Eastgate

About

Completed 1957 as Eastgate for Turnbull Scott Shipping. Originally ordered by Anglo-Saxon as Hiatula. In time-charter for Anglo-Saxon. 1973 sold after collision. 30-6-1973 arrived Kaohsiung for scrap.

Information
Also known as
Hiatula
IMO number
5096262
Call sign
GWWR
Construction number
691
Tonnage
18.130 ton
Beam
21m
Length overall
169m
Year of construction
1957
Year of renaming/broken up
1973
Service for Shell
1957 to 1973
Cargo
Class
Flag state
Home port
Manager
Shipyard
Status
Photo(s)

Comments

Sailors

Name Job Period Details
Thomas J. Davis chief engineer 1957 to 1970
Tom Barr galley boy 1957 to 1958 i was the galley boy on her maiden voyage
Denton John Evans radio officer 1958 to 1959
Thomas Ogle efficient deckhand 1960
Kenneth Chapman 5th engineer 1962 to 1963 Senior 5th engineer
John Bateson chief engineer 1963 to 1973 engineer cadet to chief engineer
Alexander Clark assistant steward 1967
William Alexander cadet 1968 to 1969
Allan Stewart electrician 1968 to 1969
Donald Stuart Rathie marconi radio officer 1970 to 1972
Derek Scothern 4th engineer 1971 to 1973
John Pearce 3rd engineer 1972 to 1973
Barry Scott 2nd mate 1973
John Wallace 2nd cook and baker 1973
Tony Sullivan cabin boy 1973

Anecdotes

Date Visitor Anecdote
03/25/2011 - 18:06 John Pearce

Left ship in floating dry-dock, Singapore. The old man had claimed the beer from the bar for himself! No hard feelings however, because the ship sailed to Hong Kong and was in collision with Cerea - all very sad, some loss of life. Lucky escape one might call it?

06/06/2009 - 14:50 Aad H.c.j. Born

Story by William T. Alexander
?Eastgate? attacked in Vung Ro bay june 6 1968.

It promised to be an interesting stay in Vung Ro right from the start.
As we where mooring up to the sea buoys a US Navy destroyer at the entrance to the bay started lobbing 5-inch shells over us and the surrounding hills.
This made us look questioningly at the 2 members of the US Army who where taking samples of our JP4 cargo prior to discharging.

?Don?t you worry non son. There is a bit of battle goin on over them thar hills. But thars 10000 Koreans in them hills and Charlies scared shitless of them Koreans?

He the regaled us with stories of Koreans taking Viet Cong heads and sticking them on poles outside their bases. It all sounded very reassuring.

I was 17 years old and training to be an officer in the British Merchant Marine.
This was my first trip to sea and life was exciting. I?d joined the Eastgate just a couple of weeks before in Hong Kong. From there we had sailed to Singapore to load JP4 and other petroleum products for the United States Military in Vietnam.

Vung Ro was a small port south of Qui Nhon.
There where 4 bouys to berth a tanker a short distance from the shore. The tanker discharged through a submarine pipeline attached to a buoy. This pipeline supplied an airbase inland.
A jetty for cargo ships was just north of the base. These berths where occupied by the ?American Scientist? and another US merchant vessel.

The day passed quickly with lots of things happening. A cliff face was blown up by the army engineers. A blast which knocked all of us interested spectators back two paces. Then two Hueys landed on the beach and some very nice looking young ladies stepped out and where escorted into the camp.

Our two resident army radio operators informed us of a strip show at the base that evening and if any of the crew where interested they would whistle up a boat. Well amazingly enough most of the crew where interested. So those who could get the time off duty duly went ashore and where royally treated by our American hosts.

Unfortunately I was not one of the chosen few but you can?t win them all.

I came on watch at midnight to find all was quiet.
Andy, my sidekick, informed me that pumping had been stopped due to a suspected hole in the pipeline and the hole was to be investigated the next morning. Sounded good to me.

0130. I was on the poop on a routine fire watch, looking over towards the base ashore.
A flash and a shower of silver sparks form the middle of the base followed immediately by an explosion, followed by another, and another. I got to thinking that this shouldn?t be happening.

I went back midships to see the 2nd Officer who was also of the opinion that this was not usual. The 2/O hit the alarm bells whilst I went to let the Captain know what was happening.

