I spent 50 years in merchant shipping, from joining HMS Conway in the first week of September 1960, to going to Rotterdam on 6 September 2010 to advise a very well known Dutch company on the modus operandi of Libyan oil and gas exporting terminals.
During that time, I also piloted about 5,500 ships at various terminals and ports in Africa and The Middle East. I always believe the finest ships I ever saw in that period were the Glenlyon class built in the 1960s. I think the first one I saw was on the approach to Bangkok which, if correct, would put it in August 1963 or January 1964. I also have a colour slide of one passing through Hong Kong Harbour in ‘Blue Funnel’s’ colours in about 1975-77. However, interestingly enough, at the ‘back end’ of the funnel there is still some Glen Line red. I did pilot one of the Priam class after she had been sold on. They did not have the majestic appearance of the Glenlyon class! I wonder if they were a success or had cargo shipping moved on?
With respect to carrying dogs on ships, I looked after a few, but whilst a cadet in 1963-64, myself and the other cadet looked after 460 pigs on deck from Bangkok to Hong Kong. They were individually penned and carried two high on deck so after mixing the food, each one was individually fed and then the tin bowl retrieved from the pen with a piece of dunnage! About eight died which wasn’t bad as there was cholera around the South China Sea and freshwater was short. I believe we were each paid £5 for our agricultural duties which paid for a night out in Hong Kong.
DAVID BOOTH, MASTER MARINER
236 Bond Street, Macclesfield, SK11 6RG