Australian City

Comments from the forum - 3

Some of the Ships Nolstalgia enthusiasts amongst us may recall that there was a photo posted recently on SN which actually showed the famous incident when in April 1912, as 'Titanic' departed Southampton on her 'never to be completed' maiden voyage, the displacement of water snapped the moorings of another passenger ship, the Inman Liner 'New York', pulling her towards Titanic and very close.
This was as a result of what is termed as hydrodynamic attraction, suction or displacement but also is a well known phenemon in pilotage and known as the canal effect where when two ships, one much larger than the other, are passing very close by in shallow water, the smaller ship is almost magnetically dragged into the other. In the incident of 1912, there was no actual collision but apparently Titanic was delayed for almost an hour before finally sailing.

It reminded me of where I had been in a similar situation on the 'Australian City', now so many years ago. We were in Long Beach and I would say it was January 1967, we were loading grain but also half the officers were being changed over. In the interim period of reducing the voyage times RSL had us on 12 month trips at the time and half the officers would be changed every 6 months or so. This time Capt (Gentleman) George Harvey had finished his trip and was being replaced by Idris Williams, plus half the officers and apprentices

Anyway this may well have been on the afternoon of the changeover, I had been on the ship for 6 months or so and had just become Senior apprentice and one of the other apprentices, (big) Pat Rafferty from Hereford (a good bloke) was with me working on deck somewhere near No. 1 hatch. The then large US flag Tanker 'Manhattan' (90000 tons), also loaded with grain left her berth and as she passed she started her engine and straight away we got pulled off the berth. We didn't have the self tensioning winches of the later 840 ships and maybe our lines were slightly slack as a result of our continued loading. Anyway our lines started parting with a snap at both bow and stern and we were pulled off the berth, very rapidly.
Pat and I realised together what was happening and we jumped up to the focscle where we found all our head lines and springs except one had snapped straightaway. Well, it was very hard work but with that one headline we carefully held onto that rope and tended on the bitts as the ship was being pulled off the wharf, the polyproplene rope was being heavily chafed and even burnt into square sections by the friction on the bitts so we had to slack off here and there as well as trying to check her movement. It was quite a heavy fight between us the momentum of the ship
All the stern ropes had gone and the stern was coming way off, this was finally sorted by a tug which had been assisting 'Manhattan' pushing us hard back alongside. Prior to that the ship came off quite a way but then we managed to check it and hold it at the bow. By that time the Mate Pete Burroughs had come charging up the deck and he helped us get it under control. When the sideways movement was stopped and with assistance of the tug pushing our stern, we managed to get the rope on the windlass drums and we started to haul her back in. I still recall that the grain elevator was still pumping grain into what was then the dock water between us and the dock as they couldn't shut the elevator off in time.

To cut a long story short, we eventually managed to get her alongside, tied up and resumed cargo loading. Pat and I felt that we had done a good satisfying seamanlike job hanging on to that one rope and this was confirmed later when we knocked off for the day and the Mate came with a case of beer for both of us saying it was from the Old Man and him. Good old RSL seamanship training I think

Incidentally the next time I saw the Manhattan was a year or two later she was still on the grain trade and was discharging at bouys in Madras, I think I was on Eastern City and we were loading iron ore by 1 ton buckets. Alongside 'Manhattan'were several barges and also the British flag ship 'Sea Captain' of Vergocean shipping and known to us as the ex 'Fresno City'.
I distinctly remember some of her officers coming over to us, they were not a happy bunch as they had been solely trading round the Indian coast, doing lightening duties, in a non-air conditioned ship for something like 19/20 months and still had a couple of months to go under the old 2 Year articles.
Long time ago, but still vivid in my memory. Graham Mapplebeck. Posted on Forum 18 March 2017..

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