Wellington Branch – October Meeting

The fourteen members  who attended the lunch meeting today would have been more than just entertained by speaker Chris King, past Chairman of the Russian Convoy Club.

Chris’s talk about his real life experiences when he sailed on a corvette (HMS Bluebell) protecting merchant ship convoys from the UK to the north Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel was a tale of fortitude and endurance under extreme weather conditions in very primitive shipboard surroundings.

The ships carrying war materiel to Russian allies, were formed into convoys to make, according to Winston Churchill, “ the worst journey in the world “. 

Supporting pictures clearly illustrated how protection was given to the merchant ships by the surrounding warships. The effect of sub-zero temperatures in covering vessels superstructures with ever thickening ice. The exposure of those in these prevailing weather conditions  having to navigate in open bridges. The weather was constantly atrocious.

There were constant aircraft and U Boat attacks from bases in occupied Norway. Dependent on the time of year and the ice-line the convoy went north or south of Iceland and Bear Island. Inevitably the loss of lives and vessels bore heavily on the minds of those who survived this lesser publicized campaign.

It was interesting to hear how, depending on the destination port, how seafarers were received by the locals. In Murmansk a suspicious reception contrasted with the very welcome reaction experienced in Archangel.

Chris’s talk was delivered expertly and at times with emotion. The voyage after he left her “Bluebell” was sunk.

In a world where superlative adjectives are slowly being devalued, at over 96 years old Chris represents as we know it, a man of awesome experience and a real legend.


At a committee meeting held after to-days gathering it was confirmed that our end of year Christmas Lunch will be held at the Bolton on Wednesday 14th November.

Wives, partners and friends all welcome. Further details will be circulated later this month.

Ken Watt


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Auckland Branch – October Meeting

Remuera Club 11 October 2018 at 1830 (bar open from 1800)

An invitation has also been extended to Marine Engineers.

So come along and meet up with old shipmates.

Please respond to Ben Johnson (bmjohnson@xtra.co.nz)


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In collision with US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald 56 nautical miles SW of Yokosuka 16 Jun 2017. Ar Yokohama 19 Jun. Sd 25 Jun.

09 MAY 2018 London, May 9 — A press report, dated today, states: The U.S. Navy officer Lt. j.g. Sarah Coppock who pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty on Tuesday, in the collision of destroyer USS Fitzgerald with fully cellular containership ACX Crystal that killed seven sailors last year, was sentenced to receive half-pay for three months and a letter of reprimand. The plea was the result of an agreement between the officer and military prosecutors before a special court-martial was supposed to begin at the Navy Yard in Washington. Coppock was the officer of the deck at the time of the collision. Coppock reportedly said, she made some tremendously bad decisions and the victims paid the price.

WED, 09 MAY 2018 London, May 9 — A press report, dated today, states: A junior Navy officer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to her role in last year’s deadly collision involving destroyer USS Fitzgerald and fully cellular containership ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan that killed seven sailors. On Tuesday’s hearing, the officer entered a guilty plea to a charge of “dereliction in the performance of duties through neglect contributing to the deaths” of the seven sailors. The officer acknowledged that, in violation of the commanding officer’s standing orders and navigation rules, she had failed to communicate with the ship’s Combat Information Center, did not report ship contacts with the commanding officer and did not alert the ship’s crew of an imminent collision. During questioning from the presiding judge at Tuesday’s special court-martial, the officer admitted that in violation of the commanding officer’s order, she had not contacted him whenever a ship sailed within 6,000 yards of the destroyer.

In New Zealand 2 years and 3 months after a cruise ship with over 600 passengers touched the bottom just inside the entrance to Tory Channel the official report has been released. Its main point that the bridge team had no common or agreed understanding of the plan for the ship to make a turn into Tory Channel and therefore the bridge team monitoring the ships progress was set to fail.

