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Author Topic: Nautical "Strange but True!"  (Read 151569 times)

Shipmate60

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Re: Nautical strange but true
« Reply #500 on: March 10, 2010, 05:08:54 pm »

Bryan,
This thread is facinating.
There have been others that I would want to do a similar thread but they wont.
Keep up the good work.

Bob
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kiwi

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Re: Nautical strange but true
« Reply #501 on: March 10, 2010, 06:25:51 pm »

Hi Bryan,
Your various jottings on the forum would be the only ones that I've read all and every one you have ever posted.
Keep up the good work, you write such interesting articles so well.
A silent fan
cheers
kiwi

 :-))
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical strange but true
« Reply #502 on: March 10, 2010, 07:09:20 pm »

Bryan,
This thread is facinating.
There have been others that I would want to do a similst thread but they wont.
Keep up the good work.

Bob

Thanks for that. Over the last few days I've been mulling over whether or not to continue. Eventually it seemed a little selfish of me to retreat and just let "things" lie dormant until it was all forgotten. As happens to most postings.
The main reason for stopping when I did was the fact that I just couldn't dredge up any humour out of the "Olwen" voyage. Of course, there must have been some, even to my cynical little brain.
I was only ever a First Officer (Deck) in the RFA. Although a qualified Master Mariner I never got promoted to a higher rank. Although my ship knowledge and general skills were sort of appreciated by some above me I'm afraid that my habit of either "speaking my mind" or "not being a "Team Player".....in other words, not wanting to be  corporate man...held me back. Nor did my absolute refusal to join the Masons do me any good. Even my wife was approached to "sound me out" on the subject. No chance. So there I stuck, a pretty highly trained and competent Navigator with opinions. Not really the best way to win over some of the more incompetent chancers that had attained their goal of "power". And it was in "Olwen" that I was to sail under 2 of them. The RFA sort of circulates personell between Sea-going" appointments and "Shore-based" ones.  This is absolutely superb in theory. Naturally, it brings people into contact with others who have a different mind-set. I refer here to the "civil service" part of the organisation. In so many cases I watched and saw people who I knew and respected as good officers on board a ship being transformed into uniformed beaurocrats. None of them twigged how they'd been manipulated. They began imitatating the current "Fashions".....such as always wering black leather gloves, or the sort of coat that was really designed for horse riders. The dropping of names of "those in power" that they'd met. This really sickened me. Very much my feelings when I read about anti-monarchists, rabid "leftists", staunch left-wing unionists and so on gleefully accepting a peerage. Makes me want to puke sometimes.
For some reason I never understood I was only the Deck Officers that succumbed to the riches offered by the Sir Humphries of the world they were projected into. The Engineers (and Pursers, Radio officers) all seemed to return to a sea-going appointment as normal people. As you may have gathered from my (too) many postings on life in the RFA that I have a sort of affinity with the dirty clankies. This is probably a mind-set from my family all being engineers in one form or another (mainly down coal mines). When I left school (Tynemouth High) I was really qualified for nothing. In retrospect I think I was better suited to a Secondary school. But then I would have had to learn a "trade". In my case that would have meant something that involved dirt and spanners. No thank you. So I eventually got a job as a young person being given the shittiest jobs ever doled out....a deck cadet. And I suppose that all coloured my take on "life" as a whole.
I enjoy getting dirty and using spanners....but in my own time. Although somewhat moderated (depends who I'm talking to) my accent / dialect is still discernable as sort of Geordie...but that's what I am. I'm not stupid, I'm reasonably well educated, have an interest in the world...and yet I still feel a bit of despair when I read (or see with my own eyes) congenital idiots being parachuted into positions that they are not capable of performing in.
I belong to no political party, but my leanings are to the "right"..but let down again on that front!
Over the last few years most of you ...at least those who responded and gave rise to some enjoyable chit-chat ...seem to have enjoyed my take on life (not just at sea), and so I thank you all.
But now.....................I WILL continue with "Olwen" and a few years further. Bryan.
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malcolmfrary

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #503 on: March 10, 2010, 10:09:56 pm »

