A look back in time

The LARCHBANK was one of an 18 ship order and she was completed in 1925. She was destined to suffer a terrible fate, torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-27 in WW2 near the Maldive islands, and with the tragic loss of all the 48 persons board.

An earlier voyage

The engineers on the LARCHBANK in happier times – circa 1927-9 voyage. (Note the box camera of the times.)

The young Apprentices

Captain Andrew Morrow on the left

Photos of the above personnel kindly submitted to ‘banklineonline’ by Lester Morrow, who is the grandson of the Master above. He would welcome any extra information about the vessel, the Master, or the era. Please leave a message below. Many thanks .

A John Farringdon tribute.

John on the left. Harmony St. wharf. New Orleans. 1961

A shipmate from the past has sadly died recently. John Farringdon, who rose to Master in both Bankline and later on cross channel ferries, was a shipmate when he was 2/0 on the Southbank in 1961. Among the memories there was a day and night ashore at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It was 1961 and we teamed up with 2 girls down from UCLA. R.I.P. John.

An interesting article by Captain Bob Blowers

Having spent three years at the London Nautical School and after taking the General Certificate of Education in six subjects, including Navigation and Seamanship, the next step was to go to sea.  It was first necessary to pass a full medical examination and eyesight test.   To avoid oil tankers and experience worldwide trading, I signed indentures in 1955 at the age of 16 with Andrew Weir’s Bank Line and joined, as the junior of three apprentices,  a brand-new ship M.V. Foylebankat Harland & Wolf’s shipyard in Belfast for a five-month trip to U.S. Gulf ports, Australia, South Sea Islands and home.   When we were in Houston, Texas, we were berthed next to an old Bank Line Liberty ship (generally referred to as Sam boats) the Ivybank, loading a similar assortment of cargo for Australia We exchanged visits and their junior apprentice went back along the quay crying after seeing our new and much nicer accommodation and facilities.   I wrote to my parents that “the ship (Ivybank) was the worst I had ever seen.  It was absolutely filthy and the quarters were just shocking.  I hope I never see her again in my lifetime.” 

(Click on the download button for the full article)


This is an interesting first hand account of life as an Apprentice in the 1950’s. Told by Captain Blowers who served his time with Bank Line. The intro only is shown here. (For the full story please click on the orange download button at the end)

A Mystery Voyage with the Bank Line:


Having spent three years at the London Nautical School and after taking the General Certificate of Education in six subjects, including Navigation and Seamanship, the next step was to go to sea.  It was first necessary to pass a full medical examination and eyesight test.   To avoid oil tankers and experience worldwide trading, I signed indentures in 1955 at the age of 16 with Andrew Weir’s Bank Line and joined, as the junior of three apprentices,  a brand-new ship M.V. Foylebankat Harland & Wolf’s shipyard in Belfast for a five-month trip to U.S. Gulf ports, Australia, South Sea Islands and home.   When we were in Houston, Texas, we were berthed next to an old Bank Line Liberty ship (generally referred to as Sam boats) the Ivybank, loading a similar assortment of cargo for Australia We exchanged visits and their junior apprentice went back along the quay crying after seeing our new and much nicer accommodation and facilities.   I wrote to my parents that “the ship (Ivybank) was the worst I had ever seen.  It was absolutely filthy and the quarters were just shocking.  I hope I never see her again in my lifetime.” 

  So, you can imagine my thoughts, when after three weeks leave over the New Year period 1955/56, I received orders to take the train to Hull and join the S.S. Ivybank,that had followed us back from Australia with a bulk cargo of ore of some kind. On the train I met two of the other apprentices joining, the 18-year-old senior apprentice, Terry,  was an old London Nautical School boy, as also was the first trip junior apprentice, Tony, an  old form-mate who had stayed on at school for an extra 6 months.  The second apprentice, John from Dover, joined later and was a year senior to me.  The overnight (non-sleeper) train arrived in Hull at about 5am and we had to kick our heels in the cold until 7am when the nearby seamen’s club opened so that we could get a hot drink and some breakfast  As soon as they opened for the day we made the required visit to the company’s agent in the fabulously named “Land of Green Ginger” where we were given the location of our ship and found her high out of the water with a perilously steep gangway to lug up all our gear.  The joining date was 18th January 1956.


