My first three trips
after leaving The 'Vindicatrix' Training Ship in 1958 were on the 'Sylvania'
a 22 thousand tonne, Cunard, Liner travelling to Greenock, Quebec and
I served as the
Quartermaster's Peggy in their mess situated forehead...
I gained my steering
certificate by steering the Sylvania across the Atlantic Ocean for 10 hours;
at the tender age of 16 years...
Another duty was being
on watch on the bridge and operating the radar scanner... the main task
being to detect icebergs...
We were delivering
a cargo of Copra and the Bulkheads were literally covered in Copra
The 'Ascanius' was built
in 1950 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7692grt, a length of
487ft, a beam of 62ft 4in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. She was built
for Ocean Steam Ship Co. where she remained until 1972 when she was
transferred to Elder Dempster Line and renamed Akosombo. In the
following year she returned to Blue Funnel with her former name but
ownership was changed to China Mutual Steam Navigation Co. In 1976 she was
sold to Saudi-Europe Line Ltd and renamed Mastura and on 4th April
1978 arrived at Blyth where she was broken up by Hughes Bolckow Ltd.
(Photo: John Clarkson Collection)
Antenor (Blue Funnel)(History)
This was the ship in
which I first sailed to Singapore/Hong Kong/Japan. I was fortunate to be
Hong Kong for Christmas 1959 and then I sailed for Singapore were I spent
New Year's Eve/Day 1959/60... I got my first tattoo in Hong Kong for 5
Hong Kong Dollars - (6 shillings Sterling - 30p today) - You could buy 4
ounces of tobacco on the ship, in those days, for 4 shillings or 200
Woodbine cigarettes for 6 shillings... more
This was the ship in
which I made my first trip to Hamburg in 1959... We sailed on 30th September
1959 and arrived back on 14th October 1959...
We spent a week in St
The wages were 9
shillings and a penny per day -total wages were 6 pounds, 16 shillings and
3d; overtime for the whole time was 5 pounds and ten shillings; 9 shillings
and a penny for one Sunday at sea with a days leave in lieu and 4 shillings
subsistence... total earnings £12-19-4 less deductions for beer of £3-16-3
and 3 weeks National Insurance @ 5 shillings and fivepence a week -
left me with £9-3-1 - a lot of dough for a sixteen year old kid in those
Of course a seaman had
to work for 56 hours per week - that was 7 days of two four hour watches -
overtime was hours worked after the first 56...
OFF. No. 182403
This was probably the
worst vessel out of the British Isles for rolling... she always seemed top
heavy... Only thing I could keep down were the tasty tab-nabs we had at
I signed articles on
this vessel, as a Junior Ordinary Seaman, at The Merchant Marine office in
Cornhill, Liverpool on 8th February 1960... We sailed to St John's
Halifax, Newfoundland and then Boston in the States... apart from the
little ammunition dumper I sailed in a couple of years later - it was the
worst journey of my life... I saw many a seasoned sailor turn green during
that 24 day trip... The Captain died on the way out and we left his
body at Halifax... we returned for his body after sailing from Boston, he
was kept in number one hatch, which was pretty spooky when standing
'lookout' watch on the Focs'l Head...
My wage was £21-7-6
per month, so I earned £17-2- for the trip... I received £12-1-6 overtime
(after the standard 56 hour week) We spent 2.5 Sundays at sea which earned
me an extra £1-15-8 plus 10 shillings for subsistence (4 shillings per
day): total earnings £31-9-2...
I received an advance
wage of two pounds and ten shillings when signing up.
Outgoings where 4
shillings pension fund, 16 shillings income tax, Union Contributions of
8/- which was four weeks at 2 shillings per week... National Insurance
contributions were 4 weeks at 5 shillings and fivepence per week
(£1-1-8)... bar bill (beer) £2-2-8) cash received for shore leave 7 pounds
eleven and 5 pence (in US Dollars)
The Empress of Britain