I've only ever been to sea as a passenger, but, I did spend my working life, sort of, working.  Your description of the buzzword spouting over dressed numpties who get themselves shot up the promotion ladder does sound familiar.  If its as widespread as I suspect, it accounts for many of the troubles of the world.  Was it Parkinson who said that in any large organisation, people get promoted one level beyond their actual ability?  Not that Yorkshireman who liked cricket but disliked emus.  Some other Parkinson. 
There was a story of a new Executive Engineer (sort of a manager a few steps up) who came to a depot to speak unto his new people.  One of the things he said was "....and only a few years ago I was a Technical Officer"  at which a voice from a fairly indefinable point at the back of the room was heard to say "And if tha'd been any good, tha'd still be one".   Pandemonium.
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pugwash

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #504 on: March 11, 2010, 01:50:39 am »

I never realised the RFA were as bad as the RN-  we had a commander as captain of HMS Aisne -
brilliant tactical brain - always knew where the sub would attack from - wouldnt take any rubbish
from the crew but was always first to come to our defence if something went wrong - and it came
to pass he told the CinC Med to F*** off and what did he expect of a 20 year old gunnery system
which was designed to shoot down aircraft flyingat 350 knots and not jets travelling at 1000k
Navies loss he never was promoted - would have made a great admiral.

Pugwash 
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #505 on: March 11, 2010, 04:45:09 pm »

How nice! It looks as if this thread could just about get flying again as us "oldies" come thankfully out of hibernation and just simply pleased to be still of this earth.
Last time I posted anything on the "Olwen" voyage I think I left you half way across the Indian Ocean en-route to Singapore.
Well, of course being well shepherded by our RN "escorts" we did eventually get there. I guess that "someone" has to be in charge of procedure etc; but I can't help wondering why they (RN lot) had to be always so prissy about it. I'll remind you what Sembawang base looks like later on. Over the years I've been to Singapore many times either as a Ben Line cadet, a junior Nav officer with Cable&Wireless and in various capacities with the RFA. And so, over a span of perhaps 35 years got to know the place reasonably well. At least, thats what I thought until SWMBO joined me there. Naturally, it would have been a sort of suicidal act to drag her round some of the places I would (purely by happenstance) generally wind up in. Not alone you understand, but as a member of a group wholly interested in furthering International relationships.
If wives were to be carried at sea we were constrained by statute to a maximum of 12. When permission was given for wives to travel that is. On some voyages that were primarily of the "operational" sort it just wasn't feasible, or even wanted by us. In fact....and dare I mention it....but the majority found the presence of wives aboard at sea to be a bit of a nuisance. Apart from forcing "better behaviour" and so "cramping the style" wives could fall into fairly well defined categories. By the very nature of hubbies job it was inevitable that they were left to their own devices quite a lot. I will expand on this when I get to "Olna" in 1991. Although natural to us crew members, the "rank" structure meant sod all to the wives in general (although there would always be a queen bee who traded on the husbands position). I guess it was ordained somewhere that a ship-borne version of the Womens Institute (shortly to be re-named as "Wild Indians") would be established. Captains wives holding crocheting seminars in the crew bar, POs wives holding forth on the pleasures of running a pub in the Officers bar, and the lot of them just getting "xxxxx" in the POs bar. Quite disconcerting. And "film nights".....a nightmare. Who sits where? Then the poor unaccompanied souls had to rein in their natural tendency to comment on what they were watching. Just as tough, if not more so, for the accompanied ones. Meal times. Another contentious time. Peoples usual seats re-allocated and so disrupting things. It's hard work keeping things going in a regular way when irregularity seems to be the order of the day. And the worst of all was when a wife (or wives) had been aboard too long....and who would be brave enough to tell her to "go forth"? Women have this idea that they can do anything better than a mere man can. It can become like being at home without the escape route to the pub. I may sound a little "anti" about having wives aboard at sea, but what I've just written is condensed....i.e. none of this all happened at once, spread over more than one ship. But a real "biggy" would have to be the toilet/shower facilities. I, in common with all "senior" officers would have a reasonably sized cabin with a 3/4 bed and en-suite facilities. No problem there. But Junior officers, POs and ratings had communal "facilities. So the ships organisation had a choice of 2 routes. One, dedicate a particular space for use of females only, or Two, allocate times when the space would be segregated. Number 2 (a very inapt word to use in this context) was a non-starter due to the vagaries of the ships routine. So a sort of controlled chaos and "casting a blind eye" system sort of evolved. It could still be a bit disconcerting to a 12-4 (a.m) watchkeeper just coming off watch to bump into a hurrying female going to powder her nose. But this could always have a more sinister side.
On one ship (not to be named) but it was either an "OL" or a "New Tide" the accomodation for officer aircrew was together along one alleyway. On this particular run we had no flight but 6 RN officers wives were billetted there. I must have been a second officer then as I was on the 12-4 watch, when a rather distraught young lady appeared on the bridge to report "an odd happening". Going for a nocturnal wee-wee (as one does) to "their" communal facility she was confronted by a very fat person wrapped in the shower curtain and (as the saying is) "playing with himself". I think even I would have been taken aback by that. That person was easily identified and at the next port left us, never to be heard of again. Sort of lowers the tone a bit when that sort of thing happens.
But I'm getting ahead of myself again.....so back to Singapore.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #506 on: March 11, 2010, 08:13:35 pm »

