I WAS DELIGHTED to see a photograph of my old ship Baron Geddes as the ss Jytte Paulin in the December 2012 issue of Sea Breezes.
I joined the Baron Geddes, my second ship as apprentice, at Immingham in October 1959 whence we departed for Dagenham to load cars for Jacksonville, Florida, thence to Port Sulphur, Mississippi River to load sulphur which was to be her last cargo for Hogarths.
As we steamed from the Florida Strait into the Atlantic, the Second Mate observed a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral rising then crashing into the sea. As we proceeded further north we met really foul weather which caused a frame and plate on the ship’s port side below the waterline to crack and start letting in water. Fortunately this was in the stokehold and easily accessible.
The deck watches were split, the Mate and Second mate stood watches in the stokehold whilst the Captain and third mate stood the bridge watches. As there was no auto-pilot, a helmsman was also required. The remaining (British) crew were required below to shoreup the ship’s side. The weather steadily worsened as did the cracks which spread to several plates and tarpaulins were needed to protect crewmembers from the incoming seawater as we caught wedges and replaced them as the vessel moved in the huge swells.
We were displaying NUC signals as we slowly made our way towards the Channel where the weather abated. We steamed at full speed but still displaying NUC signals as the helm orders were “Nothing to port”. Our first port of discharge was Immingham, then Billingham. Discharged, we moved to Greythorpe dry-dock where the Baron Geddes became B and we all went home at the beginning of January.
A KING - WILSON
Oldham, OL2 6TT