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Incorporated by Royal Charter, we are a City of London Livery Company with membership open to British and Commonwealth Master Mariners from the Merchant and Royal Navies.

The Honourable Company of Master Mariners was founded by Sir Robert Burton-Chadwick, Bt  in 1926.

Sir Robert Burton-Chadwick, 1st Baronet (20 June 1869 – 21 May 1951) was a shipping magnate and an English Conservative Party politician.

Chadwick was born at Oxton, Cheshire,[1] the son of Joseph Chadwick, being baptised with the name of Robert Chadwick. He was head of the shipping firm of Chadwick and Askew, of London and Liverpool and was eventually Director of Chadwick, Weir and Company, of London.

Chadwick served with the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry in the Second Boer War from 1900 to 1901. During World War I, he became an Honorary Captain in the Hospital service of Royal Naval Reserve. He was decorated with the Royal Humane Society certificate for saving life.

Chadwick was elected as M.P. for Barrow in Furness in 1918 and in 1922 took the seat of Wallasey which he held until 1931. He held membership of a number of political organisations associated with the right of the Conservative Party, notably the British Fascists and the Middle Class Union.  He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade between 1924 and 1928.

Having been knighted in 1920,  he was created a baronet, of Bidston in the County Palatine of Chester on 3 July 1935.   He changed his name by deed poll to Robert Burton-Chadwick in 1936.[5]

From 1940 to 1947 he was Counsellor to the British Embassy at Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Chadwick married Catherine Barbara Williams, daughter of Thomas Williams, in 1903. Their eldest son Noel was killed in action serving with the Royal Air Force in 1941. His second son Peter Robert became 2nd Baronet on the death of his father in Westminster registration district aged 81 in 1951.

Peter Robert Burton- Chadwick served with New Zealand forces in North Africa during the war and moved to New Zealand after the war and was living in Lower Hutt with his second wife and two children. He died in 1983 and is buried at Auckland.

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Auckland Branch – Newsletter

August 2018

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MIND IN NEUTRAL Michael Grey from Lloyds List 03 August 2018

Why on earth do well-found ships, properly manned by certificated officers and crews, manage to run aground or collide, in circumstances that seem to defy rational explanation?

There seems little excuse, in an era when circling satellites provide all the positioning data those on board a ship might need.

It was understandable in the days of dead reckoning and before the all-seeing eye of radar. But the equipment on a modern ship, if properly set up and diligently used, ought to make such casualties impossible.

It is by no means an original suggestion, but may the versatility and capability of the equipment itself contribute to the human navigator, or engineer for that matter, just losing concentration?

And then, when an unforeseen hazard occurs, failing to put a mind that is coasting along in neutral, back into an operational gear? If we are relegating a ship’s officer, who has probably passed all sorts of statutory examinations, to the role of a mere overseer of smart machines, how can an intelligent person remain focused?

More years ago than I care to remember, when I was serving an apprenticeship at sea, we were forced to relieve the quartermaster on the wheel for a two-hour stretch from 0600 hrs every morning. Quite what it was supposed to teach us I cannot recall, other than patience and fortitude, as it was one of the most mind-numbingly boring jobs you could imagine on a deepsea passage.

Just keeping the wretched ship on course, half-asleep and looking forward to a large breakfast, was a real challenge of concentration. The occasional sarcastic question from the Second Mate, looking up from his star calculations, to find the ship falling off the course and the gyro ticking away reproachfully, was a reminder that I really was not cut out for the job.

“Trying to write your name in the sea, Grey?” It is why automatic steering machinery was invented.

Vigilance and attention are important qualities. Those involved in search and rescue operations are regularly relieved from their visual or radar lookouts because it is known concentration wanes after about 20 minutes. It is the same with air traffic control operators, whose lapse in attention could be fatal. Maybe we should learn from these roles.

There is a debate about whether the “driver-assist” features on the latest high-end road vehicles are too clever for their own good, easing the job of driving to such an extent that concentration lapses. Anyone with half a brain, who is not making or selling cars for a living, can see this problem a mile off.

