History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
Barry Waterhouse and CS Recorder (3)
I served my apprenticeship at the Humber Graving Dock at Immingham before going to sea, working on a number of Cable & Wireless ships whilst there. These included Norseman, Mirror, Lady Denison Pender (LDP), Retriever, etc. I joined Cable & Wireless as a junior engineer at the age of 21.
My first ship at sea was the Recorder (a new building) and I joined her on the 16th August 1954 under Tyne Bridge at Newcastle after her acceptance trials. About 10 days later we sailed for the Thames and the Telcon works to load cable before sailing for Singapore to relieve the Stanley Angwin.
The Captain was Capt. Muccleston from Louth, Chief Engineer "Thunder" McKinley, Second Engineer Denis Dawson, and the bo’sun was Harold Yon, who hailed from the island of St. Helena. The crew was Spanish.
During fog in the Thames estuary (it must have been the 27 th August 1954), we were in collision with a Danish ship, the Uruguay, sustaining severe damage to the starboard side in line with the break of the poop deck. The collision destroyed the hospital on the boatdeck, one of the lifeboats (stained and varnished at that time – not white as in the colour photograph below), and several crew cabins.
The damage was temporarily repaired by, if I recall correctly, Siley, Cox & Weir on the Thames, and we then returned to the Tyne for permanent repairs, which involved renewal of about 22 plates, accommodation repairs, and a new lifeboat etc.. We were there about 5 - 6 weeks.
After repairs we sailed down to Greenwich, but then, instead of going to Singapore, we were based on the Gibraltar station, spending a lot of time operating out of Falmouth, and we were actually in Falmouth for Christmas 1954. The Recorder did eventually take up the Singapore station but when I’m not sure.
I left the Recorder in April 1955 after about 8 months, while she was in drydock in Grimsby, and was transferred to the Edward Wilshaw. I joined her in Aden, although the ship's actual station was Mombasa in Kenya, and stayed with this ship until late November 1956, leaving her whilst she was in drydock in Capetown. I arrived back in the UK on the 8th December 1956 after 2 weeks on passage from the Cape on the mail liner Stirling Castle.
After study leave I left Cable & Wireless due to the 2-year-long commissions at that time, but I have nostalgic recollections of my time with them. I did once again have dealings with the Recorder in the early 1970s when I was a Ship Surveyor representing Underwriters and attended the ship, again at the Humber Graving Dock, in connection with the renewal of her diesel generator.
A friend of mine, John Ward, became Chief Engineer on several of their ships including Mercury and another friend, John Willerton, who relieved me on the Edward Wilshaw in Capetown, stayed with the company all his seagoing career; I last saw him before he retired on the CS Northern on the Tees.
Copyright © 2007 FTL Design
Last revised: 9 May, 2007
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