Category Archives: Bank Line

A site for any Bank Line related material


Grateful thanks to Peter Ferrer who has sent in the following pictures and details of his voyage as second apprentice on the FLEETBANK way back in the 1960’s!

2nd Trip Details on M.V. Fleetbank Apprentice P G Ferrer

Below are the details of a typical copra run when I was 2nd apprentice.  I didn’t take many notes but did record all the crew, ports, distances etc which are shown below.  Digital cameras were not invented and as an apprentice money was short, so taking pictures was at a premium.  Many accounts have been written of the Copra run and mine was no different, but Washington Island and Christmas Island were an experience not to be forgotten.  

The view from the remote Washington Island. The stranded SOUTHBANK in the foreground with the FLEETBANK standing off.

Washington Island

Southbank wreck on Washington Island

A distant view of the stranded and wrecked SOUTHBANK on Washington Island 1965. Taken from the FLEETBANK – photo courtesy of Peter Ferrer

Southbank forepart seen through the trees with the Fleetbank further out. Photo courtesy of Peter Ferrer

A full account of the tragedy with pictures can be seen on this site ( search for Southbank)

The wreck shortly after grounding

The last 100 articles……


(Use arrows below – left or right – to scroll through the last 100 posts – enjoy the trip!)

Places we visited….


Kobe was a regular call for Bank Line vessels

The ‘old’ ERNEBANK visited Kobe with bagged sugar for discharge

The Kobe, or Great Hanshin, earthquake struck in the pre-dawn hours of January 17, 1995, with a magnitude of 7.3 near the city of Kobe, about 350 km (210 miles) southwest of Tokyo. It killed more than 6,400 people. Damage was estimated at $100 billion.

Pictures of the modern port

See the book below. Available on Amazon

“Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955”

Links to the archives….

Previous articles………

This is a list of some earlier posts in a random order. Just click on the heading and download any to read.

First trip Fleetbank….

This true account kindly submitted by Peter Ferrers who joined the Fleetbank as an Apprentice in May 1964.

The FLEETBANK was one of the highly successful ‘ Copra’ vessels serving for 17 years. Usually, but not always, voyages lasted around 5 months loading from US Gulf ports for Australasia and returning home through the Pacific islands with Copra. The programming of vessels in the Bank Line was always subject to change and for those onboard this meant a level of uncertainty and some curiosity re the length of voyage and the itinerary.

For an even earlier account from the 1950’s see the book, ” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951 – 1955″ available from Amazon as either an e book or a printed version.

Vagaries of a first Command

Geoffrey Walker has kindly submitted the following article detailing the ‘ups and downs’ of serving as Master on deepsea vessels. Geoffrey commenced his sea-going career in the 1960’s in the Bank Line.

The author of the article maintains a maritime site, full of interest at

An original article

The Auxilliary cruiser Michel

Read the interesting story of a war-time raider!

One of the victims

Written by Geoff Walker. His Maritime site can be viewed at

The link to the full article is above

See Bank Line ebooks to buy with paypal at Printed versions on Amazon.

John I Jacobs & Co Ltd – London

An interesting and original article written and edited by Geoffrey Walker. See his speciality maritime site at

The whole article may be read by downloading – click the link above

Christmas is approaching -Bank Line ebooks are at


A slide show featuring Pikebank,Tenchbank, Roachbank, Dacebank, Ruddbank, Troutbank. Please use the arrows to see the images…

The newly formed Sunderland Shipbuilders completed all 6 of the ‘ Fish’ class Bank Line vessels in 1979. They were purchased in turbulant times, as the rush to containers challenged the whole industry. Designed with the maximum flexibility for the rather unique trades of the company, they were a partial success. Most stayed 8 years before being sold on.

Other companies….

Court Line Ltd

The Errington Court was the Empire Favour

( The Bank Line Empire Franklin was renamed Hazelbank)

Click on the link to see the whole article

This original article written and edited by Geoff Walker whose site has more…

Bank Line ebooks are at

A fine Geoff Walker article

Austasia Line

Click on the download button above to read the full article

An original, unpublished article about the history and vessels of the Austasia Line, centered on Singapore.

Please see Geoff Walker’s own maritime site at Many interesting postings of stories, paintings, and sea related memorabilia

Life in the Bank Line throughout the 1950’s is the subject of a book called, ” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955″ available on Amazon or directly from –


IMO7422740.Built 1977 for Bank Line Ltd, (A. Weir & Co. Ltd ), London, by Sunderland Ship Builders Ltd, Pallion yard, Sunderland. grt 11,173, dwt 16,875, spd 17 knts, General Cargo. 1981 Sold to Buckingham Maritime Corporation, Piraeus renamed ALKAIOS. 1994 Renamed GEORGE. 24-3-2000 Broken up at Alang.

The Nessbank held the record for the shortest time in the fleet for a new building, just 4 years.

Places we visited…


now Banjul, Gambia

Bathurst was a fairly regular stop for Bank Line vessels discharging around Africa.

The ‘old’ Irisbank was there in 1956 when there was a change of officers, the new arrivals came out on a Viking aircraft, and those leaving spent 2 days returning on the same aircraft, stopping overnight in Gibraltar.

