← Ships, Radio Rooms and Radio Officers
Jim Loughlin on boardShell VLCC Mactra/GYKR. Jim left in December 1969 and 3 weeks later Mactra exploded whilst tank cleaning. After the BOT enquiry many safety changes were made in respect of tank cleaning on VLCC’s.
In 1983 I sailed with a certain Chief Engineer who had been on the Mactra at the time of the explosion. Apparently his wife had been sunbathing up on the monkey island at the time and suffered quite severe burns. The experience had a deep effect on both of them. In 1983 he was still blaming the Mactra’s Radio Officer because apparently before the explosion there had been a message sent to GZWF (all Shell Tankers under UK flag) containing new instructions for tank cleaning, but the R/O had been busy making link calls at the time and so missed it.
This C/E saw to it that every R/O he sailed with from then on had as miserable a trip as possible. In my case he did a pretty fair job… I only managed one further trip to sea and then gave it up while my sanity was still (almost) intact.
He’s one of only two officers I met in my seagoing career about whom I wrote in my signing off report, “never ask me to sail with this … gentleman … ever again”.
Maybe today’s ideas about dealing with post traumatic stress aren’t so daft after all.
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