Monthly Archives: August 2021


On August 17th, 1975, the British cargo Lindenbank was on a voyage from Kimbe to Europe with a cargo of 5.300 tons copra, 1.100 tons palm oil, 1.100 tons coconut oil, 500 tons expeller meat, when she ran aground, on a reef, off Fanning Island. She was abandoned as a total loss. Read more at wrecksite:

There is an account of the efforts to free her and also the official report on the grounding (in which the Master and 3/0 were fined) – all on this site. Just search ‘ Lindenbank’

OLIVEBANK – her maiden voyage

In 1893 the spanking new 4 masted steel bark Olivebank

Olivebank under sail
Olivebank under full sail

sailed into Tacoma and tied up along the NP wheat warehouses below the city. These were the waning days of the age of sail as steamships and trans Pacific passenger liners were becoming the elite vessels in the great harbors around the world. But because hard wheat and cut lumber were important, durable bulk exports from Tacoma, that shipped well on long voyages in the enginless holds of the big windjammers, Commencement Bay remained a familiar port of call for true sailors well into the 20th Century. Tacoma was a sort of sanctuary for the last generations of mariners who depended on the wind-who navigated by cloud movement, barometers, sail charts and trusted currents.

Olivebank crew 1893.cropped

This striking portrait of the Captain and officers on the upper deck of the British registered ship Olivebank, is a study in purpose and pride. The image is a strongbox of  technical details, portraiture and narrative. These are young men steering a new born vessel, 325 feet long and just launched from the famous Glasgow shipyards on September 21, 1892. In their posture and gaze each of them, in their own way suggest a determined competence, particularly Captain Petrie in his embroidered cap, flower boutonniere and heavy gold watch chain.  The other’s wear the formal vested suits and silk ties of merchant seamen, literate adventurers who had brought their ship around the world to the booming country around the inland waters of Puget Sound.


Above them, Tacoma’s elegant new City Hall building was nearing completion across busy Pacific Avenue from the Northern Pacific Railroad Building. The towering Romanesque County Courthouse loomed in a fresh silhouette above the city.  There was a massive brick hotel building under construction to the north and busy sawmills and boatyards lining the waterfront. Downtown Tacoma was busy with fashionable new brick buildings, packed streetcars and the novelty of electric street lights and signs.

Tac Waterfront

The point-in-time captured in the portrait of these seafarers was soon to pass. A world wide economic depression was about to stall Tacoma’s growth and the great shipyards of maritime nations were about to slow the building of commercial sailing vessels. The discovery of gold in the Klondike in 1896 and the start of the Spanish American war in 1898 propelled Seattle ahead of Tacoma as a commercial and population center in the Pacific Northwest. As the operation of commercial sailing vessels faded Tacoma, like other seaports, began to reshape its wharfs and loading docks to accommodate steamships and commercial motor vessels. The big sailing ships became part of the background.

The Olivebank lasted longer than most of the great sailing vessels that visited Commencement Bay. It changed to Norwegian registry and was well maintained for long voyage coal shipping. In 1939, the deep hulled ship hit a wartime mine off Denmark. Only 7 of its 21 man crew were saved.


This photograph is from a wonderful album and collection of images from the Burroughs, Holt, Dickson families going back to the 1880’s. Watch for stories from the photos and research to follow. Thanks to Bruce Smith for the discovery.

Loading Copra – down memory Lane!

Bleeding bags into the hold. ( Note: With wooden hatchboards the bags were bled into gaps between the boards – more tricky with steel lids.)

Photo credit: Tad Kucharski

The FORRESBANK at Honiara

Photo credit: Charlie Stitt

Roy Weir ( Grandson of Andrew Weir) visiting the Pacific Islanders – on a recruitment drive, maybe!

BANK LINE VOYAGE CHARTER – an account of time on th M.V.CRESTBANK

6 August 1980 – 19 September 1980

Joined Birkenhead – Paid Off Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Captain Young.

The privately owned Liverpool shipping company Thos & Jas Harrison, more commonly known as ‘Harrison Line’ regularly chartered vessels off the spot market to maintain their liner cargo schedules. Harrison Line personnel chosen for Supercargo duties were all ‘Pursers’ as we also did, in addition to our onboard administration function, a lot of cargo work on deck during the discharge phase of the voyage, producing cargo plans, making notes on damaged cargo, tally books for the discharge clerks in each port and of course ensuring the special cargo under lock and key went ashore to the right owner!

