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First Trip Cadet - Just Joined!

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  • First Trip Cadet - Just Joined!

    Actually, I served my time with the P&O Steam Navigation Company from 1961-63, having completed three years training aboard the cadet ship Worcester. Early years at sea were spent in cargo and cargo-passenger ships on the Australian wool run and Far East general cargo (break bulk) trade. I completed my indentures aboard the RMS Strathmore and SS Oriana. Passing for 2nd Mate in London, at the King Edward VII nautical training college in late 1963, I then completed 6 months training as a Sub Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, followed by watchkeeping duties in a Type 12 frigate. Then back to P&O as Fouth Mate of a cargo ship on the Far East run for a year, then to Orcades (Orient Liner) as Senior Fourth Officer. In those days all Orient Liner deck officers held a full Class One Masters Ticket, and as P&O had just amalgamated, we of the P&O were treated as second class junior watchkeepers until the takeover was complete and the ships fully manned by us P&O blokes! Promoted Third Officer, I completed my time for First Mates, which I took at Sir John Cass, London in 1966 - a year over my sea time as P&O found it impossible to find me a relief! Back to the Navy for 6 months, I qualified in conventional submarines at HMS Dolphin, before being appointed to HMS Otus as Fifth Hand. After that, I rejoined P&O as Junior Second Officer of the SS Oronsay, on the Australia and NZ run. As J2/O I was the ship's Navigator and apart from normal watchkeeping duties, tasked with route planning for scheduled voyages one year hence. As these included West Indies and Alaskan cruising, it made for interesting work - but undertaken outside of 12-4 watches, unless on ocean passage, when the Junior Officer of the watch could run the deck. Promoted Second Officer, I stayed in Oronsay for another year, before sitting my Masters Foreign Going at Sir John Cass in 1969. Returning to P&O after another stint in submarines, I was appointed Second Officer of SS Chusan, then promoted First Officer at the tender age of 27! On completion of the Chusan 1971-72 World Cruise, visiting 64 ports of call, we were advised that the ship was to be scrapped in Taiwan and my next berth was to be as Chief Officer of the new building Spirit of London, sailing out of Miami on West Indies cruises. Faced with that awful spectre - I promply resigned and joined the Royal Naval College Greenwich for the long nuclear submarine course, passing out in January 1973 and joining the nuclear hunter-killer HMS Valiant. In 1974 I worked in Norway with Norcontrol, on the first computerised merchant ship project, before joining the staff at Plymouth Polytechnic, School of Maritime Studies, lecturing in electronic navigation and researching my thesis on the deep diving submarine's application to the offshore oil and gas industry. On completion, I joined InterSub of Marseille, France, eventually operating 11 manned subs and five support ships. My first ship was the Jacques Cousteau - designed deep diving support ship 'Le Nadir'. As Chef de Mission, my job was to run the operation of a deep diving submarine engaged on offshore oil and gas missions in the Norwegian Sea, on behalf of Elf and Statoil. I then spent time as submarine operations Manager, all over the world, particularly the Med, Middle East and off Newfoundland and Labrador. 1982 found me recalled to the Royal navy, for the Falklands War, where I served as commander on the Task Force Commander's Staff, with responibility for STUFT - Ships Taken Up From Trade. On completion, the Navy extended my tour of duty and I joined the post-Falklands Operations Evaluation Group. From 1983-1992 I was involved with Amphibious Warfare, commanding a number of requisitioned merchant Ro-Ro ferries and passenger ships involved with NATO Northern Flank Operations - after all, it was still the Cold war! My day job was as Head of International Naval Sales and Marketing with the Plessey Company, where I worked until the company was taken over by GEC.
    I am a Founder member and elected Fellow of the Nautical Institute and a Freeman of The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum. That's a very interesting and long career! What do you do now that you're retired?


    • #3
      Bugs me about gill-jets! (Nick here is in fact a family friend, I was telling him about the forum the other night and suggested he came and had a look )


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      • #4

        You're very welcome to the forum!

        Your varied career is one we can all aspire to and I'm sure it's given you some absolutely wonderful experiences. We'd be honoured if you were to share them with us.

        SS Oriana is well remembered by many of the passengers on today's MV Oriana. Do you remember the Golden Cockerel?

        Hello! I'm Chris. I'm away a lot so I'm sorry if it takes me a while to reply to messages, but I promise I'll get back to everyone. If it's urgent, please email me directly at [email protected].

        Need books, Flip Cards or chartwork instruments? Visit!


        • #5
          Incredible, what an introduction and what a career! I'm very jealous of the Submariner time, I'd love to experience a trip with the RN down in the murky depths.


          • #6
            Amazing how much I still manage to cram into my day - even though I'll be 70 in September. I run a local Jobs Club, helping locally unemployed find work - put together their CVs and letter-writing etc. Also updating my Plymouth thesis on the evolution of the deep-diving manned submersible - a great deal of new technology has evolved in the last 40 years! I also design web pages and run them for friendly local companies - and help my eldest son with his marquee hire and events management business. All-in-all, I keep pretty active!


            • #7
              Submarines aren't what they used to be! The demise of the cosy conventional, diesel electric boat, led to the high tech underwater world of a nuclear submarine, that produces more oxygen and fresh water than a man needs! O-Boats (Oberon Class) were a great escape for me from the starched and somewhat stuffy atmosphere of a main line P&O passenger ship. Also, it was a great relief to get away from all those ladies! But now, I hear that women are to be allowed to serve in submarines! Modern bow, flank and integrated towed-array sonar and external low-light TV systems have produced an ops room and combat system more akin to the flight deck of a Star Trek spaceship - and with an atmosphere so pure and antiseptic, that a first gasp of fresh air, on opening up the hatches, makes you gag at the salty, fishy taste! Mini-subs are much nicer - at least you can look out through a viewport and play around with the external light arrays until you see something lurking on the seabed!


              • #8
                The old Oriana held the Golden Cockerel as the fastest ship in the P&O-Orient fleet - Canberra having been plagued with engine problems when she first entered service and consequently having to run at reduced speed. In Oriana, we used to steam at around 28 knots, but could manage 31 with a fair wind and sea! With the demise of all the steam-powered fast liners, and the advent of multiple diesels, the Golden Cockerel passed to Canberra as she could still manage a reasonable turn of speed! As I recall, it was a large metal silhouette of a cockerel on a pole - probably fabricated by ship's engineers. The old Oriana was not a particularly happy ship in the early 1960s as her captain was a rather pompous Orient Line Commodore type, who clearly resented us P&O chaps soiling his well scrubbed teak decks! He had a particular dislike for cadets! In those far-off days, all Orient Line deck officers held Class One Masters Certificates, which they had obtained in various other companies. Colliding with a US aircraft carrier, the USS Kearsage, off San Diego, in thick fog, was a major diversion however - particularly as the two ship's cadets were manning the true and relative motion radars!


                • #9
                  Gill Jets were built by Samuel Whites of Cowes and I had one installed aboard the French flag Nadir manned-submarine support ship in order to manouvre the ship without props turning, chewing up the towline and tuggers and generally causing havoc during hairy launch and recovery operations. Obliged to launch and recover in up to sea state seven, the omni directional gill jet allowed me to control the ship, making a decent lee if required etc. With a 30 tonne sub swinging off the A-frame, it saved my bacon on numerous occasions in northern Arctic waters!