Banjul, formerly (until 1973) Bathurst, city, capital, and Atlantic port of The Gambia, on St. Mary’sIsland, near the mouth of the Gambia River. It is the country’s largest city. It was founded in 1816, when the British Colonial Office ordered Captain Alexander Grant to establish a military post on the river to suppress the slave trade and to serve as a trade outlet for merchants ejected from Senegal, which had been restored to France. Grant chose Banjul Island (ceded by the chief of Kombo) as the site, which he renamed St. Mary’s. He named the new settlement for Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst, then colonial secretary. It became the capital of the British colony and protectorate of Gambia and after 1947 was governed by a town council. With The Gambia’s independence in 1965, the town was granted city status and became the national capital. The name was changed to Banjul in 1973.

Banjul, Gambia

The present airport. In 1956 it was a shed affair with a metal mesh runway.

See the book, ” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955″ for accounts of voyages back then

Joining in the 1950’s

By Alan Rawlinson

It doesn’t seem so long ago,
the winches hissing and clanking in the snow.
There’s a lovely smell of warmed up oil and steam,
and Copra’s spread there, on the beams.

Hoses, cables, boards, and battens,
are strewn around in  random patterns.
There was nothing like a Bank Line ship,
home at last, from a 2 year trip.

See the cabins, glossy white,
narrow bunks with quilts tucked tight,
Then comes the tea, thick and treackly,
brought by stewards, ever so meekly.

So, an alien world, but let it be known,
some of us, – we called it home!

Places we visited..


Trinidad, Point Fortin, was a regular call for outbound Bank Line ships loading bitumen drums for Australa or NZ ports. It was the first foreign port for the author asa first trip apprentice on the FORTHBANK in 1951

Loading took place at anchor offshore, and trips ashore to the Shell club usually were enabled. First foreign port for a first tripper left everlasting memories. The Cicadas at night making their loud racket, and the calm of the morning at anchor without a sound and the sea like glass. It was magical.

More accounts of Bank Line voyages can be read in the book, ” Voyaging with Icons”

Palm Line

Many Bank Line folk will remember seeing the Palm Line vessels on the West African Coast with their distinctive funnel sporting a palm. Here is an article summarising the fleet, and kindly submitted by Captain Geoffrey Walker in Melbourne. He has a fascinating Maritime site at

To read the full article, please click on the download button above.

A book about the Bank Line experience is called, ” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955″. It is available in print or as an ebook via Amazon.


A great view of the foredeck on the old timer – FLEETBANK. Not a container in sight! These decks, usually Oregon pine, were a sheathing over steel. When holystoned, and wet with spray, they glistened in the sun. In port they often took a beating – gouged and chewed up by beams being crashed down, and sometimes stained with cargoes like bitumen or oil, but somehow the appearance always recovered.

Photo kindly supplid by Peter Ferrer who was onboard the Fleetbank

King Line Ltd

(click on the link to download)

An article re the ‘King Line’, penned by the author Captain Geoffrey Walker . His website, has an interesting variety of Maritime postings.

Books on the Bank Line include:

” Voyaging with Icons”

” Any Budding Sailors”, and,

” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955″

Fleets we knew..

Stag Line

Stag Line was one of the many British shipping companies on the world maritime stage during the pre-container era.

The following article has been penned by the maritime author, Geoff Walker whose own website ( is an interesting collection of all things maritime.

Click on the link to download and read

Some books with Bank Line content are called:

” Any Budding Sailors?”

” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951-1955″

” Voyaging with Icons”

All available from Amazon online.

Places we visited..


The Inchanga (above) was in Beira , Mozambique, every few weeks on the India/Africa passenger service. Both loading and discharging was normal. In her day, it meant anchoring for longish periods in the river and suffering the heat and the Tstse flies while working as an apprentice. Today, a modern port offers berths alongside.,

A book titled, ” Voyaging with Icons” describes life on the Bank Line ships

Places we visited…

Hong Kong

Hong Kong harbour saw many Bank Line ships come and go, occasionally just for a crew change. The stunning location was hard to beat, and ashore in the early days everything that jack tar could ever need was available with many bars and haunts offering a variety of food and drink. A couple of pics below capture the 1950’s scene – star ferry terminal and a busy street.

The book, ” Merchant Navy Apprentice 1951 – 1955″ is about life circling the world in the 1950’s.

Places we visited.

Ports of New Guinea

Many Bank Line folk will have memories of the New Guinea ports, good or otherwise! The following comprehensive article was penned by the Maritime author, Captain Geoffrey Walker. Grateful thanks to him.

Press the Download button to read the article

Geoffrey’s book which is a memoir is called ” A Tramp for all the Oceans” See his site – to purchase

Places we visited..


Cotonou in Benin was a regular call for Bank Line ships discharging gunny bales from India. Back in the 1950/60’s dischaging was carried out to lighters out at anchor, but today there is a thriving port.

The Irisbank visited Cotonou several times

Cotonou  is the economic center of Benin. Its official population count was 761,137 inhabitants in 2006; however, some estimates indicate its population to be as high as 2.4 million.

In addition to being Benin’s largest city, it is the seat of government, although Porto-Novo is the official capital.

The urban area continues to expand, notably toward the west. The city lies in the southeast of the country.

See the book, ” Any Budding Sailors”, available on Amazon for accounts of life in the Bank Line.

Places we visited…


Shanghai was visited by Bank Line vessels both discharging and loading. Visits to this memorable city offered everything that could ever be needed plus a fascinating history and scenic views etc.

The old Lindenbank was bound for Shanghai with wheat when she stranded

More accounts of life in the Bank Line are in the book called, ” Any Budding Sailors?” available from Amazon.