The ocean's power was brought home to use on ship voyage.
In November 1970 the personnel manager telephoned, telling me I was one of the new crew to fly to Curacao to join the MV Beaufort Sea as the electrical officer of a new tanker under its management.
From Curacao airport, taxis took us to see a green-painted hull with a white-painted superstructure, a midships navigating bridge and aft engine room, with a flying bridge between the fore and aft accommodation. Then we saw MV Pedro Miguel partly obscured by our new name.
The chief and second engineers already on board remained with us after we had signed on because they had experienced the numerous electrical power failures and main engine mechanical problems of this 13,040 GRT, 7,892 NRT nightmare with its 7,500 BHP Burmeister &Wain Marine Engine.
We regularly transported heavy oil from Curacao to Cristobal or Panama at each end of the 50-mile-long Panama Canal.
On one trip to New York during a bad storm the sea badly damaged the flying bridge, cargo oil tank heating pipes and the ship's hydraulic steering system pipework, preventing it being steered from midships. This resulted in it having to be steered manually from aft.
The oil cargo solidified.
During our piloted passage into New York, the main switchboard failed, causing a total power failure and we had to be towed by tugs.
Steam lances were used to liquidise and discharge the cargo.
With the switchboard rewired by contractors, we sailed for Curacao eight days later, needing a good sense of humour and two matches to keep our eyes open.
Malcolm H Mort Cardiff & Barry Seafarers Link Organiser Roath, Cardiff
The Panama Canal as it looks today
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Sep 10, 2009|
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