Devices that ought to be banned

One can only hope that before too many people meet an untimely end on our roads, something may be done about this, because anything that distracts the driver from the main task of keeping the car safe is potentially lethal. It ought also to divert our regulators from their current enthusiasm for “driverless” vehicles, before too much taxpayers’ money is shovelled into this fatal project.

Devices that minimise the need for concentration, permitting the mind to wander and even to become engaged on other tasks, ought to be banned, whether we are talking about a “self-driving” truck or a large ship with equipment that removes all the actual work from sentient human beings aboard.

Initially, automation on land or sea was regarded as wholly positive, as it removed the need for people to be engaged in boring, repetitive work that they probably could not do as well as a machine.

The people could be doing something more useful. But on the bridge or machinery space of a ship, if the watchkeepers have to be there, they are better engaged with the main task of navigating and collision avoidance, and not relegated to “long stop”, overseeing the equipment that is doing all the work and intervening only when it breaks down.

Casualty after casualty reveals the person whose attention might have averted the incident was either suffering from a wandering mind, or possibly even asleep, as there was little to keep them awake in this supine role of overseer.

Casualty investigators often cite “complacency”, but I would suggest that a “mind in neutral”, lulled into a semi-comatose state of non-intervention is as often to blame.

What is the point of this equipment, with its need for frequent updates, its cost and complexity, if it contributes to this state of “operator” non-involvement? Might actual practice demonstrate the negatives outweigh the positives?

You will not get any of the clever folk developing and manufacturing this equipment to admit this, because they energetically lobby the International Maritime Organization to persuade it that fitting their latest all singing, all dancing gizmo should be made mandatory.

I recall a friendship of many years with a chief sales manager of navigational equipment being somewhat strained when I suggested he should wire up watchkeepers to electrodes and give them electric shocks to keep them concentrating, such were the tasks his latest “integrated navigator” was removing from their roles.

I suggest the rule makers ought only to listen to those who actually run ships for a living before letting the manufacturers into the IMO building. But I doubt that this will happen.

Unlike those people at sea, trying to stay awake and focused, the vested interests never lose their concentration.

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Collisions in Suez Canal

Collisions in Suez Canal

Taken from Lloyds List 18 July 2018

It is not yet clear in full detail what happened, and how, in Suez Canal, probably later more details will come up. It was a major accident, which involved 5 ships and blocked the Canal. It seems like not only vessels are to blame for mayhem, but Canal management also. One disabled ship in Canal shouldn’t lead to multiply collisions and general chaos.

The mess in southern section of Suez Canal near Suez was unleashed by container ship AENEAS, which while proceeding in southbound convoy on Jul 15, suffered engine failure and stopped, causing collision of three bulk carriers PANAMAX ALEXANDER, SAKIZAYA KALON and OSIOS DAVID, as they weren’t able to stop or maneuver. All ships reportedly sustained damages and were taken apart alongside Canal with the help of tugs. It wasn’t yet the the end of the story – later NYK Post-Panamax container ship NYK ORPHEUS struck PANAMAX ALEXANDER, collision inflicted damages on both ships.

As of 0300 UTC Jul 17, NYK ORPHEUS, PANAMAX ALEXANDER, OSIOS DAVID and SAKIZAYA KALON were still in Canal. AENEAS was under way in Red sea, continuing her voyage.
PANAMAX ALEXANDER, OSIOS DAVID and SAKIZAYA KALON were taken back north and anchored in Great Bitter Lakes, their transit interrupted NYK ORPHEUS seems to be able to continue her voyage to Rotterdam.
Traffic in Canal is resumed.

Container ship AENEAS, IMO 9426790, dwt 63059, capacity 5090 TEU, built 2010, flag HK, manager Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd.