The Chief Officer started to organize the disconnection of the pipeline and attaching it to the buoy ready for use next time. Andy and I where sent off to make sure the ships blackout was complete whilst the Captain was conferring with the two radio operators as to the next move.

Meanwhile a mortar round exploded close to the bow of the ?American Scientist?.
Many of the crew jumped overboard whilst others left the ship on the landward side. They ran along the jetty but 2 shells landed at the shore end of the jetty and they turned and ran back to the ship.

When I got back on deck after checking the blackout I found all the engineers on deck with lifejackets.
I asked the 3rd engineer what was going on and he said the Captain had told them to get ready to abandon ship.

What had happened was that the Captain was a bit unsure of what to do and had asked the American radio operators. The operators had lost touch with the shore and where unhappy about sitting on top of 12.000 tons of JP4 with mortar shells flying around the place. So they had advised getting everyone ashore.

Whilst the Captain considered the Chief Engineer, an old gnarled Scotsman with a limp, stormed up to him and told him in no uncertain terms ?Captain you?r not abandoning this fucking ship?.

This had the effect of pulling the Captain out of his uncertainty and ordered the Chief to get the engines ready for leaving.

Our problem was that there was no emergency evacuation plan for leaving the port. We had lost touch with all other units and the local patrol boats where busy picking up the men in the water from the ?American Scientist?. Ashore there was nu letup in the assault on the base with the sound of the mortar shells being joined by that of small arms fire.

Finally we where ready for off. We had to let our mooring ropes go from the ship as there where no boats available to let them go from the buoys. This would add to the hazards of leaving because of the risk of the ropes fouling the propeller.

We let go one from each buoy, but then came the next problem. The ?American Scientist? had let go her moorings and was manoeuvring to leave the bay. It was far too dangerous to have 2 large vessels manoeuvring in such confined waters at night, blacked out, and in the middle of a battle. So we had to wait.

In the mean time helicopter gunships had arrived and where spraying the hillside above the base with gunfire and rockets. This was hugely spectacular and worth waiting to see.

So we where all stand by waiting to complete unmooring as soon as the ?American Scientist? was clear. The only crew members who where not at their stations where our Arab firemen who where under the port lifeboat with packed suitcases. They where eventually driven back down the engine room by the 2nd Engineer.

I was up on the bridge as the order was finally given to let go the remaining mooring lines and leave the bay. A manoeuvre which the Captain did brilliantly, his former nerves now seemingly well settled. Our American radio operators still couldn?t get in touch with the base and where more than a little worried sat on the deck on the bridge wing. Our Captains remark to Dave Piggott the helmsman when we finally cleared the bay was ?I don?t know about you Piggot but I think I need a new pair of underpants? Bit of a wag at times our Captain.

And so we spent the night a safe distance offshore to see what the morning would bring.

And the following morning, still no radio contact with the base, so we continued our offshore patrol.
Later in the day we received a message from Shell Tankers that we where to proceed to Qui Nhon to complete the discharge. But then the next problem. Most of our mooring ropes where still attached to the bouys in Vung To Bay and the Captain was loatch to go without them.

So we headed back towards the bay to see if we could get them back. As we approached the bay one of the patrol boats dashed out and a chap with a megaphone demanded to know ?what the fuck are you doing here with that ship Captain ??

The Captain explained that we had been told to go to Qui Nhon but could we have our ropes back first please.

Eventually a party of our crew went into the bay on the patrol boat and towed the mooring ropes out and we said goodbye to our radio men who seemed quite relieved to be off.

From there we sailed to Qui Nhon. Three days later we passed Vung Ro on the way back to Singapore. We could see fighter bombers attacking the hills to the north of the bay. And so it went on.

Postscript

About 8 years later I was on a chemical tanker sailing from Newhaven to Elizabethport. The pilot for Long Island Sound turned out to be the Captain of the other merchant vessel that was berthed alongside the ?American Scientist? and a regular runner into Vung Ro.
Het told me that the Koreans had been moved from the hills around Vung Ro but no one had thought to inform the American troops of this fact. They thought they where well protected but where not.
The other thing he told me was that the ?American Scientist? had a large quantity of napalm on board hence the crew reaction to the near miss.

W.T. Alexander
Hornsea England