Monthly Archives: November 2020


This is an interesting first hand account of life as an Apprentice in the 1950’s. Told by Captain Blowers who served his time with Bank Line. The intro only is shown here. (For the full story please click on the orange download button at the end)

A Mystery Voyage with the Bank Line:


Having spent three years at the London Nautical School and after taking the General Certificate of Education in six subjects, including Navigation and Seamanship, the next step was to go to sea.  It was first necessary to pass a full medical examination and eyesight test.   To avoid oil tankers and experience worldwide trading, I signed indentures in 1955 at the age of 16 with Andrew Weir’s Bank Line and joined, as the junior of three apprentices,  a brand-new ship M.V. Foylebankat Harland & Wolf’s shipyard in Belfast for a five-month trip to U.S. Gulf ports, Australia, South Sea Islands and home.   When we were in Houston, Texas, we were berthed next to an old Bank Line Liberty ship (generally referred to as Sam boats) the Ivybank, loading a similar assortment of cargo for Australia We exchanged visits and their junior apprentice went back along the quay crying after seeing our new and much nicer accommodation and facilities.   I wrote to my parents that “the ship (Ivybank) was the worst I had ever seen.  It was absolutely filthy and the quarters were just shocking.  I hope I never see her again in my lifetime.” 

  So, you can imagine my thoughts, when after three weeks leave over the New Year period 1955/56, I received orders to take the train to Hull and join the S.S. Ivybank,that had followed us back from Australia with a bulk cargo of ore of some kind. On the train I met two of the other apprentices joining, the 18-year-old senior apprentice, Terry,  was an old London Nautical School boy, as also was the first trip junior apprentice, Tony, an  old form-mate who had stayed on at school for an extra 6 months.  The second apprentice, John from Dover, joined later and was a year senior to me.  The overnight (non-sleeper) train arrived in Hull at about 5am and we had to kick our heels in the cold until 7am when the nearby seamen’s club opened so that we could get a hot drink and some breakfast  As soon as they opened for the day we made the required visit to the company’s agent in the fabulously named “Land of Green Ginger” where we were given the location of our ship and found her high out of the water with a perilously steep gangway to lug up all our gear.  The joining date was 18th January 1956.


BALTIC COMET was built at Rendsburg, Germany in 1954. Sister of the BALTIC CLIPPER. Ran to the Mediterranean for 12 years in conjunction with SLOMAN, Hamburg. Sold to Pakistani owners in 1966 when she became the PASNI. In 1977 changed hands again , becoming the SEAMOON 1 under Bangladesh owners, and ended her days at Chittagong in 1982.

FOYLEBANK – A birthday at sea..

The ex Russian (Finnish built) FOYLEBANK had capacity for 576 teu’s, and was purchased by the Bank Line in 1995 and fitted out with some passenger cabins. She was then placed on the S. Pacific services.

The birthday card above was drawn by the second Mate, Gareth Armstrong, to mark the birthday of Robbie MacKenzie, the Master’s wife, who has kindly agreed to share it with readers.


The TEAKBANK at Colombo early 1960’s

A closed shelter deck design built in 1958 Sold out of the fleet in 1975 when she became the NEWTON. Photo courtesy of Charlie Stitt and his site. See


The Teakbank was my home for a series of voyages World Wide that over a period over Two years of my life during which time I served as 2nd and 1st Mate on this fine vessel.

Posted by Mike Lindsell


Bank Line navigators will remember the infamous stretch of coast just round the corner from Cape Town heading North, with a grim warning on the Admiralty charts about shifting sands..

Here is an interesting original article complete with photos written by an ex Bank Line man. To read the whole article please click on the orange download button. Happy reading!

See https://oceanjoss for more material…..



The interesting history of the BALTRAFFIC, built in Sunderland at the end of WW1. She was the WAR COPPICE ordered by the government and unwanted as the war ended, so sold to the French government who named her NORD. A year later they sold her to a Lorient based company who fitted her out as a reefer vessel and named her ( imaginatively?) REFRIGERANT. Much later in April 1933 she was sold to UBC and named BALTRAFFIC. During WW2 she went down to New Zealand for the duration of the war and returned to Europe in 1946 resuming her trade on the Baltic run. In 1952 at the age of 34 she was sold to a Pakistani company who named her SAFINA-E-TARIQ and who traded her for 4 more years. Broken up in Karachi in 1956 after 38 years afloat.


The 1938 POZARICA, received an aerial torpedo while on convoy duties in January 1943.

An interesting article follows. Please click on the red download button

Note:(UBC 50% owned by Andrew Weir & Co. and MACANDREWS a 100% subsidiary of UBC.)

See for more from the author

Booth Line – A Liverpool Legend

The Booth Line passanger vessel HILLARY pictured in the Mersey in the 1950’s

An interesting article about the Booth Line by an ex Bank Line man. Liverpool and the Mersey were both to play a big part in any Bank Line career, and it was home to many famous companies such as the Booth Line.

Click on the download button to read the whole article. More at

WESTBANK feature

at sea 1957
A treat for the ‘old timers’ looking in, maybe. The WESTBANK was one of three vessels built after WW2 at the start of the big fleet replenishment that took place. She came into service in 1948 with her sisters, SOUTHBANK and EASTBANK and was a highly successful and hardworking ship spending a lot of time on the ‘Copra’ run bringing back coconut and coconut oil from the Pacific Islands. Popular with staff due to the high probability of a ‘short’ trip of 6 months or less. After 4 years of service she had a narrow escape, grounding on an island in the Indian Ocean and only being freed after a struggle and with some damage. She survived to serve a total of 19 years before being sold on. ( See the story elsewhere on this site).

The 1926 built SPRINGBANK converted for war use. See the models below…

Models by “Junglecat”

(The length overall of the 1:1250 model is 4.16 inches or 10.57 cm)H.M.S. SPRINGBANK

   (The length overall of the 1:1250 model is 4.16 inches or 10.57 cm)

    Class: Auxiliary Antiaircraft Vessel (Sea-Going)

    Displacement: 5,150 tons

    Dimensions: 420.25 (pp) 434 (oa) x 54 x 25.75

    Machinery: 2-shaft Diesel motors, B.H.P. 2,500 = 12 knots

    Armament: 8-4 in. A.A. (4×2), 8-2 pdr. A.A. (2×4);1 aircraft


    Builder: Harland & Wolff (Belfast)

    Launched: 13 Apr 1926


    Notes: Lost 27 Sep 1941



See ‘SPRINGBANK’ entries elsewhere on this site…

For more interesting maritime material see


Myself as C/O of the SOUTHBANK in 1960 with the Lascar deck crew. The men either side of me claimed to be graduates, needing to work as seamen. Serang on the extreme left.

This is an old 1937 wage and provision scale for Lascar Seamen. Water may have been stipulated ” as required” but it was under strict lock and key for issue twice per day!

The Serang and the Chinese ‘ Chippy’


Another of Charlie Stitt’s pictures. This one is the Inverbank in the Panama Canal circa 1962/3

Charlie Stitt
19 hours agoUser InfoINVERBANK

I did a fantastic 20 month trip as 2nd Mate on this fine vessels maiden voyage. A very happy ship with a great bunch of lads. Master Capt John Kemp MBE. Mate Carl Jacobs. C/E Joe Hanover. 2/E Jim Cairns. She was one of the first Bankline ships with the new P type engine so had a few teething problems which kept the Engineers busy. but as professionals, they took it in their stride. Happy Days.