But we were not at sea. Tied up alongside and feeling very weary after a long stand-by, trying to get shot of all the jobs-worths that seem to appear out of nowhere whenever a ship presumes to encroach into their precious bit of water there was the invasion of the WAGS (although that term hadn't been invented then). About 20 of them plus perhaps 10 offspring ranging from 5 to 20 years old. This column may be called "Mayhem", but real mayhem has to be seen and not really appreciated. I finally recognized my other half before she was led off into some sort of crew slavery, gave her a quick peck on the cheek and (as she had been on this class of boat before) told her that I'd see her soon. What a romantic meeting. By the time I'd got back to my (?) cabin all the drawers and the wardrobe had been re-designated to her requirements. All I wanted to do was to "get my head down".....as opposed to ....well, I was tired.
All of the WAGS had flown to Singapore with Emirates ..which had entailed an overnight stop-over in Jordan. There they were treated as potential criminals and sort of "locked in" to a very nice hotel that they couldn't leave. Very odd. But welcome to a part of the world where things are done "differently". The "joint" they were housed in in Singapore was totally different. In fact, and not surprisingly, they all thought it was a damn sight better than the big grey thing they were expected to live in for the next 3 weeks or so. Tough.
But of course, I had another set of visitors to charm.
J.K. Rowling has described her "Auditors" in the Harry Potter books so well that I couldn't add to it. Individually I suppose they were nice guys, I even knew one of them on a social basis, but when the "auditor" hat was donned, well, just lets say the "nice guy" was nowhere to be seen. I guess they had a "guiding light" looking over their shoulders from afar. Although me  and "the team" had suffered and struggled to get things more or less straight, I was ripped to shreds. What a nice beginning to what was supposed to be a nice break with my wife in a far flung land. Basically, I more or less threw my hand in again at this point. If SWMBO hadn't been there I may just have done that.
But the WAGS had other ideas. So us roughty toughty seamen were dragged all over Singapore to "see the sights". I'd never wanted to visit the "Tiger Balm" gardens before, but as it was on the menu I had to dutifully tag along. Other poor bedraggled souls were dragged off to Sentosa for a "Day of Fun". But Singapore can give the canny soul an "out". In mainstream Singapore there are only two occupations for the itinerant traveller. Shopping and eating. Getting to Orchard Road courtesy of the superb system lulls the poor little darlings into a sense of security. They see all these great big emporiums with their escalators and everything and are immediately entranced. Loads and loads of shopping. Then we go to the next one, and a bit of doubt surfaces. Then we go to the next one and it's exactly the same as the other two. Same shops, same products,same prices. Now that some sort of doubt has crept in , I suggest that we go and have a look at "old" Singapore. Beyond the "Sweet River" (what used to be a stinking, rancid and perfectly horrible drain running through the heart of the town (not yet a city) is a maze of really interesting stuff. Originally the streets were sort of divided up in a way that we would find very odd. One street would be full of cabinet makers, the next one would be all Bird cages and singing birds (I got a chunk bitten out of my shoulder here by a parrot, but no compensation exists in Singapore!), another street would be given up to metal workers.....but you get the idea. Trade streets. One trade per street. And it works. SWMBO was fascinated, but even more so when I took her to look at the Karma Sutra tower. Don't women profess ignorance so well?
After that little excursion I suggested a drinky-poo at Raffles. As expected, this was greeted with approval...and so we walked, across a few bridges and into the bottom end of Orchard Road where (then) there was a long stretch of original buildings....and Raffles was about half a mile further on. Poor little mite. In my letters and so on over the years I'd told her that it rains in Singapore at about 4pm every day. OK, she'd forgotten that. But what she hadn't forseen was the sheer intensity of the downpour. The Raffles staff were, as always, very solicitous, and made both of us comfortable in the "Long Bar" where she had a couple of "slings" and chucked a few peanut shells down where others more noteworthy than us had done in the past.
At this time, unknown to me, one of the Navs daughters (the 20 year old) had become severely smitten by a dashing young helicopter pilot. This eventually became an engagement, and a marriage. All very quick. I wonder how it all turened out.
Continue soon.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #507 on: March 16, 2010, 07:46:20 pm »

