|From a painting by Hans Skalagard - SM Feb/97
PLEASE SEE THE STORY FROM CLIFF COCKER AFTER THE PICTORIALS DESCRIBING HIS TRIP TO THE ANTARCTIC....
The picture above depicts the OLIVEBANK sailing up to her
anchorage at Falmouth.
The reproduction from the painting by Hans Skalagard was impressed upon
a Christmas card sent to Andy Flowers by a Captain Jeff Mann and Brian Lucy of Bank Line in 1985 and shows the "Olivebank
by Moonlight". This four-masted barque had lain undisturbed for 57 years until located in June of 1996 by St. Albans
Sub-Aqua Club divers, led by Andy Flowers.
The OLIVEBANK was built in 1892 at the Scottish yard of Mackie &
Thomson. She was a steel four-masted barque of 2,824 gross tons, 326 feet long, with a breadth of
43.1 feet and a depth of 24.5 feet. The ship was built for Andrew Weir & Co, Bank Line. She served
them for over 20 years but had a chequered hisstory and was once scuttled following a fire in Port Guaymas in 1911.
She was fortunately raised and repaired following that misadventure. She also survived two other incidents of lost rigging
during her 47 year life.
Many accounts have been written of voyages on board the OLIVEBANK,
including one entitled 'Rolling round the Horn' by Claude Muncaster, the author and artist, who painted the romantic
Christmas card view of the 'Olivebank by Moonlight'. His book covered a voyage in 1933.
Above the "ROYBANK" approaches Latchford Locks on her way through the Manchester Ship Canal.
|Courtesy Richard H. Myers - SM DEC/92
A waterfront scene at Hull with Bank Line's motor vessel
"CLYDEBANK" (1974/11,405 grt) receiving tug assistance on July 25th 1992.
The BANK LINE, registered by Andrew Weir in 1905 to market his
growing network of cargo liner services, for several decades pursued a policy of planned fleet replacement contracted
with British shipbuilding yards. The Line's last such order was placed in 1977 at the site of the old Doxford yard in
|Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield - SM May/91
|Unknown Bank Line vessel alongside at Birkenhead - Courtesy Ray Simes
Between 1973 and 1975 a major investment in an undercover
yard took place and eight Bank Line vessels were constructed there between 1976 and 1978. The final order, for
six vessels of an advanced design, which became the "Fish" Class, was completed in 1979 and the yard has since
The "Fish" Class rarely visited the United Kingdon during
their short careers with the Bank Line and the one cargo liner service from the UK, between Hull and the South Pacific,
continued to be tonnaged by the Meadowbank Class, built by Swan Hunter in 1973.
|Courtesy Andrew Weir - SM Feb/97
The CLYDEBANK (1974/11,956 grt) was one of
two vessels operating on a new service introduced in 1996 between South & East Africa, the Arabian Gulf, India
and Pakistan called the Bank Ellerman Line. Up to nine passengers were carried by the CLYDEBANK and her sister
ship the FORTHBANK on monthly sailings.
The CLYDEBANK and her sisters were replaced on Bank
Line's round the world service in 1996 by four former Russian cargo vessels which were refitted and converted into multi-purpose/container
ships with ro-ro facility and deep-tanks for carrying vegetable oil. One of the new fleet at the time , the FOYLEBANK
(1983/18,641 grt) frequented Papeete, Tahiti where she loaded coconut oil. These ships carried twelve passengers each
on voyages which could take up to four months.
|FORTHBANK - Courtesy Andrew Weir SM Feb/97
The services on which the "Fish" Class were employed by the Bank Line
were the U.S.A.-South Africa route, which was inaugurated by the ROACHBANK in April of 1980, and the Far East-South
Africa trade. It was not uncommon for the vessels to be chartered out to other operators and the TENCHBANK was renamed
ALS STRENGTH for a six-month charter to Ahrenkiel Liner Services in 1986, also on the Far East to South Africa trade.
Both ROACHBANK and RUDDBANK were involved in rescuing Vietnamese boat people in 1979.
|RUDDBANK - Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM May/91
The RUDDBANK (above) was completed in 1979,
photographed in her original colours in 1983, the year she first changed ownership.
Below, seen in her next 'guise' as NAPIER STAR.
|NAPIER STAR - Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM MAY/91
The first vessel to be sold was the RUDDBANK which was positioned to
the UK by taking a sugar cargo from Mauritius to London in October 1983. She was renamed ROMNEY at Rotterdam by Lambert
& Holt and loaded her first of several cargoes for the Falklands at Avonmouth towards the end of 1983. For the return
voyages she loaded at South American ports on the BRISA service, discharging at Liverpool. However,
once the Falklands contract had expired she was redeployed within the Vestie Group and was positioned, via Karachi,
in the summer of 1986, to the South Pacific for a cargo liner service to the West Coast of USA/Canada.
