A ‘Cutting Out’ to a Victory
Turmoil was famous as a result of the world-wide interest in January 1952 in her epic struggle featuring heroic characters, the tug’s mate Kenneth Dancy and Captain Kurt Carlsen of the doomed Isbrandtsen Line freighter Flying Enterprise. Other Turmoil tales include in winter 1953, escorting the rudderless Norwegian America Line’s Stavangerfjord to Bergen.
But what caught my imagination was her ‘cutting out’ action, worthy of Nelson’s era. She was working for Overseas Towage and Salvage (OTS) mundanely towing barges from the Tyne to Milford Haven when her Radio Operator received a message in code from OTS with the news the Appledore yard building their next tug, Britonia, was going bust and the new tug should be snatched before she fell into the hands of receivers.
Dropping their tow at Falmouth at 16 knots, Turmoil sped round Lands End and was at Appledore bar with just an hour of tide remaining. Still at speed, her wash sent a tsunami along the seafront scattering bathers as she forged up to the yard and alongside the new tug. The watchman wisely disappeared as Turmoil’s bosun leapt aboard with a fire axe to cut the lines. And as police sirens were approaching, Turmoil was heading out to sea with Britonia scattering bathers a second time. OTS congratulated all concerned and immediately sent Turmoil out of harms way to Copenhagen to pick up a tow to the USA.
This strange case in June, resulted from an out of control crewman, possibly a psychotic breakdown, who ran amok and damaged the engine controls of the Liberian bulker Benita (44,183dwt,’98).
The in-ballast vessel ended up on a rocky Mauritian shore. This lead to classic salvage work by Athens based Five Oceans Salvage (FOS). After five weeks removing fuel oil and making Benita as buoyant and watertight as possible, Ionian Sea Fos and Coral Sea Fos, with a combined 19,560bhp, pulled her off on July 25th and anchored her 20 miles offshore.
She wasn’t worth repairing and began to be towed toward the breakers at Alang but the weather was poor.
The hulk under tow developed a severe stern trim and just before she was about to roll over Ionian Sea Fos released the tow. July 30th Benita went down 93.5nm off Mauritius in 4,400 metres. No one was on board and the tug crews are safe. It had been a valiant effort.