BALTIC COMET was built at Rendsburg, Germany in 1954. Sister of the BALTIC CLIPPER. Ran to the Mediterranean for 12 years in conjunction with SLOMAN, Hamburg. Sold to Pakistani owners in 1966 when she became the PASNI. In 1977 changed hands again , becoming the SEAMOON 1 under Bangladesh owners, and ended her days at Chittagong in 1982.

FOYLEBANK – A birthday at sea..

The ex Russian (Finnish built) FOYLEBANK had capacity for 576 teu’s, and was purchased by the Bank Line in 1995 and fitted out with some passenger cabins. She was then placed on the S. Pacific services.

The birthday card above was drawn by the second Mate, Gareth Armstrong, to mark the birthday of Robbie MacKenzie, the Master’s wife, who has kindly agreed to share it with readers.


The TEAKBANK at Colombo early 1960’s

A closed shelter deck design built in 1958 Sold out of the fleet in 1975 when she became the NEWTON. Photo courtesy of Charlie Stitt and his site. See


The Teakbank was my home for a series of voyages World Wide that over a period over Two years of my life during which time I served as 2nd and 1st Mate on this fine vessel.

Posted by Mike Lindsell


Bank Line navigators will remember the infamous stretch of coast just round the corner from Cape Town heading North, with a grim warning on the Admiralty charts about shifting sands..

Here is an interesting original article complete with photos written by an ex Bank Line man. To read the whole article please click on the orange download button. Happy reading!

See https://oceanjoss for more material…..



The interesting history of the BALTRAFFIC, built in Sunderland at the end of WW1. She was the WAR COPPICE ordered by the government and unwanted as the war ended, so sold to the French government who named her NORD. A year later they sold her to a Lorient based company who fitted her out as a reefer vessel and named her ( imaginatively?) REFRIGERANT. Much later in April 1933 she was sold to UBC and named BALTRAFFIC. During WW2 she went down to New Zealand for the duration of the war and returned to Europe in 1946 resuming her trade on the Baltic run. In 1952 at the age of 34 she was sold to a Pakistani company who named her SAFINA-E-TARIQ and who traded her for 4 more years. Broken up in Karachi in 1956 after 38 years afloat.


The 1938 POZARICA, received an aerial torpedo while on convoy duties in January 1943.

An interesting article follows. Please click on the red download button

Note:(UBC 50% owned by Andrew Weir & Co. and MACANDREWS a 100% subsidiary of UBC.)

See for more from the author

Booth Line – A Liverpool Legend

The Booth Line passanger vessel HILLARY pictured in the Mersey in the 1950’s

An interesting article about the Booth Line by an ex Bank Line man. Liverpool and the Mersey were both to play a big part in any Bank Line career, and it was home to many famous companies such as the Booth Line.

Click on the download button to read the whole article. More at

WESTBANK feature

at sea 1957
A treat for the ‘old timers’ looking in, maybe. The WESTBANK was one of three vessels built after WW2 at the start of the big fleet replenishment that took place. She came into service in 1948 with her sisters, SOUTHBANK and EASTBANK and was a highly successful and hardworking ship spending a lot of time on the ‘Copra’ run bringing back coconut and coconut oil from the Pacific Islands. Popular with staff due to the high probability of a ‘short’ trip of 6 months or less. After 4 years of service she had a narrow escape, grounding on an island in the Indian Ocean and only being freed after a struggle and with some damage. She survived to serve a total of 19 years before being sold on. ( See the story elsewhere on this site).

The 1926 built SPRINGBANK converted for war use. See the models below…

Models by “Junglecat”

(The length overall of the 1:1250 model is 4.16 inches or 10.57 cm)H.M.S. SPRINGBANK

   (The length overall of the 1:1250 model is 4.16 inches or 10.57 cm)

    Class: Auxiliary Antiaircraft Vessel (Sea-Going)

    Displacement: 5,150 tons

    Dimensions: 420.25 (pp) 434 (oa) x 54 x 25.75

    Machinery: 2-shaft Diesel motors, B.H.P. 2,500 = 12 knots

    Armament: 8-4 in. A.A. (4×2), 8-2 pdr. A.A. (2×4);1 aircraft


    Builder: Harland & Wolff (Belfast)

    Launched: 13 Apr 1926


    Notes: Lost 27 Sep 1941



See ‘SPRINGBANK’ entries elsewhere on this site…

For more interesting maritime material see


Myself as C/O of the SOUTHBANK in 1960 with the Lascar deck crew. The men either side of me claimed to be graduates, needing to work as seamen. Serang on the extreme left.