Initially renamed LAIRG, she was renamed NAPIER STAR in 1989 and
continued to trade as such.
|ex DACEBANK - Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM May/91
All five remaining vessels were sold in 1987 when it was
decided to abandon the Far East-South African trade and charter in tonnage on the USA-South African route. Two vessels
were sold to Lendoudis, a Greek shipowner established at Athens in 1973, who had purchased a pair of Bank Line
ships in 1978/79, the LAURELBANK and the ROWANBANK which needed replacement.
|ex RUDDBANK - Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM May/91
Thus, PIKEBANK became WESTMAN and TENCHBANK the EASTMAN
under his ownership. In an unusual deal with a British shipowner operating under the name Tamahine, the EASTMAN
was sold later in 1989 to become TAMATHAI while another Bank Line vessel, CRESTBANK, which had been purchased from Tamahine
in 1987 and renamed NORTHMAN (ex-TAMATHAI) was sold back to Tamahine in 1988 and renamed TAMAMIMA.
A pair was also taken by, possibly, American interests
and flagged out to the Bahamas. ROACHBANK was renamed DEVO at Yokohama, initially reports as owned by Kawasaki
of Japan, and the TROUTBANK was renamed BRIJ at Kobe. It seems that both vessels were initially managed by Aegeus
Shipping of Piraeus but were later managed by Trishui Ship Management of New York.
|ex PIKEBANK - Courtesy Malcolm Cranfield SM May/91
The final vessel, DACEBANK, was sold to Leond Maritime
of Piraeus, an operator established in 1967 who, prior to 1990, moved up market towards tonnage suitable to liner
operators. As the ANNA L she visited Liverpool in February of 1988 on charter to T & J Harrison, and has recently
been working for the US Government supplying the Gulf forces.
Since their sale by bank Line, with the one exception
of RUDDBANK while trading as ROMNEY, the class has continued to largely trade away from the UK and Europe, the
emphasis being on service in the Far East and South America. The arrival of PIKEBANK as WESTMAN at Liverpool
in 1991, on charter to Eurosal from South America, was therefore something of an occasion.
|Courtesy W. Paul Clegg - SM Oct/97
The Bank Line cargo vessel CLYDEBANK (1974/11,956
grt) anchored off Mumbai (Bombay to those of us who remember...)
|Courtesy W. Paul Clegg - SM Oct/97
The dayroom area of the owner's suite aboard CLYDEBANK.
|Courtesy W. Paul Clegg - SM Oct/97
The officer's dining saloon which was also used
The round-the-world service, visiting South Pacific ports,
operated by Bank Line (Andrew Weir Shipping) had long been popular with travellers preferring cargo ships to cruise
liners. By the middle of 1996, the company had introduced four larger, newer ships with roll-on/roll-off capability
to the service. New services were then found for the four older ships so displaced, two of which were earmarked
for a revived link between South Africa, East Africa, the Gulf and the Indian sub-continent.
Accordingly, from July of 1996 the CLYDEBANK and then the
FORTHBANK started the monthly service from Durban on a round trip scheduled to last about 56 days, calling at Dar-es-Salaam,
Mombasa, Jebel Ali (Dubai), Karachi, Mumbai (Bombay) returning to Durban via Mombasa. Additionally, a call
was usually made at one other port in the Gulf, often Dammam in Saudi Arabia. Passengers could join, and leave,
the ship at any port of their choice, and expect to be charged US $100 per day fully inclusive, except for personal
items such as drinks at the bar and runs ashore. Additionally, a call was usually made at one other port in the Gulf,
often Dammam in Saudi Arabia. Passengers could join, and leave, the ship at any port of their choice and
expect to be charged US$100
There were four twin-bedded cabins, including the owners
suite, and one single. All were very spacious, with full en-suite facilities, TV and video players,
(the ship's video library was extensive, as was it's book collection), tea and coffee makers, refrigerators
and, of course, outside views. There was also a passenger's lounge at the after end of the passenger deck,
walled on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass (referred to by the crew as 'the aquarium') giving unrivalled
views. Passengers ate with the officers in the airy dining saloon, but access to the officer's lounge bar was
normally by invitation only, an invitation which was usually readily forthcoming as officers and passengers became better
The ships themselves were of the geared, 'tween-decker
type, with a deadweight of 15,200 and so carried a wide variety of cargoes. Not for them the simple operation
of merely loading and unloading containers, which could be boring for a passenger and could result in very short stays
in port. Of course, these ships did carry containers, but also practically anything else as well. Bagged
rice and spices, steel in various forms (coils, rods, plates and girders, forest products (paper, chipboard and
the like), second hand cars and new safari coaches are examples of what appeared on the manifests. Just watching the
loading and unloading of these, usually by ship's gear, could be a fascinating pastime and could result in extended
port visits, offering the passenger plenty of opportunities for going ashore in most ports.
Sailing on certain sections of the itinerary brought back
memories of British India, which for nearly 130 years had operated for passengers and cargo between the Gulf,
Karachi and Bombay until 1982, when the last passenger-cargo ship in BI colours, the DWARKA, was withdrawn.
The BI service between Bombay and East Africa lasted until about 1966, while Bank Line itself had been closely associated
with services linking South Africa with the Indian sub-Continent, on which passengers were carried prior to 1939,
until the 1960s.
|Courtesy Roy Cressey - SM AUG/86
Above, the motor vessel CRESTBANK (1978/12,238 grt) is seen laid up in
the River Fal alongside the CAPE AVANTI DUE. She was sold to the Tamahine Shipping Co. in 1986 and renamed TAMATHAI.
