Monthly Archives: August 2020



Above: Loaded down

Here she is loading flour at Fremantle.

The NAIRNBANK was one of the lucky survivors that went through WW2 unscathed. She was one of the notable order for 18 vessels built at GOVAN by Harlands in 1925. 9 of her sister ships never made it.

This vessel had 33 years afloat in total serving for 28 years for the Bank Line circling the globe – a true stalwart….


The following comments are kindly provided by Richard Wright who was a surveyor at the scene: He is referring here to an account written by the Chief Officer’s wife who was on board, and it can be found elsewhere on this site….. (search Maplebank on the ‘Q’ symbol)

The account is well written and an interesting view of the accident and the re-floating. Ian Lockley, the Salvage Master did use explosives to sink the hulk of the Korean fishing vessel, a good spectacle with the required result.
The re-floating took place on the last of the spring tides and in darkness. There were a few ‘hairy’ moments when the line to the heavy lift tackle on deck parted. The tugs efforts were then moved from the bow to a straight pull from the stern and with a skewing action, she came free. The fishing boat hulk then slid down the underwater cliff but still had lines attached, very quickly let go or cut!
The other interesting point for me was at the start as initially assistance had been accepted by the ships agents from Marine Pacific on an LOF but the master was later advised not to sign the LOF without confirmation from Bank Line HO. The master declined to allow the Marine Pacific rep to board and for the first days, there was a bit of a ‘ ‘mexican stand-off’ whilst the Bank Line super from Sydney (who had arrived on board) tried to re-float her under her own power, without success.


The lead ship of 17 built by Harlands in Belfast. They were a successful design introduced at the end of the break bulk era and on average they served 15 or 16 years for the company. All single screw, they had a simple 5 hatch design with the obligatory deeptanks for oil cargoes. ( See the article, ” A Bank Line Voyage IN 1959″ detailing one of these ships – the 1958 CRESTBANK.)


The 1974 BEAVERBANK, launched 21 years after her 1953 namesake… Sold out of the fleet after 7 years service, her later names were: SANJOHN BAY – SOTIRAS – APOCALYPSIS – SEA GLISTER – VIGOROUS SWAN, and LUCKY 25. Scrapped in 1998.


N J Gilbertson

My first ship as apprentice 1977. Joined Middlesbrough. Loading around Europe for the Persian Gulf, then Australia & New Zealand for East Coast United States Flew home from New York after 6 months. Great start to my seagoing career.

Deryk Johnson

My first trip as Engine Cadet, joined East London, South Africa and did South Africa – Far East for 6 months great times and memories for a Liverpool lad who’d never been out of the UK


The last of the CORABANK class, launched 1974. She spent all of her life in Bank Line ownership just like her sistership, MORAYBANK. The other 4 vessels in the class were all sold on. This ship design was a valient effort to serve the needs of the emerging container market whilst having 11 tanks for oil. Modifications were also made to four of the vessels to carry passengers in double berth cabins. Twin hatches, deck cranes, and portable bulkheads were all features added to get maximum flexibility from the vessels. The record shows that the vessels were switched around on various services and routes, and chartered out when necessary, all in order to survive in very turbulant times.

NB: Interested readers and “nautical buffs” should read Captain John Millars quite moving account of his instructions to beach the CLYDEBANK at Alang for scrapping, Xmas 1999. It is titled – ” Death of a Lady”. (Seach on CLYDEBANK and scroll down).

William petch8 hours agoUser InfoCLYDEBANK

JOINED Clydebank on a floating drydock in Hamburg in early 1985, loaded around Europe, then off on the Sopac service. On our rundown to New Guinea, the captain asked us if we could build a wooden bar outside on the aft accomadation deck as we were expecting to have several ship board social events with shoreside guests, as the captain was C B Davies, NO sooner said than done was the order of the day .WE all devoted our spare time to the task & a very impressive wooden structure including a fine display of imaginitve lighting, provided by the electrian Steve Davies !!! Needless to say the bar was a roaring sucess around the islands ,even the superintendent John Mackenzie was impressed.!!!! ON the voyage back to Europe we had acummulated so much beer ,wine & spirits as all excess bar stock had been acquired by us .& the superintendent put the cost of all socialising6 down to ships account for entertaining clients.!!!! Fine Fellow Sir.So all the way home it was a free bar for all on board.!!!Unfortunately on arrival in Europe we heard that passenger accommodation was to beadded to the after structure so our deck bar had to be
removed !!!! That’s life I suppose !!!!


Two views of the 1937 ESKBANK built as a Doxford economy motortramp, along with the TEESBANK, ETTRICKBANK, and the WILLOWBANK (the second with this name). She seved Bank Line for 27 years.

