I joined the Tokyo Bay in Southampton and left there in 1996. Apart from a day trip to France as a teenager, it was my first major trip abroad.
The route was from Europe to the Far East, stopping in Algeciras, then through the Suez Canal, Jeddah, Jebel Ali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Pusan, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Singapore, Suez Canal transit, Algeciras, then Southampton.
It was a hell of a trip and a real eye opener for me as a first trip cadet with P&O Containers. The ship hadn't long been flagged out from UK register to Bermuda, so the Filipino crew had not been on long.
Even though the ship was an old one, it was still a lovely ship, obviously no expense spared when it was built. The accommodation was lovely, big cabins etc. It had a teak barbecue at the back of the accommodation with a pool.
It had twin screw engines, though originally it was a steamship and apparently could do 25 knots astern.
Due to it primarily being designed for the Far East, it had a car deck built under the poop deck for transporting cars back from Japan, though it wasn't used when I was there. It was an incredible space and was used for playing football instead.
There was a legendary story about a man killed many years before at a drydock in Germany. I believe he was trapped or fell inside a tank or hold. Therefore, the crew used to say watch out for 'Herman the German' and there were many strange stories of seeing or hearing people near where the incident happened.
To be honest, on a containership and especially an old one, you always hear creaks and squeals whilst the vessel is at sea, so I always believed it was just a story.
I did take a photo of the Radio OP. I only ever sailed with two in all my time at sea as with GMDSS coming in they were phased out. A shame as they were amazing to learn from and held good conversation in the bar!
That's all about all I can remember, though it is a trip deep in my memory.
Get together with old Clan Line shipmates
The annual Clan Line reunion will take place at The Liner Hotel in Liverpool on Wednesday 4 October 2023.
New ship designs surely contravene maritime law
I am distressed by the number of ships being built with crew accommodation forward. The new Maersk ships are the last straw.
In memory of Henk Lafèbre
I have been advised by his family that former Nautilus trustee director Henk Lafèbre died on 21 December after a brave battle with cancer.