This is an old 1937 wage and provision scale for Lascar Seamen. Water may have been stipulated ” as required” but it was under strict lock and key for issue twice per day!

The Serang and the Chinese ‘ Chippy’


Another of Charlie Stitt’s pictures. This one is the Inverbank in the Panama Canal circa 1962/3

Charlie Stitt
19 hours agoUser InfoINVERBANK

I did a fantastic 20 month trip as 2nd Mate on this fine vessels maiden voyage. A very happy ship with a great bunch of lads. Master Capt John Kemp MBE. Mate Carl Jacobs. C/E Joe Hanover. 2/E Jim Cairns. She was one of the first Bankline ships with the new P type engine so had a few teething problems which kept the Engineers busy. but as professionals, they took it in their stride. Happy Days.


The ill fated Levernbank, built in 1961. She was the home of the author of ” A Tramp for all the Oceans” by Geoffrey Walker. She was lost in 1973, but some years before he had a memorble voyage serving as senior apprentice. See the extract below, or download the whole chapter.

My launch pulled alongside the accommodation ladder and I briskly hopped off taking with me my bags. I was very taken with the ship’s sleek lines. I left the bags with the gangway quarter master and proceeded to the Captain’s deck and respectfully knocked on his office door. Captain Stanton greeted me, sat me down and asked me a few questions about my previous experience. I passed my Passport, Seaman’s and Discharge Book over to him as usual. As I was about to leave, he mentioned that I would be the senior apprentice, the other two having only joined at Belfast and been at sea a couple of months. They needed a leader. I had not expected this but was not disappointed. This meant, being a new ship, as senior apprentice I would have my own cabin. Things were looking up.

My cabin was very comfortable, and reasonably large. The bulkheads were veneered in light Teak; there was a single bunk with drawers below, settee, coffee table, large double locker, writing desk with chair and wash basin. The cabin was also carpeted. A large window opened out and overlooked the port side of the boat deck through which I had an unimpaired view of the sea. The ship was not air-conditioned but was instead fitted with a louvered cooling and ventilation system which was almost as good. I was the first occupant, so everything had that new feel and smell about it. I particularly liked the matching timber work as well as the tasteful curtains and contrasting settee covers all carefully color coordinated. I was impressed. Next to my cabin was the apprentices’ study and adjacent to that a double berth cabin where the other apprentices were bunked. The apprentice’s toilets, showers and laundry were across the passageway. In effect we occupied the entire Port side of the officer’s deck. Forward on the Port side was the Chief Engineer’s suite and office, the Chief Officer enjoyed similar facilities on the Starboard side, also with forward looking windows. Between Chief Engineer and Chief Mate was sandwiched the Radio Officer. The 2nd and 3rd Mates were located on the starboard side. The Master occupied the entire deck above and the engineers the deck below.

The Chief Mate was next on my list; he was on deck when I caught up with him. Ivor Thistlewait was a newcomer to our company and an ex liner Chief Mate. He seemed pleased to have me on board (maybe a bit relieved…) and as we walked aft towards the accommodation he told me that the following morning more or less the same Chinese crew with whom I had recently sailed would be joining. I collected my bags from the gangway where I had left them and followed the Mate to my cabin. The accommodation was very smart and well appointed. He gave me the key to my cabin and said I was to see him later once I had settled in. 

I met up with the other two apprentices, “Ginger” naturally so named because of his flaming red hair and Max. Both were from the UK, Ginger from Yorkshire, and Max from London. We hit it off immediately and for the next two hours Max showed me around the ship. I noted she was fitted with the latest electric winches; she did not have hatch boards but instead large sections of hatch slabs that were lifted and placed by derricks. This at least prevented the backbreaking work of opening and closing of hatches. Her decks were much wider, and she had some 16 derricks. Looking fore and aft from the bridge her streamlined hull form became more evident. She was a beauty…through and through.

See the website for more interesting articles and book details

The 1945 built WEYBANK

The WEYBANK above features in a book whose cover is shown below. It was the author’s first ship…….

Here is Chapter 7 ……………

Our next destination was to be a trip to Nauru Island to load a full cargo of bulk phosphate for Australia. We did not know exactly where in Australia other than our destination would be on the east coast. During our passage to Nauru we were kept busy about the ship along with the crew preparing holds and “bilge diving”, so called cleaning the bilges and strum boxes ready for the loading of the upcoming cargo. We renewed the Hessian we had previously cemented over the bilge well gratings and made certain that all the limber boards remained intact and were well fitting. This work continued right up until our arrival off Nauru Island.

