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Clan Macgillivray

Vessel type Cargo
Year launched 1962
Cargo type Various
Country of build Scotland

Launched in September 1962, the Clan Macgillivray was one of the first vessels in the UK merchant fleet to feature extensive levels of engineroom automation.

The build

The Clan Macgillivray was the 16th Clan Line vessel to have been built by the Greenock Dockyard Company. The 8,811grt was powered by a six-cylinder Barclay Curle Sulker-type turbocharged Diesel engine, developing 8,500bhp at 118rpm. Clan Macgillivray had a service speed of 16.5 knots and was equipped with three Rolls-Royce diesel generators, which earned a reputation for being very noisy.

The ship featured an air-conditioned and partially sound-insulated engine control room from which an officer could monitor systems, manoeuvre the main engine, start and stop pumps and control and parallel the diesel generators.

Automatic controls and alarms were provided for temperature, pressure and other systems. Remote and automatic controls meant that on an ordinary seagoing watch only one engineer officer and one greaser were required.

The bridge design was uncluttered, with instruments in the wheelhouse grouped and fitted in consoles in suitable ergonomic positions. Equipment included a Decca navigator, and hand and automatic steering gear controlled electrically from the bridge by an Arkas autopilot linked to a Sperry gyro compass.

Douglas Tennant, general secretary of the Nautilus predecessor union Merchant Navy & Airline Officers' Association (MNAOA) noted that the Clan Macgillivray was one of the first in the UK fleet to feature extensive levels of engineroom automation, and he expressed concerns on the impact of automation upon seafarers.

'What we are face with now is the speed-up of a hitherto slow trend to automation,' Mr Tennant said. 'While MNAOA does not intend to attempt anything to futile as to stand in the way off the march of progress, it certainly intends to everything to ensure that seafarers are not penalised by new developments and that they get their fair share of any benefits flowing from them.'

Clan Line responded to these concerns by stating that the high level of automation was intended to minimise operating costs and maximise the efficiency of the carriage and handling of cargo.

'We are undergoing the stiffest international competition in our history,' warned company chairman Lord Rotherwick. 'We have got to remain competitive and therefore we have to have new, up-to-date economic equipment.'

When trials were completed in August 1962, Clan Line proudly boasted the vessel would operate with a 20% saving on engineroom crewing costs. In reality, the company had been following the footsteps of Japanese owners, who had pioneered the use of remote-control engineering systems in 1960.

Clan Macgillivray Fact File


The Clan Macgillivray made its first maiden voyage from Liverpool to India with a British master, 13 officers and four cadets, and 44 Asian ratings.

Originally laid down for King Line as King Edward, Clan Macgillivray traded extensively between the UK, South and East Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and Australia, and was switched to the King Line fleet in 1969 before returning to Clan Line in 1977.

By this time parent company British & Commonwealth was rapidly diversifying and running down its shipping interests. Clan Macgillivray was one of the last Clan Line ships in service, but was sold in 1981 and operated as the Hong-Kong flagged Clan Macboyd before scrapping in Shanghai in October 1984.


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