Karma Sutra Tower? Was that a bar near the Paradiso?

A souvenir of Tiger Balm Gardens.

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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #508 on: March 17, 2010, 04:09:34 pm »

Bryan,

This is really excellent. Not only am I learning a lot but I am also enjoying it and having a few laughs on the way.

I repeat my earlier comment....I really do think there is a book here. Maybe you should find a publisher with a "nautical bent" (excuse me) and send them a few samples.

Your reference to picking oakum takes me back to when as a very junior Inspector of Weights and Measures I was asked to check some scales in a prison where the prisoners were picking oakum and seemed to be producing a small volume picked for the weight it was supposed to be. I found that the crafty so and so's had jammed a large lump of metal under the goods pan so the weight they actually picked was much reduced!

One day I will tell you about weighing the gold raked out of the bottom of the cremation ovens, or weighing raw opium which had melted in flight and seeped between the planks of its crates!

Roger in France.

Roger....As I'm at present trying (being the operative word!) to put all this stuff into a readable sort of book for my son and (mainly) my granddaughter I came across the above post. I don't recall reading story....or has "one day" not arrived yet? Bryan.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #509 on: March 17, 2010, 05:10:35 pm »

Karma Sutra Tower? Was that a bar near the Paradiso?

A souvenir of Tiger Balm Gardens.


Oh, marvelous!!!! I've been searching for dear Floras' grave and epitaph for years now. If it was a bar then I wouldn't be in the least surprised, but nor would I be surprised if she had "modelled" for one of the figures in the enclosed pic. Thank you. Preserved forever in some sort of congress smothered in "Tiger Balm".
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #510 on: March 17, 2010, 06:01:51 pm »

I've only ever been to sea as a passenger, but, I did spend my working life, sort of, working.  Your description of the buzzword spouting over dressed numpties who get themselves shot up the promotion ladder does sound familiar.  If its as widespread as I suspect, it accounts for many of the troubles of the world.  Was it Parkinson who said that in any large organisation, people get promoted one level beyond their actual ability?  Not that Yorkshireman who liked cricket but disliked emus.  Some other Parkinson. 
There was a story of a new Executive Engineer (sort of a manager a few steps up) who came to a depot to speak unto his new people.  One of the things he said was "....and only a few years ago I was a Technical Officer"  at which a voice from a fairly indefinable point at the back of the room was heard to say "And if tha'd been any good, tha'd still be one".   Pandemonium.
Parkinson (a Canadian I believe) also noted that "Work expands to fill the time available"...probably a mantra taken to heart by the present plethora of beaurocrats. BY.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #511 on: March 17, 2010, 06:55:33 pm »

Oh, marvelous!!!! I've been searching for dear Floras' grave and epitaph for years now. If it was a bar then I wouldn't be in the least surprised, but nor would I be surprised if she had "modelled" for one of the figures in the enclosed pic. Thank you. Preserved forever in some sort of congress smothered in "Tiger Balm".