Obviously, there were those in Harrison Line who were regularly chosen to sail as ‘Supercargo’ in all sorts of varied general cargo ships, of all nationalities and standards and after 5 years of wondering why I wasn’t in the ‘Supercargo’ club I finally received the call. I was to join a ship in Birkenhead, the company didn’t know yet what nationality, just that the ship would be in the West Float at 0800 the following Monday. I conjured up all sorts of images, some badly maintained Greek or Monrovian tramp ships, could have been anything. I was secretly hoping for one of those immaculate white SKOU ships…

Imagine my delight and surprise when I was told it would a Bank Line ship called the CRESTBANK, and even better, it was just 2 years old. The ship itself was far better than any of the ships I’d sailed in with Harrisons’ and my cabin was to be the ‘Owner’s Suite’. Excellent.

I joined at the appointed time and made myself known to the Chief Officer – a great guy and I cannot for the life of me remember his name. He asked me if I fancied breakfast and off we went to the Duty Mess. In Harrisons our crews were mainly locals…Liverpudlians (scouse) or West Indian (Barbadian or Trinidadian) so it was a surprise to meet such a nice polite and gentle Goanese/Indian? (not sure) pantry steward. I’ll always remember, the Mate asked me what I wanted, and not to faff around looking at the menu too much, I just said the full English please. Imagine my surprise when he returned a few minutes later with a fried egg and a sausage. I looked at the mate to say ‘what’s this’ and he said…’oh yeah, Monday we have a sausage, Tuesday bacon etc…crikey I thought, Harrisons were great feeders after all. 

I do remember the curry breakfasts and every Thursday we had chips as a treat with breakfast. I liked these catering ideas so much I introduced them in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary years later where I served for over 30 years. I used to call them Bank Line Breakfasts – the older hands thoroughly enjoyed them, but the younger guys brought up on CocoPops couldn’t get their heads around having curry for breakfast! 

Another thing I noticed was crew members going ashore to buy ‘carpet runners’ for their cabins – to make them more homely and comfortable. I did find this very strange as Harrisons provided pretty much everything for the cabins.

At this time, revolution was happening in Poland, with Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement gaining traction, and I used to sit in the shack with the Radio Officer and listen to the World Service. It was quiet up on that deck, me, the RO and the Old Man. 

I do also remember that at this time, 1980, Bank Line had drastically reduced their trip lengths in order to retain personnel and to attract new blood. I think you had come down from 2 years to 6-9 months. These trip lengths were staggering, in Harrisons we were used to 6–9-week trips to the Cape or the Caribbean. Harrison bulk carriers, operating globally tramping, were 4-month max trips. The Mate was hugely disappointed with this decision by the company, after all, he said, you hardly know where anything is after 6-9 months!

Part of the cargo was a large consignment of brand new Mk1 2 door V8 Range Rovers for discharge in Mombasa. We had a great time with those, firing them up and manoeuvring from the ships side in the tween deck of hatches 3 and 4 to the loading point, then legging it down the gangway to drive them off at full speed down the jetty to the vehicle pound. It was great sport.

When we were halfway through the Dar Es Salaam discharge, word came through that the next port for the CRESTBANK would be Durban to load a bulk cargo of maize for the Far East. Obviously, there was no need now for any of that beautiful brand new used once dunnage we had used to stow the cargo! The Mate sidled up to me and asked what were the intentions of Harrison Line for the dunnage – I kind of knew that this was a loaded question and asked what were his suggestions for it? He suggested we sell it and go ashore for a slap up meal! Rude not to, so we did. 

I was sad to leave the ship, I’d made some new friends, experienced a new company with different operating methods and was very envious of their globetrotting mystery tour lifestyle – as opposed to operating a liner trade schedule. 

Those few weeks in the CRESTBANK remain with me to this day and I’m very proud to have been a tiny part albeit briefly of that legendary British shipping company.

Rupert Drew

Ocean Fleets 74-75

Harrison Line 75-86

Royal Fleet Auxiliary 86-16 

Many thanks to Rupert for this snapshot of life aboard

NAIRNBANK on an ED charter.

( See the hardwood logs on deck)

Bank Line’s 1966 Belfast built NAIRNBANK is seen passing Portishead inbound for Avonmouth from Takoradi, on charter to Elder Dempster, on 10th August 1968.

Later: 1979 GULF HAWK (Abbas Gokal’s Gulf Shipping Group)

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield

GULF HAWK arrived at Alang on 25.4.86 for breaking


The 1974 Sunderland built SEA GLISTER, operated by Parakou Shipping of Hong Kong, is seen passing Rozenburg, inbound for Rotterdam, in 1990.


Later: 1991 VIGOROUS SWAN – 98 LUCKY 25 (Shen Yang Shipping, Dalian)

BU Alang 30.5.98

BEAVERBANK was the 4th vessel from the dozen named the ‘ FLEETBANK’ class. Unlike her namesake of 1953 that served for 17 years, the ship above was sold on after only 7 years as the worldwide container demand accelerated.