(The final section of the above text is an extract taken
from "A Bank Line Freighter Voyage" included in the October 1997 edition of Ship's Monthly wherein W. Paul Clegg describes
a voyage to Gulf & Indian Ocean ports aboard the CLYDEBANK.)
The MORAYBANK (1973/11,405 grt) was chartered out in 1984 to become the TOANA PAPUA but eventually
reverted to her original name. In her place the MEADOWBANK became the TOANA NIUGINI. Both ships measured 162X23m
(530 X 75 ft). They had a TEU capacity of 240 and a mix of cranes and derricks to serve their five hatches. Doxford
machinery of 15,000 bhp gave a speed of 18.75 knots. Six of this design were built by Swan Hunter 1973-74 and,
of these, the lead ship CORABANK traded in the eighties as the UNICOSTA.
On occasion the Bank Line chartered in various ships, two of which changed their names and
livery. These were the German CHARLOTTA (1978/9,313 grt), owned by Peter Dohle of Hamburg and Bernard Schulte
(1978/8,557 grt) which had been chartered to Lloyd Brasiliero and renamed LLOYD RECIFE and LLOYD MEDITERRANEO respectively.
Over the two year period 1979-81 both operated under Bank Line colours, the former as the TESTBANK, the latter
as the TIELBANK.
CLIFFORD COCKER HAS KINDLY PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING SHORT DESCRIPTION OF HIS VOYAGE TO THE ANTARCTIC.
A Trip to the Antarctic
My first trip with Bank Line was in 1974 on the Birchbank on her second voyage, when I joined as Second Engineer, Jimmy
Cairns was Chief to be relieved by Mike Brannock on his first trip as Chief.
The Master was Angus McBain accompanied by his wife Flora and the bairn Kirsty, the mate’s name I can’t
remember he had come from P&O, the second mate was from Lincolnshire and accompanied by his wife, the third mate I cannot
remember and there were 2 apprentices.
We loaded in the West India Dock in London with a virtual Aladdin’s Cave of cars, booze and allsorts, if fact
we were that well loaded that we had to lighter our bunkers to get out of the Dock bound for the Persian Gulf.
The time in the Gulf was hot and boring, but did enable us to keep up to date with maintenance etc.
From the Gulf it was up to the Bay of Bengal to load for South America loading in all the C’s, Calcutta, Chittagong,
and of course Chalna. It was the usual selection of jute, gunnies, barbed wire and manhole covers with a few bicycles.
Then it was down to Durban for bunkers and this is where the Antarctic adventure started. It was during the Suez closure
and there was a great deal of congestion in Durban so we were anchored off, the weather was pleasant and the second mate and
his wife were allowed to take the sailing dinghy off for a sail.
The weather didn’t stay nice for too long and a radio message was received saying that a sailing dinghy with
2 occupants was seen heading for the South Pole under bare sticks.
The port lifeboat was launched with the mate in command, me, the fourth Engineer and 4 seamen to go and recover the dinghy,
recovery was a bit hairy as the only way, with the weather deteriorating was to bear down on the dinghy and catch a line as
we went past, it was recovered successfully and we returned to the ship.
The mate had left a line and a rope ladder over the stern to board but Angus had decided that he wanted the boat back
on the davits so then the saga started.
The dinghy was safely taken back on the ship complete with 2nd Mate and wife (Annie I believe her name was) and the mate
and I decided to try and hook the lifeboat back on, the weather having deteriorated even more with about a 10 ft swell it
was something that we were not looking forward to.
The first two attempts proved unsuccessful with the swinging blocks causing quite a hazard, at that time the block swung
at the 4th engineer who moving swiftly out of the way fell out of the lifeboat, he then swum for the ladder and started climbing
on board the ship, this was observed by the crew who presumably thought that we would follow jumped out of the boat and climbed
up the pilot ladder leaving the mate and myself looking at each other. We then agreed to try one more time to hook on. We
were then joined by the 2nd electrician and the 2nd mate to assist. The 2nd mate didn’t last long; he was hit in
the face by the block which opened up a nasty wound. The 2nd electrician offered to try and hook on and was given dire warnings
about the effects of not keeping ones fingers out of the way. This warning had no effect as he ended up with three crushed
fingers and was hauled out of the boat, which by this time was a little like a butchers shop.
The lifeboat then was left on a line and we left the boat feeling cold, miserable, and a little frightened (me) on the
consequences of what had started off as a pleasant afternoons sailing.
A doctor was called who came out with the pilot boat and decided that hospital treatment was required for the injured;
this was the only good thing to come out of the episode as we jumped the queue of ships waiting.
The 2nd electrician was repatriated from South Africa and we never heard what had happened to him after what was a disastrous
first trip for him.
One thing that does stick in my mind is that I was standing in the shower trying to get warm when a hand clasping a glass
of malt whiskey came round the curtain and a voice said “Angus says Drink this” it was Mrs McBain!
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