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.” 

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