Oh that Karma Sutra Tower! - I always thought that was the Tomb of the Happy Matelot.

Cheers,

Barry M
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #512 on: March 17, 2010, 07:58:53 pm »

Oh that Karma Sutra Tower! - I always thought that was the Tomb of the Happy Matelot.

Cheers,

Barry M
Aren't "clankies" also Matelots? I personally (with reservations) would assume that innovative couplings, joints and flexibility would have been drawn out, discussed and tested to destruction...by a committee. Perhaps thats why engineers always look so pooped out and bedraggled. Lucky sods. All that testing.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #513 on: March 17, 2010, 09:45:36 pm »

Well, we are the Master Race.  %)  O0

Barry M
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MikeK

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #514 on: March 18, 2010, 08:04:48 am »

Anyone notice the 'No Entry' sign in the picture - Ironic or what ? Or is it my weird sense of humour ?


Mike
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #515 on: March 18, 2010, 01:24:45 pm »

Anyone notice the 'No Entry' sign in the picture - Ironic or what ? Or is it my weird sense of humour ?


Mike
That's why I left it in. BY.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #516 on: March 18, 2010, 01:33:34 pm »

As the Actress said to the Bishop?  %)

Barry M
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #517 on: March 20, 2010, 06:56:06 pm »

I make no apologies for putting up this pic again.
This was taken during the 1988 visit when the WAGs were with us. The main Dockyard is off to the left of the pic, but this bit was always called the Stores Basin and was generally full of RN and RFA ships until we pulled out of the area. It’s nice that the Singaporeans haven’t changed things all that much. I would guess on the lines of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
HMS “Triumph” had a more or less permanent berth where the “Edinburgh” is berthed. Cross-ways at the dead end of the basin would be the normal berth for the “Station Tanker” (generally an old “Ranger” class). Where the commercial ship is tied up is the berth the RFA “freighting” tankers came to. “Pearleaf” and so on to top up the tanks visible at the bottom of the pic. I imagine that these were just “ready use” tanks though, and the main storage area was somewhere else unknown to me. Ammo ships went to anchor in the strait just off the basin (the land in the background is Malaya). The RFA is the “Olwen”…looking very small and insignificant in the pic. But she was 660ft long and therefore by no means a “small” ship. The comparison between her and the brute behind her was unbelievable when viewed in the “flesh” as it were.
In previous postings I think I bemoaned the demolition of Sembawang village. Picturesque and all that, but still basically wooden huts and shops…and the home of superb cooking. Also, “the” place to buy rip-off cassette tapes, counterfeit watches and tigers heads painted on black velvet if that was your taste. Now the “locals” live in modern blocks of flats, but many of the women folk still prefer to do their cooking and so on outside with all the other wives. Keeps the village atmosphere alive..so far.
Another, and welcome change is that the monsoon drains that used to be so lethal to unwary pedestrians, cyclists and motorists have now been fitted with perforated steel sheet lids. The fitting of these lids has had (perhaps) an unforeseen side effect. Those of you who have ever heard a fully grown bull-frog roar will know how loud they are.
Sembawang at night was always a noisy place at night from the frogs, but now they live in a man-made amplifier the noise can be deafening.
But local eating out hasn’t totally disappeared. Chong Peng just down the road from Sembawang has to be one of the worlds “must see” places. In what appears to be an old aircraft hangar it’s home to hundreds of food stalls, rats, mice, cats, dogs,bats and humans, all going about their business. Superb. The WAGs had a bit of “a moment” when they were first introduced to the place…but it was either that or go hungry, so they got the message and eventually enjoyed it all.
But the day came when we had to top-up our tanks and prepare to continue the voyage and “show the flag” sort of thing.
All connected up and pumping began….but our gauges showed nothing was happening. Were we pumping into the wrong tank? The diesel was obviously going somewhere, but not where it was supposed to be going. In fact it was being pumped directly into the Avcat tanks. Visions of mass rolling of heads became a nightmare. Until it was worked out that the main “inlet” pipe running through the tanks had fractured, so all the valves were being by-passed. Much scratching of rapidly balding heads ensued. But there was only one thing for it….empty the whole bloody thing out and fix the pipe. The other ships now had to do without their “open all hours” gas station, and fill themselves up hoping that either they wouldn’t run dry or “something” would turn up. So there we sat. It probably took a day or more to pump us out, and another few days blasting “fresh air” into the tanks before any work could begin. This meant going on to 24 hour “watches” for the ships company….or, at least, those who were involved. (The Galley staff, as usual, were exempt). This all played havoc with the domestic arrangements of those who had SWMBOs aboard. The wives seemed to get a sense of freedom from all this hoo-ha and went off in chattering little flocks to parts of Singapore that I don’t know about even until this day.
But all this came to a sort of grinding halt when the pipe was fixed and tested….and the “authorities” decided that we had either been there too long or they wanted the berth for somebody else. Or maybe we were just becoming an embarrassment to them. Who knows. But it was decreed that we would be taken all the way round to JSB (the Johore Shoal Buoy”) well away from any sort of habitation. I think that if “they” could have painted us yellow and declared the ship a plague area they would have been smugly satisfied. Of course, this couldn’t happen as we still had to load our cargo. From “bunkerbarges”. Another 4 or 5 days. Now the WAGs were getting a bit twitchy and ready to go home. And we all just wanted to get away from here.
And so it came to pass. On our way again.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #518 on: March 20, 2010, 06:59:17 pm »

