I am always happy when reading the Bank Line forum on SN, it is really enjoyable learning of the experiences of others who served that legendary company. With regard to strandings and losses, I was 5/Eng on the Levernbank when she foundered off Matarani, Peru, back in 1972. I was on watch with the 3/Eng at the time the ship struck rocks during the early hours somewhere around 03.00 hrs. The propeller also hit rocks as the ship turned away which wrapped the blades round the rudder this took the main engine out and that was it. Within what seemed seconds the crew were into their paying off suits, jackets stuffed with cartons of fags, and ready for the off. The crew and those officers who wished to leave the ship were taken ashore by fishing boats. The ship had torn open from the stem back to No2 hold, 23 foot of water in these holds within minutes,these holdswere loaded with bales of paper pulp which started to expand with frequent loud bangs as the ships plates parted, and the tween decks buckled. The deck officers, myself, the second and third engineer stayed on board, keeping pumps and generators running, for the two days she lasted before the Peruvian Navy took her in tow.The Peruvians intended to tow the ship to a suitable place to beach her but the tow parted and she went back ashore close to where she originally grounded. At the end when Captain Steers gave the oder to abandon ship, the forward deck was almost awash and sitting on the poop you could look over the top of the funnel, time to go, and we were taken off by local fishing boats. The ship had a good crowd onboard, Levernbank on that trip was probably best described as a happy ship with loads of laughs and good humour,as well as hard work, it was such a pity that the voyage ended in this way. As I remember it, Capt Lewis Steers, C/O Harry’Matt’ Dillon,C/Eng Stan Gough 2/Eng Alec Wood ( I don’t speak to junior Engs before 7 AM),3/E Geff Miller 4/E Fred Kennedy, 6/E Arnie Atkinson, 1 EL?. 2 EL Terry? (from cardiff)
Last edited by jedward
The ship was loaded on the Bay of Bengal West coast S.A. service, we had done what I imagine was the normal run up the coast discharging at Punta Arenas, Valparaiso, Antofagasta and other ports I can’t remember now.
We had radar problems which were supposed to have been sorted in Durban, but the only real outcome was that the Sparky had his camera pinched by the radar ‘engineer’, and the system went back on the blink as we crossed the bar out of port.
As I recall, Matarani would’nt accept vessels at night, so the plan was to stop and drift until daylight, seems anchoring was not possible, not sure why but the Chief reckoned the sea was too deep – don’t know myself. Anyway as we tracked along up the coast there seems to have been an understimation of our actual distance from shore. The turn to seaward to drift was interrupted by a bump, which I took to be a collision with a fishing boat but which was in fact our first contact with the Peruvian mainland, the engine was still full ahead at this time, when we suddenly got standby followed immediately a double full astern ring followed, and then by a major bang and the engine stopped dead. I ran down the tunnel to see the tail shaft about three feet out of line with the last two bearing pedestals tipped over by about 30 degrees. I reported this to the second who condsidered the best thing to do was put the kettle on!
When dawn broke and all was revealed, the ship was inside a small cove and was a perfect fit, couldn’t have got it in there if you wanted to. The cove or inlet I suppose was enclosed by high cliffs upon which were stood several of the local population taking the michael.
A tug was sent from the port to assist but went off in the wrong direction, a couple of distress rockets soon had it coming our way. The tug towed the ship out to deeper water where we attempted to asses damage and keep the ship afloat in the vain hope that assistance was a realistic prospect – it wasn’t. The ship was abandoned aboard local small anchovy fishing boats, and so onwards and upwards after an enforced stay in Peru whilst our illegal immigrant status was resolved ( all discharge books etc, including the overtime records were lost). Finally, I must agree wiith Marconi Sahib – Harry Dillon was indeed a top bloke.