Captain John Campbell -“

I served on Eskbank for 20 months as App and 3rd Mate in 1955/56, The Masters were Capt Eadie making his last trip prior Promotion to Marine Supt in Calcutta. He was followed by Capt Henry Allan.
I can honestly say that this vessel was maintained to a very high standard and I enjoyed my time there.
We went to many interesting places from New Orleans to Buenos Aires. Our cargoes were Sulphur and Cargo Black . Cotton and tractors. Gunney bags, jute and tea. Bagged and bulk grain.
We also went to Tristan du Cuna with part cargo of supplies plus a hut to be used by the Duke of Edinburgh when he visited the island in 1956.
I left her in Hamburg to obtain my 2nd Mates Certificate.


The elegant lines of the 1964 Doxford built IRISBANK. She later had 14 years service for the N Koreans as the KANG DONG

The 1964 Irisbank was not a Doxford vessel. She was a H and W built and left the yard for her first voyage to Galveston on the 09 09 1964. I was the 6th engineer and first trip which lasted 15 months. Master was nwl Kent.and the chief was Dougie Buck. . There was no love lost between these two……………

from John Lilley – thanks.

Correct – She was one of the 11 TAYBANK class that were built at Doxford’s. However, the second batch of 5 vessels including the IRISBANK were all built at Harlands in Belfast.


The CRESTBANK of 1978 laid up on the FAL near the King Harry ferry above Falmouth. She was sold to Tamahine Shipping and had some years in layup before going to scrap.

The laid up shipping on the Fal may be seen from a public path running through the ‘Trelissick’ gardens and it can be a spectacular sight as the ships appear through the trees!

“Moments in Time” by Geoff Walker

This is an early view of Port Fairy in Victoria, Australia, with the veteran coastal steamer, S.S. Casino and the the subject of the interesting article attached. (Click on the download button).

Written by Geoff Walker who started his career in the Bank Line. See his maritime site at

The one and only THISTLEBANK

Artist – John Stewart

John Stewart’s marine painting shows her in the early days of her career with the crew trying to barter a tow from the crew of the steam paddle tug in the foreground

John Stewart is a marine painter of outstanding talent, who became interested in the sea and things nautical from an early age. After school, he travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles, exploring and studying the coastline which has so inspired his work over the years. He went to sea to gain further first-hand experience before travelling on to the Middle East. Returning to England he studied at the Liverpool College of Art, and it was here that he became fascinated by Liverpool’s River Mersey. He subsequently studied at the Brighton College of Art, thereby gaining a first class degree.

John Stewart’s deep understanding of the sea has enabled him to portray so brilliantly the vagaries and dramatic impacts of sea, wind and sky. He is a total perfectionist with the minutest eye for detail and accuracy, each work taking many hours to complete to his total satisfaction. His work is today represented in many private art collections worldwide.

The THISTLEBANK was the ninth vessel in Andrew Weir’s fleet, and she served 23 years before going to Norwegian Owners. The name was never chosen again.

Built in the Kingston Yard of Russell & Co, Port Glasgow, Scotland as Yard No.246 and completed on 26th December 1890, the four-masted steel barque Thistlebank sailed with the Bank Line, owned by Andrew Weir. Of 2431 grt displacement and a length of 284 feet she is typical of the last sailing ships to be produced in the late-19th and early 20th century. As an example of her prowess, between the 11th May and the 7th August 1897 she sailed from Lizard to Calcutta in 88 days, racing the four-masted barque Drumrock (which had sailed from Liverpool 6 days later on May 17th and reached Calcutta on August 10th after 85 days out).

Her main trade was on the Pacific grain route where she joined two other ships, the Gowanbank and Ashbank. Having proven her worth during 14 years sailing she was purchased in 1914 by the Norwegian shipping company A/S Olivebank (E. Monsen & Co.), Tvedestrand and then served through the opening months of WWI.

On the 30th June 1915 the Thistlebank, en route from Bahia Blanca, Argentina to Queenstown (CobH), Ireland for orders with a full cargo of grain was just 25 nautical miles (46 km) south west of the Fastnet Rock (51°09′N 9°50′W) when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-24. Her crew took to the lifeboats and managed to row to the safety of Cork harbour. All survived.

On 26 October, 1914 U-24 was the first U-Boat to attack an unarmed merchant ship without warning, the SS Admiral Ganteaume which was torpedoed but was able to be towed to port.

In seven patrols, U-24 sank a total of 34 ships totalling 106,103 GRT, damaged three more for 14,318 tons, and took one prize of 1,925 tons.

Her second kill (six months before sinking the Thistlebank) was the most significant. The victim was the battleship HMS Formidable, torpedoed 30 nautical miles (56 km; 35 mi) south of Lyme Regis, at 50°13′N 03°04′W. She was hit in the number one boiler room on the port side. In gale-force winds, rain and hail, with swells running to nine metres high, as Formidable leaned twenty degrees to starboard the crew struggled to get their boats away. Some hit the water upside down, some were smashed as they fell, others were swamped. U24’s second torpedo struck the ship’s port side.

The battleship capsized, rolling over men in the water as she sank. Out of a crew of approximately 711 men, five hundred and forty seven died, including the Captain.

On the 22nd November 1918 U-24 surrendered and was later broken up at Swansea in 1922.