IN Remember When of June 28, 2008, you report in the 60 years ago column on "Biggest ship so far is launched on the Tees" says Bert Ward.
The ship was the 27,000 tons whaling factory Kosmos V. It was built at Furness's shipyard, Haverton Hill. The reason Furness's could build such large ships was that the yard is located on a bend in the river. This enables ships to be launched along the river towards the Transporter bridge, not just across it as is the case with Smith's Dock.
I worked in the sailor gang at the time of the launch. Our job in preparation for the launch was to lay the drag chains that slow the ship down as she slides down the slips into the water. On the day of the launch we were on the upper deck. Our job was to slip the chains when the ship was in the water and to take the lines from the tugs which would tow her into the fitting out basin.
The launch was on either a Saturday or a Sunday. On the Haverton Hill side of the river there was a low-lying piece of land sticking out from the bank. A number of men and women in their best clothes were sitting on this promontory to get a grandstand view of the launch.
When the ship hit the water she created a wave which raced towards the river bank. I think the readers can guess what happened next. From the deck of the ship looking down we could see the wave which, to the spectators at eye level, was not visible until it was almost upon them. They scrambled too late for the safety of the river bank, and were up to their necks in water as the wave washed over them.
On the upper deck of the Kosmos we were highly amused. Which is the way of the world. It was fortunate that they only got a soaking.