Monthly Archives: July 2021

NELLA ex Bankline


There were 5 vessels ordered from John Readhead in S Shields just prior to WW2. They all had names beginning with T. i.e. TIELBANK, TESTBANK, TEVIOTBANK, THORNLIEBANK, and THURSOBANK. Only the TEVIOTBANK (above) made it through the war.

She was sold to the Italians after 17 years service when she became the NELLA for 16 more years.

The Italian owned, Panama flag, NELLA was photographed in the River Elbe approaching Brunsbüttel locks on the morning of 28th June 1969 on a voyage from Melilla to Lübeck.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield



Cyprus Maritime Co. Ltd. of Athens’ 1979 Sunderland built MULTI TRADER is seen at Birkenhead on 23rd February 2001. She had arrived on 4th February from Belem via Nantes with a cargo of timber which was poorly stowed and so difficult to unload – this cargo has of course long since been containerised

TENCHBANK was introduced in 11/79 and was the 6th and last of the ” Fish Class” vessels. Sold in 1987 when she became the EASTMAN. 2 years later she was bought by a London based company and then became the TAMATHAI. IN 1995 Panamanian interests bought her and renamed her CLINTON K. 1997 saw her owned by a HK company and a new name of JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA. A year later she was the MP TRADER of Greek Cypriot ownership, who then renamed her MULTI TRADER in the year 2000 which was her name until 2008 when she went to the breakers at Alang.

Photo credit for the MULTI-TRADER – Malcolm Cranfield

The 1939 WILLOWBANK on her maiden voyage

There were 4 ships ordered in 1937 from W Doxford. The ESK,TEES,ETTRICK, and the WILLOW. Only the ESKBANK and the ETTRICKBANK went on to survive the war.

An interesting snap of Auckland taken in 1939. The second big vessel from the left is the new WILLOWBANK completed 3 months earlier in the year that WW2 started. Sadly, she was torpedoed 1 year later when fully loaded with maize.

At 19.38 hours on 12 Jun, 1940, U-46 fired a stern torpedo at a ship in convoy SL-34 about 220 miles west-northwest of Cape Finisterre and missed the intended target, but hit the Barbara Marie that broke in two and sank. At 19.46 hours, another torpedo was fired which hit the forward part of Willowbank and caused the ship to sink by the bow. The master and 50 crew members from Willowbank (Master Donald Gillies) were picked up by the British motor merchant SWedru. Read more at wrecksite.

Credits: ‘’ and the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.



DEEBANK aground in Port Philip Bay in 1936.

Photo courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Australia

The DEEBANK was one of 4 vessels ordered from Workman Clark, Belfast in 1929. They were the DEEBANK, TRENTBANK,( Bombed and sunk in 1942), FORTHBANK, and LINDENBANK. ( Stranded in 1939). The DEEBANK ( above) served until 1955 when she became the Panamanian DEELOCK. In 1967 she changed hands again, becoming the Japanese vessel ZUIMEI. Scrapped in 1971 after 42 years afloat.


This is the old WESTBANK, outbound from Rotterdam, and seen as the SANTA HELENA in 1970. Just finished discharging a full cargo of grain from Buenos Aires. Built in 1948 and sold in 1967 when she became the SIMBA followed by a new name – SANTA HELENA in 1969. Broken up in 1974.

The author was an apprentice on this ship, joining her in Durban in 1952. The WESTBANK, then one of the latest ships in the fleet had just had a very narrow escape after grounding at full speed in the dark on the unit island of Juan De Nova in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and the African Coast. A B.I. tug called ARUSHA managed to free her on the next spring tide, and she was repaired in Durban before heading home to Immingham with a cargo of manganese ore. A huge steel beam was welded along the hull at bilge keel level for extra strength.

More pictures and an account can be found on this site.

Photo above courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

Napoli 1948-71, ex Araybank 1940, sunk off Crete 1941, salvaged 1947, at Melbourne 15th May 1949

This vessel started life as a Bank Line ship – the ARAYBANK built in 1940. Hardly recognizable here after a massive rebuild when she was turned into the Italian emigrant ship – NAPOLI.