Bulk carrier PANAMAX ALEXANDER, IMO 9233492, dwt 74247, built 2001, flag Cyprus, manager Cyprus Sea Lines.

Bulk carrier SAKIZAYA KALON, IMO 9749908, dwt 81691, built 2017, flag WISDOM MARINE LINES SA, Taiwan.

Bulk carrier OSIOS DAVID, IMO 9593361, dwt 55831, built 2012, flag Marshall Islands, manager AM NOMIKOS TRANSWORLD MARITIME, Greece.

Container ship NYK ORPHEUS, IMO 9313008, dwt 14525, capacity 9120 TEU, built 2008, flag Panama, manager NYK Line.’

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Wellington July Meeting

There were fifteen attendees at today’s monthly meeting Including Captain Michael Millar, our member and speaker.

This was an acceptable number considering we are only a total of 49 including over 22 who come from both well out of town and the South Island.

With respect to our falling numbers, the committee were saddened to learn that our very long time member Peter Attwood has recently resigned for age related reasons.

After an appetizing Bolton lunch we were absorbed by Michael’s talk of the period of his naval career when he was head of the United Nations military mission formed to reveal the weapons of mass destruction allegedly held by Iraq and which triggered the second war in the Persian Gulf.

The obstacles/difficulties confronting such an assignment featured prominently in his talk, including   personal danger and discomfort, with deteriorating living conditions. These impediments however were not sufficient to exclude the purchase of  Johnnie Walker Blue Label, [at $8 (US?) a bottle] in a Muslim country !

Issues touched on by Micheal among others included reference to the Russian supply of weapons for and use by, the Iranians in cross border fire. This involved some ducking and running. As well was the discovery of the stocks, or recently moved stocks of, the components necessary for the manufacture of chemical and nuclear weapons, mustard gas, sarin etc.etc.

During the talk there was brief reference to the technology of warfare of the day bearing in mind this was now a quarter of a century ago.

After the meeting I was left with the impression that there is, without compromising his level of security, a lot left to to be learned from Michael about the RNZN, particularly today in 2018.

For instance, what actually meant when we read in the press that a unit of the RNZN had been at sea taking part in combined exercises with an Australian/US fleet and what is modern naval ship weaponry ??

I am sure Michael can be persuaded to speak again.


Next month at 1200hrs on  Wednesday 8th August is the Company’s AGM which is to be held again in Wellington.

It will be attended by the Master from the Auckland Branch and the Wardens from Tauranga and Christchurch as well as Eric representing us in Wellington.

Please put this date in your diary now. There is an unwritten onus on members to attend whenever they possibly can in order to properly support those they have selected to correctly run their organization.

Ken Watt


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Press reports from Sydney, NSW this week describe distressed residents hearing a ships whistle every 2 minutes which kept them awake one morning this week when Sydney was covered by a thick blanket of fog. Many misinterpreted it as a ship in distress.

Press reports from Wellington this week say that ferry schedules were disrupted by a southern right whale which took up residence near the ferry terminal.  The manger of the shipping company said “the crew were operating the ship’s horn to warn off the whale”.

I wonder if the whale knows the collision regulations or can hear the “horn” when submerged.

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Designed For Danger

This article highlights once again the paucity of good ergonomic standard bridge design often influenced by well meaning navel architects, salesmen of bridge equipment or retired naval officers who have had no or little practical experience in keeping a bridge watch or close quarter ship handling.

Lloyds List 22 Nov 2017  by  Michael Grey

EVERY well-designed ship represents a compromise of aims for the designer. Even the dimensions involve a balance between the demands for a capacious cargo-carrying space and the need to reduce resistance. The need to minimise the draught or keep the length beneath certain parameters, or the requirement for an air draught to enable the ship to pass under a certain bridge may demand compromises in other directions. The need for power, great manoeuvrability or cargo requirements mean balances must be made if the ship is to function well.

