I have been reading the excellent Sea Breezes magazine for more years than enough, it is always interesting but occasionally there is something that strikes a chord.

Turret ShipsIn the December 2014 issue, I saw the item concerning ‘Turret Ships’ and my thoughts went way back to the only time I ever saw one of these. It was in 1950 and I was an apprentice on Brocklebank’s Mahanada, moored in Port Said, when one of the few survivors of the type came past us. She was flying light and her propeller, only half immersed, was thrashing around in grand style.

Unfortunately, I cannot remember her name or flag. What I can remember is our Chief Engineer’s impromptu lecture about the ship, bearing heavily on the ignorance of naval architects and the avarice of ship-owners to inflict such ships onto the long suffering seafarer. Imagine trying to get a heavy piece of gear from one end to the other. Where did they stow the hatch boards when working cargo?

But there were benefits for the owner. The ships were ideal for grain where the ‘turret’ provided a built in feeder, they were strong although I believe that they rolled ‘a bit’. But the major advantage was the low net tonnage resulting in lower port costs, in particular the Suez Canal dues.

This would have been important to the Clan Line who owned a number of the type, but less so to owners who traded them as tramps.

There were over 400 of the type built and the Cairntorr came about halfway through the series. A list of them, with their particulars and some descriptive notes, was published by the World Ship Society in a small booklet in 1975.

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