Welsh City (2)

Broken main engine crankshaft. Part 2.

Messages were sent to Cardiff and a tug was dispatched from the US to tow the ship to Long Beach. The tug Star Crescent arrived to take the tow on 4th July and even now nearly 50 years on I still remember the event on that date. After 10 days under tow we arrived at the repair dock and as it was a Saturday morning there were many small pleasure boats many of whom did not seem to realize we had an anchor chain between the two vessels.
Arthur Thompson and a senior engineer from Doxford’s attended. They had hoped to put through long bolts to secure it back in position and then weld it together, but as it was twisted this was not possible.
The whole part of the crankshaft forward of the No.2 main bearing was then cut off using oxy/acetylene.

The engine was then rebuilt so that it ran on three cylinders. The older amongst us will have sailed with the three cylinder Doxfords, but in this case the engine was out of balance as the timing was set up for 4 cylinders.
A condition was applied by Lloyds where the ship had to have tugboat assistance arriving/berthing/shifting/sailing every port, i.e. treated as a “Dead Ship” because of the M.E. manoeuvring problems.
After 12 days for the repairs and after engine trials we continued on the way to Japan to discharge the sugar. The ship then went lightship to Fremantle to load grain for the UK.
The Suez Canal was closed at that time due to the Suez war so we had to call in at Capetown for bunkers. The ship was south of Port Elizabeth and traveled down the coast to Capetown. This is when it encountered a heavy head swell, and the engine did not have enough power to overcome the swell. Despite adjusting the engine controls we were losing power and the engine room started filling with smoke and fumes. The master then took the decision to turn the ship around and proceed back up the coast with the swell. Turning the ship around  was difficult and the ship was rolling violently as we did this. The C/E, J2E, and myself were holding each other on to the controls. If the engine had stalled it could have been disastrous. Eventually the man oeuvre was completed and the vessel proceeded slowly up the coast in the wrong direction until the sea conditions improved.

Messages were sent to head office, and Arthur Thompson was sent out to join us in Capetown and return with us to the UK. After bunkering in Capetown we waited a day for the arrival of Arthur and then the ship proceeded to the UK.
We had been hoping for one easy port for discharge as we had problems with maneuvering the engine, but the discharge ports were confirmed as Belfast and London.

It seemed the impression in the office that it was not necessary for the vessel to have turned around off the South African coast, and that we should have continued. When we sailed from Belfast we went out into gales in the Irish Sea, and we then encountered similar problems with the engine not having sufficient power, and the engine room started filling with smoke. Arthur was the first up on the bridge to suggest to the captain that we head for shelter in the Bristol Channel. The subject was never mentioned again.
After completion of discharge at the second port the ship was taken to Sunderland for the crankshaft to be repaired, and we paid off on 15th December 1961.

Voyage details. May 25 sail from Belfast. June 6 arr Vita, Cuba to load bagged sugar, June 18 sail for Japan,  June 19/20 bunkered at Kingston, Jamaica.  June 22 arr Cristobal,  June 23 sail Balboa,  June 26 0700 hrs Crankshaft fractured, July 4 taken in tow by tug “Starcrescent”,  July 15 arr San Pedro,  July 27 sail for Japan,  August 6 Bunkered Honolulu, Aug 22 arr Yokohama anchorage,  Aug 27 berthed Yokohama,  Aug 31 sail for Osaka,  Sept 2 Arr Osaka,  Sept 5 shift to Kobe,  Sept 7 berth Kobe,  Sept 13 Sail for Australia,  Oct 3 Arr Fremantle,  Oct 6 Sail for Belfast,  Nov 1 Arr Capetown,  Nov 3 Sailed Capetown,  Nov 20 Arr Belfast Lough,  Dec 1 Berthed Belfast,  Dec 3 Sail fore London,  Dec 7 Arr London,  Dec 14 Sail for Sunderland,  Dec 15 arr Sunderland.  F.W.E

I went home on leave for Christmas and then rejoined the vessel just before repairs were completed. I stayed on that ship for 23 months and then went back to South Shields for my 1st class certificate. Eric Poingdestre with additional details by Tony Lightfoot.

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