And that, my fellow mayhemmers, is my first successful "cut'n'paste" job...ever! Doesn't half save some time. Cheers. BY.
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Roger in France

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #519 on: March 21, 2010, 07:30:40 am »

Gosh Bryan - a picture of the whole of the British Navy in the same place at the same time!

Those storage tanks at the foot of the picture, do they have green canvas roofs?

Roger in France
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #520 on: March 21, 2010, 02:42:05 pm »

Gosh Bryan - a picture of the whole of the British Navy in the same place at the same time!

Those storage tanks at the foot of the picture, do they have green canvas roofs?

Roger in France
Roger. The tanks certainly look as if theyr'e fitted with some sort of flexible top, but as I've never been on the top of one I couldn't say. Having said that I have seen empty tanks (in the UK) with no top on. But then again, looking again at my pics of South Georgia most of the tanks there seem to have domed steel tops. Pays yer money and takes yer choice I suppose. Bryan.
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sweeper

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #521 on: March 21, 2010, 04:28:39 pm »

Bryan,
Thanks for the many posts in this thread, very enjoyable. I know many of your readers have suggested that you print this saga, it is in a rather similar vein to an excellent work by a another M.N. captain from North Shields - "Before the box-boats". A very good read for anyone interested in the subject.
Re: your last one on Singapore. Things must have changed rather after your visit there. I was informed by a friend who had worked there that the "place" to get dubious stuff (electronics etc) was the Funan Centre. Looks nothing outside, about ten floors inside stuffed with all sorts of nice things. Sadly the law in Singapore had been strengthened on fake stuff, the penalties were already drastic became almost hanging material. Result, you'd be better off in Northumberland Street! Big purge of people doing wrong things, showed it all on local TV as they put everything in a big pit about forty feet long and ran a road roller over it all a few times. One of the many things I personally liked about the place, the law was meant to be followed and they made very certain that everyone was very aware of just what would happen if you didn't.

Please keep the story alive.
Thanks.
   
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #522 on: March 21, 2010, 05:56:03 pm »

Sweeper, nice to hear from you.
Re. this thread I am in fact putting it into a "sort of" book form. But not for general publication. More as a sort of epitaph for later generations of my family to read. Now that we (my generation) have the wherewithall to do something that our forebears would find difficult, even if they were literate,I imagine that most of us have photographs of our parents, grandparents and so on, But in my case, apart from knowing that they were coal miners I know very little apart from the odd half-remembered stories I was tol as a child. It seems to me rather daft not to try and leave something behind. (apart from a dragging bum).
This entire thread in the early stages was meant to be purely and simply an indication to members of this forum who had never been to sea to get a bit of an inkling what it was like "in my day". But one or two posts urging me to write a book got the mind ticking over, so I've gone the "half-way" route. Family primarily. What they want to do with it is up to them.

