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Hawkey01 19th April 2017 14:00

A 1960s' Tanker
A 1960 TANKER.

I passed my 1st class PMG certificate in October 1964 at the North Eastern School of Wireless Telegraphy in Bridlington Yorkshire. Like many others, I joined Marconi to start my seagoing career. My first ship as a Junior was a Shell tanker named OPALIA/GLQA which was a very new ship, some 18 months old. 32122 tons. A very good looking vessel with superb accommodation. Also, a very well fitted Radio Room with Hermes/Argus radars.

I joined with the relieving Capt Alec Brown and other officers and I seem to remember some wives. We sailed on the overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook and we were booked into the Rijn Hotel in Rotterdam. Due to fog in the channel we had about 4 days there before the ship berthed in Europort.

Some of the dates given are from my discharge book as we signed on/off every time we hit UK/Europe.

Signed on Rotterdam 14th Dec 1964.
Sailed from there to Le Havre then on to Banias Syria.
Sailed from there on 25th Dec. bound Thameshaven 3rd Jan 1965.
Thameshaven – Port Harcourt.
Port Harcourt – Ellsemere Port. 29th Jan1965.
We called at Las Palmas cannot remember how this fitted in. My photo of her alongside in Las Palmas shows her fully loaded.
Ellsemere to some Med ports – La Skihra Tunisia, Milazzo Sicily, Port de Bouc France. Then on to the PG – Mina Al Ahmadi.
Mina – Thameshaven.
Thameshaven – Mina , Rastanura.
From the Gulf we sailed to Whangarei New Zealand.
Whangarei to Paula Bukom via the barrier reef. We were told that we were the largest vessel to have transited the barrier reef at that time. A very spectacular run from Brisbane to Thursday Island under pilotage.
Pulau Bukom back to the Gulf, most likely Mina or Rastanura. I cannot remember which. From the Gulf back to Ellesmere port were I eventually was paid off on 10th Aug 1965 some 8 months.

Neville - Hawkey01

Lucy Knight 7th June 2017 20:37

The Opalia had become a cadet training ship by 1975. Still acted as tanker but less crew and cadets did the work instead. Lectures/training etc on board for them. In 1977 it was the Opalia that was picked representing Shell in the Spithead Review.

Hawkey01 8th June 2017 10:26


The regular Capt of Opalia during my time was Capt James Brittain. Infamous in many ways and not the easiest person to get on with. Fortunately he liked the Radio dept so we had an easier time than many.
During that time we had Chinese crew and one of my fondest memories was being invited to join them for the Chinese New Year celebrations. All officers were invited to the crew mess room for the
feast. Amazing food and plenty of alcohol. Normally we only had Chinese food once a week if we were lucky as JB did not like it. Hence most of the European food was pretty dire. Mind you we had to be very careful with the drink as JB checked our intake and of course we were underway. He used to check the bar book regularly to see who was drinking what and the quantity.


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