Vancouver City (3)

Comments from the forum - 3

Fire onboard Vancouver City

A memory has just popped up (as it does these days) and I have it in mind that a ship (possibly the Vancouver City) called into Carrick Roads in Falmouth with the wood products in a hold on fire. Does anyone have any other information about this. The date would have been between 6 and 13 January 1973.
I joined the Vancouver briefly later that month in Amsterdam for a nice ten day stay before leaving on promotion to the Victoria City. David Ricketts. Posted on forum 12 February 2012.

I was 2/E engineer on board that trip. The fire alarm went off at about 12-39.
The fire was in number 3 hold, I think, All CO2 gas was let off, that didn't put the fire out, including the bottle reserved for the engine room. Sometime during the passage about 2 in the morning there was a explosion, lifting the hatch cover and deck cargo about a foot up.
We put into Falmouth where the local fire brigade attended. They wanted the ship alongside to discharge cargo to let them get at the fire. I believe the Harbour Master wouldn't allow it.

We left for Cardiff still on fire, after much discussion between the Fire brigade, the Board of Trade? and RSL, regarding I think the draft, an awful lot of water had been pumped into the ship.
We eventually sailed with five Falmouth fire men aboard. One thing stands out in my mind was the officer in charge had the George Medal or George Cross for saving someone, a really decent chap from Newcastle who had been at one time a third engineer with Clan Line I asked him why he came about to be living Falmouth, he said to get away from his mother-in law, a real character.
On arrival in Cardiff we discharged part cargo, the fire was still not out, we sailed for Antwerp with Cardiff firemen on board we the fire was put out.

There was extensive damage to the hatch coming and other damage. We sailed for Amsterdam where I left the ship.
The old man was Commodore Higgins, the Chief was John Hewson I cant recall the rest of chaps.
I lived next door to the Fire Officer in charge of North Northumberland and he showed me some papers the fire Brigade had written about the fire on the Vancouver City and their conclusions were that the cause was a discarded cigarette
My memory is not as good as it was and maybe some one who was also on board will add and or correct my version. Robert Unthank Bell. Posted on forum 14 February 2012.

Quite correct, Robbie. Mark Higgins told me many years back that the official report stated that a cigarette had been the likely cause of the fire. Mike Jones. Posted on forum 14 February 2012.

I was first trip 2nd mate with on the Vancouver City when she went on fire. The Chief Officer was Malcom Gater also first trip.
When I went to the bridge at 1200 hours I noticed what looked like steam coming from number 2 hold. At the time thought the cargo was drying out. After completing our noon position I rang the fire alarms. Capt Higgins appeared and demanded to know why I rang the alarms during lunch. Then the Serang appeared and said Sahib men eating lunch.
Everybody then went to No 2 hold leaving me on the bridge. After some time I got instructions to get the SCABA but as I pointed out there was nobody on the bridge apart from me. The 3rd mate came and relieved me and I got the SCABA and went to the hold. The master told me to get down the hold to see what was going on. This was impossible as the coaming was red hot.
We got some instructions to move the deck cargo from the hatch cover using the cranes. This was also impossible in the middle of the Atlantic due to rolling.
When the shore fireman boarded in Falmouth they put in high expansion foam. However they could not understand why it would not go in. They had not opened the ventilators at the other end.
Also that voyage the deck cargo shifted and was hanging about 4 feet over the starboard side. John Pearsall. Posted on forum 20 February 2012.

Robbie, as indicated I joined Vancouver in Amsterdam where she dry docked in a floating dock opposite the Central Station. It was bitterly cold and also during the ten days I was there it snowed. Sandy Bruce took over from you as second and I was J4E. Phil Morris 3/E but I have no memory of who was C/E or 4/E. Clancy Collins was 2/O and Phil Julian first trip (with Smiths) 3/0

On a trip ashore for a quiet beer one night we borrowed a bike which held up quite well in the snow from the ferry back to the ship. There was me pedalling, Phil Morris on the handle bars and a deck cadet (name unknown) on the saddle. The bike, though, had seen better days and part way back I couldn't steer the thing which I attributed to Phil being on the cross bar. Little did I know that the frame was disintegrating at the point where the forks went through the frame and we all ended up in the snow. Dave Ricketts. Posted on forum 15 February 2012.

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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