       You are correct about the Funan Centre. I got a lot of (now outmoded) computer stuff there. I was always (very politely) asked if I wished to buy the "cheap" version or the "expensive" one!
       As far as "rip-off" watches are concerned, I have no problem. A fake watch must be made from the patterns and dies and whatnot sold on by the original manufacturers to a second party, and they really shouldn't yell "foul" when it's all passed on to a third party. All a bit odd. Tapes and CDs are another matter. But during the times I am writing about CDs were a rip-off in their own right. Far too expensive. Now they are cheaper, the counterfeiters aren't there. Now it seems to be fashion, hand-bags and shoes etc.

     I feel a bit guilty that this is such a long response to your short comment, but it struck a couple of nerves and so deserves an answer.
     When I was last in Singapore the "anti-litter" ruling was in full swing (metaphorically) with a $500 fine for dropping a ciggy end on the pavement. Even I, as a smoker, agreed with that. But another, and rather less successful innovation was the governments answer to traffic congestion.This was imported from the New Zealand model that decreed that vehicles with "odd" numbers at the end of the reg. plates could only be driven on "odd" dates.....and vice-verca. But I think that, on the whole, Singapore gets it about right. BY.
       
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #523 on: March 21, 2010, 06:04:15 pm »

Olwen-2.

From my letters home after the Singapore visit I’ve managed to sort of piece together what happened next. “Ah, I remember it well” (sung in a French accent).
The other ships hadn’t gone very far ,mores the pity, but had just stooged around for a few days . The RN does busy stooging very well. So after only a day at sea we’d caught up with them, just the day before “Fort Grange” was to have her Admirals Inspection. And guess which ship had been “nominated” as her playing partner.  So back to “Portland” again. Although it was all ostensibly about the “Grange” it was absolutely knackering for us.
It all began at 0530 when we closed up for flying and embarked the “team” on board from the Ark. Without our knowledge (even a surprise to our Captain) the “powers that be” (on the Ark) had decided to give us an unprepared for going over. "xxxxx".
We even had an unannounced “Action Stations” thing thrown at us, with more smoke bombs used that I’d ever seen at Portland ….even though the use of these things are not recommended (officially) for use on board a tanker with our sort of cargo. The Engine Room fire was particularly exhausting. The only measure of comfort was that the Galley Staff had to be involved with this one as the galley was directly above the Engine Room. Such small-minded smugness was short-lived though as it was then announced that dinner may or not happen, but “if” it did, it would be late and “basic”. Just can’t win sometimes. And all this with the outside temperature in the high eighties with the Air-Con having to be turned off. Still, defence of the Realm and all that.
      The next day didn’t really exist for anyone. It was about 3 days before “things” settled down again…..and another couple of days before all the used “gear” was stowed away, the ship cleaned up and our cabins put back together again.
      Our next stop was to be Subic Bay in the Philipines. Just a short hop from the Singapore area. I’d never been there before, but it certainly wasn’t how I expected it to be. Naturally I sort of assumed it would be “similar” to the USN bases I’d been to in the US. Well, I guess I’d be right if I was thinking in terms of 1942.
(excuse me if I’ve written something like this before, as it seems sort of familiar).
       I wonder if the film “From Here To Eternity” was filmed here?
In the aftermath of our tribulations a few days ago our capability of making fresh water had taken a nose dive to zero. Now, if this had just been water for our own consumption it would have been ignored, but we also transferred the stuff to the smaller warships…and that was a reason to send us ahead to arrive in Subic a day before the others. Goody. I hope it spoiled their “Grand Arrival”. “Fort Grange” and “Edinburgh” more or less said “sod-off” and went to Manila instead. So, apart from the engineers (and shore staff) fixing the water problem, most of us had a day off.
Just about all of you will have heard of the NAAFI organisation that the British services use. The American version is called the PX (Post Exchange). This organisation bears as much similarity as Harrods does to the hot-dog caravan on North Shields fish quay. 3 differently graded restaurants and bars..all good, but dependent on the dress-code, and even had Grand Pianos for sale….apart from everything that could be expected in a John Lewis store. My companion on this “tour” was an RFA Radio Officer who displayed a wonderful and hitherto unknown talent for playing the piano and rapidly gathered a good audience….before we went for a beer.
Then our “rocket” guys re-joined us. Forgotten them?


