02/02/2009 - 07:59
In the mid 1950s I was an engineer for over a year on "Neocardia".
I joined the ship in Geelong,Victoria and ranged over most of the
world,from Australia, U.K.,South America,Finland,Germany,Holland,
Persian Gulf,and most countries in the Mediteranian.
Some of the time was in the Far East.
I was 4th Engineer on watch as we were leaving the Lake Berre refinery
in the south of France with a load of petrol.The passage out to the Med.
was across the lake,through a canal to Port-de-Bouc and the open sea.
Approaching the entrance at half speed I recieved an emergency astern
which I responded to with much starting air and noise.
A minute or so later we felt the ship take to the ground,listing and
righting again as it came free.
Almost immediately petrol fumes came down the ventilators.
I told the cadet engineer to report to the Chief Engineer on deck,and
sent the 5th Engineer to shut the boiler furnaces off.
The Second Engineer then appeared and described how a barge hidden by the
break wall crossed us and was hit midships and pushed up on to the wall.
The family and their dog managed to scramble ashore.
The Radio Officer with great presence of mind recorded the whole thing
on film,and all on board recieved copies.
We got clear and went well out to sea to clean the tank and gas free.
WE had to return to the Berre refinery to discharge the cargo to allow
drydocking.As we passed through the canal returning,the ship recieved
a typical Gallic reaction with much shaking of fists and other gestures.
Every cloud has a silver lining.We had a welcome stay in Marseilles
for some weeks as the damaged plating was repaired.