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield

The ex CLOVERBANK of 1973

Sultan Shipping Co. of Athens’ 1973 Sunderland built BAHIA III is seen passing Rozenburg inbound for Rotterdam towards the end 1985 or in early 1986.

Ex – CLOVERBANK – 77 SIENA – 78 CLOVERBANK – 81 COLORADO – 85 (also Sultan Shipping Co.)

Later: 1986 MARIE H. – 97 MARIE A.

BU Mumbai 14.5.99

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield

SHIRRABANK in wartime

Here is the 1940 built SHIRRABANK in Melbourne at the end of WW2, still with the liferafts on the mast shrouds. She was one of 3 vessels ordered from Belfast, and her sisters were the ERNEBANK and the ARAYBANK which became transformed to the Italian passenger vessel NAPOLI . ( see the story on this site). The author had a memorable round-the-world trip on the ERNEBANK in 1973. All 3 ships had wood decks and open rails when built.

Photo credit – State Library of Victoria

Ships in the Annals of Maritime History (part 1)

An interesting first article detailing notable ships that have entered Maritime History

Written and edited by Captain Geoffrey Walker, an ex Bank Line apprentice who later sailed extensively as Master for several other owners.


The GOTHIC featured in the article

Click the link above to read the whole article

See Geofrey’s site at


2 views of the 1962 INVERBANK

Bank Line’s 1962 Doxford built INVERBANK is seen arriving at Eastham in rain on 6th August 1978, under her new name of IRINI G.F., owned by Loutra Shipping & General Enterprises Ltd (G.M. & M.G.Frangos) of Piraeus. 

She had been recently sold by Bank Line in the East and was taken on charter by a British liner company, probably Anchor Line; her new owners had not yet had the ship’s hull painted grey. 

Bank Line’s 1962 Doxford built INVERBANK is here seen as IRINI G.F. at anchor near Mersey Bar on 24th August 1980, the photographs taken from one of the pilot cutters. She had been purchased in 1978 by Loutra Shipping & General Enterprises Ltd (G.M. & M.G.Frangos) of Piraeus. 

IRINI G.F. had recently arrived at the anchorage from Churchill with a cargo of grain for discharge into one of Birkenhead’s silos, at the time occupied with another ship. 

IRINI G.F. finally arrived at Chittagong on 14.7.84 for breaking

Photos courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


( The vessel that rescued 1000 refugees from the China Seas when sailing as SIBONGA)

The 1976 Sunderland built AGIOS SPYRIDON, owned by Nicholas G.Moundreas of Piraeus, is seen arriving at Heysham on 27th September 1997 with a part cargo of timber from Brazil.


Sailing from Chennai on 7th April 2000, AGIOS SPYRIDON soon arrived off Alang on 20th April 2000 for beaching and breaking.

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield


An original article from Captain Geoffrey Walker based in Melbourne. Geoff started his career in the Bank Line and had a long and successful career as Master of a variety of vessels trading around the Pacific rim and in Far Eastern waters .

To read the full article click above to download

See for more…..

CHRYSOVALANDOU, the former BIRCHBANK, built by Doxfords at Sunderland in 1958 and purchased by N.J.Pateras in 1970, was photographed approaching the locks at Brunsbüttel on 30 June 1971 bound from Hamburg for Poland to load her last cargo from Europe bound for East Pakistan where she sadly hit a mine and sank on 22 November that year. Her nominal owners were, ironically, the Holy Peacefulness Shipping Company.

Photo credit:- Malcolm Cranfield


The 1978 Sunderland built VENETICO, owned by Fafalios of Piraeus, is seen arriving at Heysham, Lancashire, on 5th May 1988 with a cargo of timber from Belem. 

The author spent 8 years based in this tidal harbour on ferries running nightly to Belfast. The service comprised purpose built container ships ( 1961!) cattle boats, and the 21 knot mail ships, all sailing nightly at different times. Nothing the size of the VENETICO entered in those years.

Ex- FENBANK – 84

Later: 1993 DIMITRAKIS (Aegeus Shipping – D.G.Pateras)

Broken up at Alang 12.10.99

Photo credit – Malcolm Cranfield


The 1974 Sunderland built SEAGLISTER, operated by Parakou Shipping of Hong Kong, is seen passing Rozenburg, inbound for Rotterdam, in 1990.


Later: 1991 VIGOROUS SWAN – 98 LUCKY 25 (Shen Yang Shipping, Dalian)

Broken Up at Alang 30.5.98

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield

The FIRBANK seen as FAFALIOS. She was the SIBONGA of rescue fame under the command of Captain Healey Martin in 1979

(See the Sibonga page on ‘facebook’ for more details.)

The 1976 Sunderland built FAFALIOS, operated by Fafalios of Greece,is seen passing Rozenburg inbound for Rotterdam on 24th April 1984.



BU Alang 20.4.00

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield