2? No problem. And always lots and lots of beer (Draught or Canned,sir?) and never forgetting the insatiable demand and consumption of the choccies. This class of ship if you recall, had a large Stonnery contingent. But the poor NAAFI manager was basically on his own and had to beg manpower from other departments. Always given, but at "a price", which could possibly explain the huge "write-down" allowed by the NAAFI management!
    Anyway, I digress. During the trip south our engineers suspected a condenser contamination problem and so before we berthed in Gib.naval base it was decided to anchor overnight in Algerciras Bay so the problem could be "looked at". I have a funny feeling that I have told this tale before, but never mind. I know that "Bunkerbarge" has a long memory, but this is the same ship that had the comical disasters during the 1972 Clyde refit when a Junior Engineer managed to load (overnight) 500 tons of FFO through the stbd side and pump it all out again through the port side....into an almost empty dry-dock. So "Resource" had a bit of "history" as the parlance goes. So, back to the overnight anchorage. For some unexplained and unusual altruistic reason I decided to let the Nav. have a night in bed, and I would do his morning 4-8 anchor watch. But it was such a beautiful sunrise. The light was magnificent.
The 12-4 engine room watch was to test the condenser for signs of leakage using some gloop called "Flourescene" (or something). Apparently only a few drops of this stuff will find its way into every nook and cranny imaginable, and so indicate wher a leak may be. Using a full bottle is a bit of a no-no, and has unintended consequences. I had been wondering about the intensity of the dawn light, but all became clear (no pun intended) when I strolled out on to the bridge wing. Almost the entire Bay of Algerciras was a very vivid luminous pale green. Oops. Oh,dear. This must have been visible from space. I can just imagine an astronaut saying "Hello Houston, I think we have found "Resource" again".
Unfortunately the aftermath of this little hiccup was beyond my pay-grade, but I imagine Mrs.T had some naughty words to say.
But then on to Cyprus, and a more serious event. Bryan.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #222 on: February 26, 2009, 07:56:58 PM »

Bryan,

Almost right Bryan - it was Fluoroscene used for detecting leaks in condensers and coolers. However, it only showed up under an ultra-violet lamp which was a large and awkward bit of kit to work into a confined space. If you could see something glowing on the water, did you think of checking the scuppers in way of your whizz-bangs? With a geiger counter?

Cheers - keep it going

Barry M
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #223 on: February 26, 2009, 10:39:44 PM »

Bryan,

Almost right Bryan - it was Fluoroscene used for detecting leaks in condensers and coolers. However, it only showed up under an ultra-violet lamp which was a large and awkward bit of kit to work into a confined space. If you could see something glowing on the water, did you think of checking the scuppers in way of your whizz-bangs? With a geiger counter?

Cheers - keep it going

Barry M
Could be that you are correct, but as the whole bay was a "funny colour" I am at a loss. Perhaps the whole ship was irradiated? God knows. I just remember the livid green bay. Bryan.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #224 on: February 26, 2009, 10:51:13 PM »

Bryan,

You may be right after all. After a drop of Dr Gordon's tonic, my brain cell has creaked into life. It tells me that under ultraviolet light, fluoroscene glowed brilliant emerald green but under natural light it imparted a sort of dull green sheen to water.
Thus, my apologies.

Ye gods, the things you have to dredge up from your memory on this Forum. It'll be boiler water phosphate testing next or how the Mate tarmac-ed the Firth of Clyde.

Cheers,

Barry M
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