Nauru is an exposed low-lying barren rock consisting substantially of phosphate. At that time most of the phosphate operations were run by Australian expatriates. It is a small island with little to offer other than its remoteness and of course phosphate.

The method of loading in Nauru is for the vessel to tie up fore and aft, to several buoys (all moored in very deep water). Two large, slewing cantilevers protrude from the shore and is the method by which the cargo is conveyed and loaded directly into the ship’s holds thru a telescopic chute to the end of which is attached a rotating trimming machine that can throw product well into the hold or tweendeck extremities. Loading cannot be conducted for obvious reasons if the prevailing swell is too high. This was the case when we arrived, so we steamed some 10 miles offshore to drift in open Ocean until the swell subsided enough for us to return and load. This was considered a prudent distance as the water depth was far too deep to even contemplate attempting to anchor. During this period, I was introduced to shark fishing.

By this time, I had been at sea almost 4 months. I was fit and bronzed, had managed to keep myself out of any real bother with the top brass and was still enjoying life on board.

For reasons best known to them and based on my observations, the sharks always seemed to congregate around the stern of our ship. There were dozens of them milling around just below our gently heaving stern. Large and small alike but all looking extremely sleek, dangerous, and evil as they slowly cruised in incessant circles.

After work we would get an old heaving line, make up a trace out of seizing wire and affix a butcher’s hook, which we obtained from the stewards department (being Chinese they were keen to lay claim to the fins for sharks fin soup).

With the aid of junior engineers and their machine shop lathe we fashioned a barb in the tip of the hook and introduced a semi twist. All this was attached together to make an effective fishing line. We did not use bait but rather tied on colored rags, just above the hook to act as a kind of lure. For the sake of good order, we did however empty some galley food scraps over the stern as well as a little offal to act as a sort of “chum”.

The sharks became frenzied and we tossed our fishing line over the side. Soon we had our first strike. A medium sized specimen and hauling him on to the deck was not a problem. What struck me was how little resistance the sharks put up when hooked. Once landed, we clubbed the shark to put it quickly out of its misery. When dead the crew saw to the fins. The remainder of the shark was used as bait. Some of its teeth were formidable.

Over the course of the next week we hooked some 25 sharks ranging in size from 6 to 9 feet in length. At that time sharks were not protected anywhere but we were humane in our handling of the fish. By the time we proceeded back towards Nauru to prepare for loading there was a string of shark’s fins stretched out about the poop deck, drying in the sun. 

If one had fallen over the side whilst we were drifting, I have no doubt as to the fate that would become the individual concerned.

Loading at Nauru was very rapid, in just over a day we had loaded about 10,000 tons. Battening down was done as quickly as possible so we could sail as other ships were waiting to load at the island’s single facility. The fine dust like phosphate gets everywhere so the entire crew (us included) spent many hours hosing down to rid the vessel of the powder like cargo residues.

As we had been busy all day we did not learn until after we departed Nauru that we had a female passenger on board, accommodated in the Pilot’s cabin up on the Captain’s deck. She was a schoolteacher, working in Nauru, and was on her way back to Australia for vacation. I must say over the next 10 days she kept very much to herself, the only time we ever sighted her was at meal – times or when she sunbathed on the monkey island. A day or so after sailing from Nauru we were advised that our first port of call in Australia would be Cairns, followed by Newcastle (New South Wales), a two-port discharge. There was an air of excitement on board amongst the officers as most had visited Australia many times and it was of course a favorite destination. I did not realize it then, but I was eventually to become a naturalized Australian myself.

About a week after leaving Nauru we arrived at Thursday Island. This is the northern most boarding point for the Great Barrier Reef Pilot Service for ships arriving from our geographical direction. At that time becoming a GBR Pilot was the “crème de la crème” of jobs, offering high pay and much prestige amongst the seafaring community, worldwide.

