Australian City

Comments from the forum - 1

I joined the Australian City as 3rd Eng. In October 1964. The ship was fitting out in Govan at the Fairfield Rowan yard. Reg Russel was the 4th Eng. He and I spent the next 6 weeks chasing around the ship getting to know where everything was and checking details as required by the Superintendent (Alastair Gray) and Chief Engineer. The Chief was Tadeuz Sukienik, 2nd Wynn Evans. There was no electrician at that time. Chief Off. was Mike Thomas. The 2nd Mate was Brian Jones and 3rd Mate Ralph (Woody) Woodward, R.O. Dick Gibbons.

Reg and I stayed at the merchant navy hotel. It was a bit basic but had the advantage of being in the city centre. We had a few good evenings touring the local watering holes during our stay there.

I knew I was going to enjoy the trip when the main engine was started up with the shaft uncoupled and run on the governor. I harked back mentally to my previous experiences with the Doxford / Aspinall governor and thought “this looks a bit more like it”. This was an RD Sulzer and proved to be a good runner. Another good point was Ruston generators instead of the Bellis & Morcom stone crushers.

Eventually the ship was drydocked in the Firth of Clyde drydock prior to being handed over.
All the team was assembled by then and from memory was as follows:

Master: Danny Lloyd, C/Off: MGB Thomas, 2nd Mate: Brian Jones, 3rd Mate: Ralph Woodward, R/Off: Dick Gibbons, Ch/Steward John Louden,
Ch/Eng: Tadeuz Sukienik, 2nd/Eng: Wynn Evans, Daywork 2nd/Eng: George Probert, 3rd/Eng: R. Shannon, 4th Eng: Reg Russell, Eng/Cadet: Rod Fawkes.
Electrician: Jimmy Mc’Claren,
Junior Engineers: Peter Turnbull & ?? Smith. Smith was a Scotsman from the channel Islands. (A.K.A. Mc’Graw)
Deck Cadets: Roger Cruttenden, Tex Russel, Dickie Addis, AN Other from Hull.

We sailed light ship for Baton Rouge to load grain. The weather wasn’t wonderful but the ship handled it well. After loading we sailed for Amsterdam to discharge. We arrived and berthed late evening and finished with engines about 22.00. Naturally there were a few celebration drinks before turning in.
Next day was not so happy. Wynn Evans had a stroke during the night and was hospitalised.
However life carried on and Eric Poingdestre joined as 2nd Eng. Unfortunately the shore gang cracked on with the discharge and we sailed on Christmas Eve late evening.

Our next port was Vitoria, Brazil, to load iron ore for Japan. That was a long passage around the Cape of Good Hope, must have been 5/6 weeks. Then when we arrived in Japan they discharged us in about 2 days. We sure as hell weren’t used to that. However our next cargo was coal from Sydney to Japan. That was a great stay in Sydney. Three days alongside circular quay and then shift to Balmain for a week loading.

Prior to us leaving circular quay Eng Cadet Rod Fawkes (a budding photographer) was detailed to Sydney Harbour bridge armed with cameras to take pictures of the ship as she moved. He did a good job.

Then came a pleasant 10 day recovery passage to Jap
an before discharging. We began to realise that a fairly quick turnaround in Japan was going to be the norm with three days being the maximum. It wasn’t a bad life with the ship being air conditioned and well appointed. We began a routine of runs for coal from Newcastle NSW to Japan interspersed with iron ore from Pulu Bukum in Malaysia. We loaded from barges about 10 miles offshore, taking about 10 days. Roger Shannon. Posted on Forum June 16 2009


I joined the Australian in Mormugoa in 1965 relieving Michael Barclay Thomas as Chief Officer. This was her first crew change from new and as a consequence, many of the Officers elected to remain for a further trip.The O.M. was Danny Lloyd, 2/O Brian Jones 3/o Ralph Woodward c/E Sukienik and Roger Shannon 3rd Eng. One of the remaining chaps was a Cadet called Cruttenden. He was the bain of MGBTs life and apparently had led him a merry chase!! With my well established man management skills, I found the lad quite willing and pliable!! "Woody" can tell some amusing tales about this lad!!
It wasn't what one would call the cruise of a lifetime- plodding between Goa and Japan, and memories of hanging over the side trying to measure the freeboard in a four foot swell usually ended up with a well drenched rear end and figures plucked out of the sky!! John Cann. Posted on Forum June 9 2009


Good to get back in touch after nearly 45 years!
I think either Brian Jones or me took the group photo (as John Cann is in the picture one of us must have been on watch) and can identify the subjects as follows (l to r):
Mick Stevens (app),Peter Turnbull (4/E),Eric Poindestre(2/E),Pat Lewis (app),Roger Shannon (3/E)
Roger Cruttenden (app),John Foster (Jun/E),John Towning (Sup'n'my 2/E),John Cann (C/O),
Carlos Villa-Landa (E/E)...and on the deck Dick Gibbons (R/O) and John Louden (Ch/St).
In the other picture are Mick Stevens, Dick Gibbons and Pat Lewis.
Over the years I have been fortunate in re-establishing contact with John Cann, Roger Shannon and of course through this forum yourself but over time none of the others. I did meet Pat Lewis (I think he was a first tripper on the 'Australian City') when he visited Newcastle NSW as 2/O on the 'Atlantic City' in early 1970s. Ralph (Woody) Woodward.
Posted on Forum June 23 2009

Disclaimer: The statements on this page are the views of the person who posted them on the forum. The events took place many years ago and in most cases rely on those people's memories, and so we cannot guarantee the accuracy although every effort is made to check it.


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