Tuesday, 7 February 2017

All aboard

It was my  birthday on Friday and I was thinking back to the one ship that I served on which was even older than me ... if only by one year!

I served as First Mate aboard SS Herriesdale which had quite a history since being built on the Clyde in 1937 when she was launched as Cromarty Firth,

At just 538 gross tons she was requisitioned in 1939 and employed for 18 months as a supply ship for the Royal Navy at Scapa Flow before becoming involved in The Norwegian Campaign of April 1940 as an ammunition ship  narrowly avoiding attacks from the German Fleet. In 1942 she supported the invasion of North Africa. In '44 she returned to peacetime freight around Scotland and was sold and renamed Herriesdale in 1957.

She was so tiny and under-powered that we spent much of my time aboard sheltering from gales as a strong headwind would prevent us making any forward progress.

She was scrapped soon after I left her to return to deep sea service on modern supertankers. During recent Southerly gales our Margate Roads anchorage offered shelter to around 14 vessels of various sizes, several looking no larger than Herriesdale.

Back in the day I spent many anchor watches looking at Margate, never ever dreaming that one day, fifty years later, I would be on that same shore looking out to sea on a daily basis.

Photo: Sea Breezes magazine May 1959