Our Pilot boarded without any fuss and we set off southwards dodging in and out of the various channels and islands. The pilotage took two days or so and there was only one Pilot, so he was spelled from time to time by our Captain. The Pilot was always about when nearing any difficult spots or shallow patches. Wonderful descriptive names such as; Jardine’s Point (old coaling station at head of Cape York used in the days of the first steamers), Cape Tribulation, Lizard Island, Magnetic island, Endeavour Passage, etc., most dating back to the time of Captain Cooke. The Pilot navigated us the entire route right up until our arrival off Green Island where the Cairns Harbor Pilot came out by launch to board us and take us into the port.

We were lucky and tied up to a jetty quite close to the town area. It was early on a Saturday afternoon and the stevedores were not intending to commence work until Monday. Hence, I had a wonderful chance to stroll ashore unaccompanied and to explore for myself. The town was quite large if not a bit dusty and lay back. The streets were wide. The shops were all set back under verandahs and the pubs were full. The local cinema was an open-air affair, one sitting in a deck chair under the stars watching the big screen. I saw my first Aborigine, bought a Kangaroo skin, fish and chips for my tea to satisfy a sudden craving, and then posted a few letters to my parents from the Seaman’s club. The locals were very friendly.

On the Sunday we went on an outing arranged by the “Missions to Seaman” and made our way up into the rain forest and then to the beach at Yorky’s Knob for a barbeque, before being driven back to the ship late afternoon in time for dinner. What a wonderful day. Soccer matches were arranged for us later during the week after our days work had been completed. Our goalkeeper was none other than our trusty Captain.

Once started it did not take the wharfies long to discharge and trim the designated amount of cargo earmarked for discharging at Cairns and after only a few days we were once again underway making our voyage south along the coast towards Newcastle, located just to the north of Sydney. Newcastle at that time was a major coal exporting port. This time we did not have a Pilot for the coastal passage south.

Arrival at Newcastle was a non-event and we glided into the port early one bright sunny morning, to tie up to a wharf not too far from Hunter Street, the main drag. This time however the stevedores were about their work promptly, discharging into bins and trucks for transport to a distribution point elsewhere.

A few of our officers had been the Newcastle previously and knew the ropes. I was designated the ship’s “entertainment officer” and was tasked with inviting the nurses from the large local Hospital, to come on board for a party. I was reluctant but knew if I did not follow thru with it, I would not be popular. I can still recall the old phone number, B 3324 and ask for nurse……. To my amazement it was as easy as falling off a log! That evening we had a raging party on board in the officer’s smoke room with many nurses attending. Music and enough to eat and drink, smiles and happiness all round. I was popular due to the turn out, but little did everyone know how easy it had been to arrange. From this point forward it would be a piece of cake for me. The party ran most of the night. I will leave it to your imagination to work out the rest.

We were advised by our local agent that as soon as we had discharged we were to clean cargo holds and shift across to the other side of the harbor to one of the coaling berths where we were to load a full cargo of coal for Nagoya in Japan. At last we were heading back towards Asia.

The holds had been cleaned and hosed down in record time after discharging the phosphate. We had obviously done a good job with our earlier “bilge diving” the bilges pumping and emptying easily, then we moved across to the northern side of the port where we were to load.

Our ship squeezed into a berth between the ships “Baron Minto” and “Ridley”; on the next berth was “Fresno City” of Readon Smith’s loading grain at the silo jetty. There was another old Bristol registered tramp steamer that had definitely seen better days, complete with a counter stern but whose name escapes me waiting in line for coal. It seemed to be a popular place for British tramp ships at that time.

Newcastle was geared up for quick dispatch of ships loading bulk coal. Complete railway wagons were run up a ramp of sorts, lifted and contents of coal tipped into the vessel’s hold by a specially designed lifting device and chute. It was all new to me but very impressive and efficient. Loading and trimming took us about 4 days, but we did manage a couple more parties before we had completed our loading. Relationships were starting to blossom between some of the nurses and officers.

We went thru the same routine of rigging temperature sounding pipes in all the cargo holds. I knew the drill well by this time, so we just went ahead and prepared even though it was only about a two and a half week’s voyage to Nagoya. I was very excited about going to Japan and returning to Asia.

The book details and other interesting maritime matters can be seen on the website

My First Command of later years…….(The author started his sea career in the Bank Line)

Click on the red ‘download’ button for the full article.

See the interesting Nautical website maintained by the author at

The author sailed on the LEVERNBANK and the WEYBANK at the start of his career………….

A ” Diarama” of the IRISBANK at Hamburg

Morning at the mouth of the Elbe..
From the south bank near Cuxhaven, the Hapag ship TS “New York” can be seen as it leaves the Elbe behind her on her way to the city of her name. In the opposite direction the British Bank Line freighter “Irisbank” is arriving, destination Hamburg.