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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #524 on: March 23, 2010, 03:12:21 pm »



Our rather brief stay in Subic was a bit of a mixed bag. In no particular order I offer some thoughts.
Very few officers but many ratings ventured out of the base into the adjoining “township” that had, over the years, sprung up to provide local workers for jobs within the base…and also to cater for the needs of homesick sailors a long way from Kansas or wherever. Sembawang times 12. A huge difference here was the number of USN Officers who had found a sort of permanent female companion…personally, I think the truth would be closer to “she found him”…all absolutely gorgeous, but suffering from the same limited vocal range of their Indonesian cousins. That is, the only way to talk is in a high pitched yowl that sends dogs running for cover. The USN has since then given the base back to the host country, but I wonder what has happened to all those who depended (in one form or another) on the largesse of the USN people.
I don’t for one moment think I was the only “Brit” to wonder what the RN were thinking when the ships allowed their ships companies to swarm all over this rather staid base (all US bases are..on the surface, at least, models of decorum) dressed in Union Jack shorts and “T” shirts displaying “Englands Invasion Of Germany 1988”..and other quite nasty ones. And they tended to be dirty clothes. I don’t know how they got away with it, but none of the behaviour was much of a credit to the RN. But what’s new. Recall the vandalism I described in South Georgia? The disgraceful behaviour in Djakarta? And this rampaging “mob” also gave a severe beating-up to 2 of our somewhat older ABs (early 30s) just because they were RFA and not RN.
Kind of makes the case for being tied up a long way from them I suppose.

     Our “host ship” was the USS “Berkely”, a destroyer. We had their officers (and concubines) over for a “pub-lunch”. As you know, the USN is “dry”, and the American version of beer is, to put it politely, not the same as the UK version. After a few pints of CSB it was obvious that the good ship USS ”Berkely” wouldn’t be a “zero defect organisation” again for a few days or so. Well, we enjoyed it!

     The host ship for the “Ark” was USS “New Jersey”. She was tied up just in front of us, but to see her in such a WW2 setting was superb.Anachronistic, certainly, but she so suited those surroundings rather than looking a lot “out of place” like “Missouri” did in Sydney when surrounded by “modern stuff”. Oddly enough, in this sort of setting the ship didn’t seem as visually huge as you may expect. OK, they weigh in at around 60,000 tons, but a lot of that weight is armour, and they are very “fat” ships and have a draught around 30ft.
Our Captain was one of the guests at a CTP held on board by the Captain of the battleship, and during the sort of banal chat that goes on in the course of such poodle-faking the USN Captain was bragging about the size of his guns (as Americans tend to do). Just this once, our Captain stored this in his brain for future reference. Short term. When he made his, regrettably sober, way back “home” he had a pow-wow with the boss of our “rocket men”. 
The rocket team worked overnight in darkness to assemble their gear. In the morning the quay was crowded with USN people looking at the back end of what they had assumed was just another “fleet-oiler”. What they saw were six 30ft long “guns”, 2ft in diameter, pointing at 45* up into the sky. The word “flummoxed “ must have been invented just for this. But what most of the spectators didn’t know was this was the reason we were here. 

Before we sailed from Subic the New Jersey had decided to give us and the Ark a demonstration of “live firing” from the big guns. Very impressive,with lots of smoke, a huge amount of noise and then vast columns of water appearing appearing over the horizon about 8 seconds after firing. But it all seemed rather “old fashioned”. There was no “sheets of flame” as happens when the ship gives a PR demonstration. Just smoke, and so not as visually impressive. Also, as we were directly astern of her, the bodily sideways shift of the ship was quite discernable.
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Notes from a simple seaman
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