7 months after she was launched WW2 was raging, and she was sunk at Suda Bay in Crete when discharging military stores. After the war, Achille Lauro of Italy purchased the wreck which was towed to Genoa, and fitted with a 9 cylinder engine. Accommodation was added for 650 passengers. She served on the Australian route, before switching to the central American and Caribbean services for a further 20 years from 1951 to 1971.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


Andrew Weir’s 1957 Belfast built CLOVERBANK is seen passing Portishead, outbound from Avonmouth on 19th September 1970. She had been sold at Avonmouth to Y.C.Chang’s Pacific International Lines (P.I.L.) but oddly sailed from Avonmouth in P.I.L. colours still as CLOVERBANK.

She was soon renamed KOTA RAKYAT and finally arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on 28th December 1981 for breaking.

CLOVERBANK was the lead ship of a 17 ship order from Belfast.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

The Trepang Hunters

This is an interesting article penned by Captain Geoffrey Walker concerning the harvesting of Trepang in Asian waters

The full illustrated article can be read by clicking on th download link above

Readers interested in Maritime matters, accounts, pictures, and ephemera should have a look at Geoff’s site at


A nice view of the 1929 built FORTHBANK loaded down. See the line boatmen under the bow.

This was the author’s first ship, joining in July 1951 in Cardiff and sailing for Point Fortin Trinidad to load drummed bitumen

The white line on the hull indicates a date earlier. The company progressively removed the white stripe on the hull in the early 50’s. and it was gone on this ship by 1951.

A typical ‘old timer’ in the fleet at that time. See the lattice type derricks, radial davits for the boats, open rails and wood sheathed decks that glistened when wet. No running water, hot or cold in the accommodation – only hand pumped and carried by buckets.

She was a steamer. Took part in the Sicily landings in WW2 and was the first ship to berth in Italy after Taranto was opened.

Had a 30 year lifespan, the last 6 under the Italian flag as POTESTAS.

She had 3 sisters – Deebank, Trentbank, and Lindenbank. The Deebank had a 42 year life under 3 owners, The Trentbank was lost in WW2, and the Lindenbank stranded on Arena island in 1939.


Ramon De Larrinaga

An article re ” The Larrinaga Steamship Company ” Older Bank Line hands will remember the ubiquitious ‘La’ boats seen around the world keeping company with Bank Line vessels.

Click on the link to download and read. Written by Captain Geoffrey Walker in his great style. See his own site at


The ex SPRUCEBANK as the DEPPY seen in Malta. She was the last vessel from a massive 21 ship order from W Doxford known as the FIRBANK class. Launched in 1964 from Sunderland.

In 1979 she was sold to Cypriot owners and became the BRISTOL and 4 years later, the Greek owned DEPPY. Sold in 1985 by public auction.

Photo is by kind courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


Type:Cargo Ship
Builder:J Readhead & Sons Ltd
Yard:South Shields
Yard Number:511
Dimensions:5087grt, 2981nrt, 423.7 x 56.7 x 24.8ft
Engines:T3cyl (25, 42 & 71 x 48ins) 524nhp
Engines by:J Readhead & Sons Ltd
Propulsion:1 x Screw, 11.0knots
Reg Number:165927
03/02/1938Bank Line Ltd (A Weir & Co, managers), Glasgow
1955SOARMA – Soc Armamento Marittimo, Genoa, Italy; renamed NELLA
16/02/1971Broken up
Comments:16/02/1971: Arrived at La Spezia for breaking up
23/02/1971: Breaking up commenced by CN Santa Maria



Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

There were 5 sisters built between 1937 and 1940. The Tiel, Thurso, and Thornliebank were all torpedoed and the Testbank was destroyed when an ammunition ship blew up alongside. The TEVIOTBANK (above) served for 17 years before going to Italian owners who ran her for another 16 years as the NELLA (pictured above).