This is a diarama, photographed with the two 1:1250 scale miniature models of the ships. The Hapag ship is approximately only 12 cm in length, the Bank Line ship is approxmately 9.5 cm.

Courtesy of

The 1980 WILLOWBANK – The wheelhouse

WILLOWBANK – The 5th ship to carry this name was the last purpose built vessel for the Bank Line. She had a long career but was sold after 8 years to new owners..

The following comment from ‘Premier01’

I remember the ARPA on her. It had “matchsticks” that could be placed on upto12 targets that was your lot.
There were 8 cabins for cadets, supposedly for passies, they were the best acomm on any Bankboat. They had a phone, private shower and toilet, and 3/4 bunks.
It was a shame that its design was flawed. 


and from Chris Lloyd…Willobank had a good sized bar and swimming pool which was covered. Sun bathing often took place on top of the containers accessed by stepping off the accommodation since this was block construction. She was a good ship to work on a run from East coast USA to Australia and New Zealand returning to USA through Panama Canal and then Caribbean ports to USA with a cargo capacity of 768 containers.

The 1929 built FORTHBANK


The FORTHBANK was one of 4 vessels built by Workman Clark,Belfast. She served at the Sicily landings in WW2. The DEEBANK survived and gave 26 years service, and the FORTHBANK served for 24 years before sailing an extra 6 years under the Italian flag.

Edward Watson4 hours agoUser InfoFORTHBANK

I remember being a 1st and 2nd tripper and the old hands going on about ships that used to give 2 decades+ of service, bemoaning that these ships built 63/4 were only good for 16 years and need getting rid of as they would fail their special surveys. We were watching the sun set on an age and we didn’t fully realise it. 😦


A loaded Bank Line liberty ship in all her glory- the ERICBANK. She was one of 12 that the Bank Line owned and managed. They were suited to the contract from the British Phosphate Commission to carry Phosphate rock. Hundreds of voyages were made between Ocean Island/Nauru/(Makatea to a lesser extent) and either Australian or New Zealand discharge ports. (See a first hand account of an interesting sistership voyage – the Maplebank, by searching with the ‘Q’ symbol)

The 1950’s Copra run

The special magic of the Pacific Islands – loading Copra sacks at anchor.

It doesn’t seem so long ago,
Joining sometimes in the snow,
But what a life on the Copra run,
Cruising round the Pacific sun!

First, a visit to Gulf Ports,
The hectic loading of all sorts,
Sailing down to the Antipodes
Then island hopping in Southern Seas.

There were those times, – a precious thing,
When island folk began to sing,
The natural lazy way of life,
Free from worry, free from strife.

It was a gift, we never thought,
Just a job that we had sought,
But looking back it was something special
Joining on that Copra vessel.


The first of the “Fish” class of 6 vessels. Built at Sunderland in 1979. 12,214 gross tons. Powered by a 4 cylinder Doxford engine giving a service speed of 16.5 kts. Part container ship with capacity for 372 teu’s. There was a 60 ton heavy lift derrick and the rest were 35 ton capacity. Sold to the Japanese after 8 years service when she became the DEVO and served for 14 years before scrapping.

LEVERNBANK – The sailing vessel

Plenty of headgear here!

The Master, Officers, and crew on the deck of the four-masted bark LEVERNBANK, Puget Sound port, Washington, ca 1904 

Alan Villiers, the famous author, ship owner, and Cape Horner wrote about incidents on the Levernbank a year after the above photo was taken. An extract is printed below, courtesy of his book called, ” The War with Cape Horn”.

This beautiful ship was abandoned at sea 5 years later when fully loaded with iron ore. She was in the Western Ocean 300 miles west of the Scilly Isles.



Above: Loaded down

Here she is loading flour at Fremantle.

The NAIRNBANK was one of the lucky survivors that went through WW2 unscathed. She was one of the notable order for 18 vessels built at GOVAN by Harlands in 1925. 9 of her sister ships never made it.

This vessel had 33 years afloat in total serving for 28 years for the Bank Line circling the globe – a true stalwart….