It is also curious to note how design features that were once thought important have now been relegated to the history books, largely to reduce the cost of building ships. It was, for instance, regarded by mariners as desirable that the ship’s bridge should be close to the mid-length of the hull. Elderly people may recall tankers with a centre castle, even though the machinery was in the after part of the ship. They might also remember ships with camber, to keep the decks dry, and a rise of floor forward and aft, which, along with raised forecastles and poops, would keep the seas where they belonged.

Some adventurous designers, whose identity is surely lost in the mists of time, must, at some stage have suggested that all these things were unnecessary and, by pandering to seafarers, only increased the costs of shipbuilding. Henceforth, ships would be constructed to a more utilitarian pattern, with accommodation piled right down aft or up in the eyes of the ship where it would be a useful breakwater. Presumably, those paying the bills would have agreed with these changes wholeheartedly, ignoring protests from those who might have needed to live on board and work the ships.

With our modern enthusiasm for environmental priorities, other pressures pile onto the designers’ computer. Fuel saving, reasonably equated with saving the planet, requires the power to be minimised, while speed, which was once a matter of pride to a shipowner, is now severely curtailed. And waking up to the fact that a wind from ahead tends to slow down a ship, streamlining has become a new fashion.

Mind you, such enthusiasms for new and radical designs bring with them the risk of unforeseen consequences. I sailed in a wonderfully streamlined ship, which looked as if it could go fast, but in fact was no faster than any other of the same power. The bridge front was elegantly curved and the windows set in at an angle, which meant that if you stood too close to the glass you bumped your head. Worse still, while the windows meant that there were no night-time reflections, rain, dew and snow lay on the surface and obstructed visibility. The unprepared would come onto the bridge, conclude it was foggy and prepare to put the engines on stand-by, before realising that it was perfectly clear. It is why the Safety of Life at Sea Convention has required windows to be angled in to their lower edge.

Savings to the environment

I can remember seeing the extraordinary design of the car carrier City of Rotterdam when it arrived in North Sea waters and remembering my beautiful old ship. The designers of this ship and its owners were triumphantly telling the world of the savings to the environment that would result from a forepart that resembled a tennis ball with windows. To maintain the perfect curve, only the window which was on the centreline was perpendicular to the fore and aft axis, with those on either side sloping away to the sides. It was certainly a very striking looking vessel, though once again it occurred to me that the ship was being handled from a position right over the bow.

I wonder if any master or pilot was able to cast his eyes over this singular design while it was on the drawing board. The ship’s flag state, Panama, was persuaded to approve its non-SOLAS compliant bridge arrangement and the vessel went into service, to enthusiastic remarks about its fuel consumption and environmental signature.

So it was sad to learn, nearly two years ago, that the car carrier had been involved in a nasty bump in the River Humber and that subsequently, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch had concluded that a major contributory factor was the design of the wheelhouse. On a wild night, with the outbound ship making a lot of leeway in the wind, the pilot, standing behind one of the angled windows off the centre, was fooled by the illusion that he was looking ahead, when his view was on the bow. He believed that he was steering almost south to gain the right-hand side of the channel but it was an illusion, and he was failing to clear the incoming ferry. The MAIB also reported that pilots elsewhere had found difficulties caused by this ultra-green design.

The report from the MAIB, objective and professional as they are, must not be used in evidence but it seems quite extraordinary that presumably after they had read the report, Maritime & Coastguard prosecutors saw fit to send the master and pilot of the ship to the Crown Court in Hull, where, after they pleaded guilty to a number of charges, they were given custodial sentences, albeit suspended. It is, after reading the MAIB report, difficult to ascertain the logic of this approach, unless it is designed to demonstrate that henceforth, all accidents, no matter how they were caused, render the participants liable to a severe sentence, on the Admiral Byng principle.

It is not too far-fetched to conclude that while plenty of seafarers over the years have lost their lives because of design problems, these two individuals have been criminalised by the same.


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