The following comments are kindly provided by Richard Wright who was a surveyor at the scene: He is referring here to an account written by the Chief Officer’s wife who was on board, and it can be found elsewhere on this site….. (search Maplebank on the ‘Q’ symbol)

The account is well written and an interesting view of the accident and the re-floating. Ian Lockley, the Salvage Master did use explosives to sink the hulk of the Korean fishing vessel, a good spectacle with the required result.
The re-floating took place on the last of the spring tides and in darkness. There were a few ‘hairy’ moments when the line to the heavy lift tackle on deck parted. The tugs efforts were then moved from the bow to a straight pull from the stern and with a skewing action, she came free. The fishing boat hulk then slid down the underwater cliff but still had lines attached, very quickly let go or cut!
The other interesting point for me was at the start as initially assistance had been accepted by the ships agents from Marine Pacific on an LOF but the master was later advised not to sign the LOF without confirmation from Bank Line HO. The master declined to allow the Marine Pacific rep to board and for the first days, there was a bit of a ‘ ‘mexican stand-off’ whilst the Bank Line super from Sydney (who had arrived on board) tried to re-float her under her own power, without success.


The lead ship of 17 built by Harlands in Belfast. They were a successful design introduced at the end of the break bulk era and on average they served 15 or 16 years for the company. All single screw, they had a simple 5 hatch design with the obligatory deeptanks for oil cargoes. ( See the article, ” A Bank Line Voyage IN 1959″ detailing one of these ships – the 1958 CRESTBANK.)


The 1974 BEAVERBANK, launched 21 years after her 1953 namesake… Sold out of the fleet after 7 years service, her later names were: SANJOHN BAY – SOTIRAS – APOCALYPSIS – SEA GLISTER – VIGOROUS SWAN, and LUCKY 25. Scrapped in 1998.


N J Gilbertson

My first ship as apprentice 1977. Joined Middlesbrough. Loading around Europe for the Persian Gulf, then Australia & New Zealand for East Coast United States Flew home from New York after 6 months. Great start to my seagoing career.

Deryk Johnson

My first trip as Engine Cadet, joined East London, South Africa and did South Africa – Far East for 6 months great times and memories for a Liverpool lad who’d never been out of the UK


The last of the CORABANK class, launched 1974. She spent all of her life in Bank Line ownership just like her sistership, MORAYBANK. The other 4 vessels in the class were all sold on. This ship design was a valient effort to serve the needs of the emerging container market whilst having 11 tanks for oil. Modifications were also made to four of the vessels to carry passengers in double berth cabins. Twin hatches, deck cranes, and portable bulkheads were all features added to get maximum flexibility from the vessels. The record shows that the vessels were switched around on various services and routes, and chartered out when necessary, all in order to survive in very turbulant times.

NB: Interested readers and “nautical buffs” should read Captain John Millars quite moving account of his instructions to beach the CLYDEBANK at Alang for scrapping, Xmas 1999. It is titled – ” Death of a Lady”. (Seach on CLYDEBANK and scroll down).


Two views of the 1937 ESKBANK built as a Doxford economy motortramp, along with the TEESBANK, ETTRICKBANK, and the WILLOWBANK (the second with this name). She seved Bank Line for 27 years.

Captain John Campbell -“

I served on Eskbank for 20 months as App and 3rd Mate in 1955/56, The Masters were Capt Eadie making his last trip prior Promotion to Marine Supt in Calcutta. He was followed by Capt Henry Allan.
I can honestly say that this vessel was maintained to a very high standard and I enjoyed my time there.
We went to many interesting places from New Orleans to Buenos Aires. Our cargoes were Sulphur and Cargo Black . Cotton and tractors. Gunney bags, jute and tea. Bagged and bulk grain.
We also went to Tristan du Cuna with part cargo of supplies plus a hut to be used by the Duke of Edinburgh when he visited the island in 1956.
I left her in Hamburg to obtain my 2nd Mates Certificate.


The elegant lines of the 1964 Doxford built IRISBANK. She later had 14 years service for the N Koreans as the KANG DONG

The 1964 Irisbank was not a Doxford vessel. She was a H and W built and left the yard for her first voyage to Galveston on the 09 09 1964. I was the 6th engineer and first trip which lasted 15 months. Master was nwl Kent.and the chief was Dougie Buck. . There was no love lost between these two……………

from John Lilley – thanks.

Correct – She was one of the 11 TAYBANK class that were built at Doxford’s. However, the second batch of 5 vessels including the IRISBANK were all built at Harlands in Belfast.

Moraybank building in 1973