The Blue Funnel Line

SS Hector


Peter John Lyne


This is all I have of my Blue Funnel Line Days that I am able to send by email. I have a large painting of SS Hector sailing down the Mersey with the Royal Liver Buildings in the background. Two Ross tugs (?) are standing on station in the foreground. This is one of David Shepard's and it is a reproduction of an original oil painting.

Naturally I still have my memories. Not suffering with dementure yet. I signed on Hector in Brisbane, April 1961 when I was 18, as Supernumerary Midshipman, at the princely sum of 1/- a month. Big whoop! For memory, the Master was Richard Hannay as I recall signing the Indentures. The other Middies were Pat Kennedy, Gerry Pengally and the senior guy I've forgotten his name. The vessel was loading for UK and next port was Sydney, my home town. We were doing 23 knots at one stage so we must have picked up a good southerly current, off the continental shelf. Cargo loaded in Sydney amongst other things were large barrels of wine, frozen lamb carcasses, wool and bundles of sawn timber as I recall. Next port was Aden, then onto Gulf of Suez awaiting next Northerly Convoy. Memories of bum boats alongside and Arabs trying to flog dirty photo's or selling their 'sister'. Passed by the hospital at Ishamalia (?). Something different transiting that canal and seeing camels plodding across the desert sands from the deck of a large ship.

Bordeaux and Antwerp were only short stops though we did overnight in Antwerp and made the best of it. The Mate let us loose ashore. Pat drank a glass 'boot of beer' and won the competition. I remember an incident the next morning when we were washing down the fore decks. We noticed some railings bent on the foremast house and learnt later on that the Captain's 'tiger' was slightly under the influence after the night ashore, returned to the ship and climber the bloody mast apparently after some bet with his Scouse mates. I believe he got to the truk and from there and abouts is where he fell from. Got up and walked bones broken, just slightly bruised! Incredible. Could only happen when your pissed.

The Channel was covered in fog, reduced speed to dead slow ahead. Couldn't see the fore deck from the bridge.
Stopped. Dropped the pick and did anchor watches doing turns on the bow, on the bridge and racing around the stern with the gong needless to say we gained practical knowledge of Rule 33 and 35.Though on reflection I reckon the Master got a few more grey hairs. Echoes all over the radar ppi. I remember one ship passing close to us as you could hear the thump thump thump of her engines but not a sight to be seen. A real pee-souper was that fog!



Menu off the Hector from 1961

Eventually rounded Holyhead and up the Mersey to Gladstone Docks (?) I stayed at Holm Lea, Aigbuth Vale for some time. Failed the eye sight test, smokey lantern test was enough to snuff you out. That put paid to going on deck for me as far as the Mercantile Marine Office were concerned. Undeterred I joined ED's Purser's Staff for about four years. Returned to Australia on Qantas 707 in September 1964. Sailed with Burns Philp to New Guinea and the Solomonís as Assistant Purser. Later lived in PNG, got my ticket for the Inter-Island and coastal trade on various ships as 2nd Mate, Mate and Master. So there you have it. Wasn't colour-blind at all!! Out here they used Electric lights and followed up with the Ishiharu Test.


Many Thanks to Peter for this fascinating account and menu.


Timetable for 1959


Vessel Brisbane Sydney Melbourne Adelaide Port Said Genoa Dunkirk Antwerp Liverpool Belfast Glasgow
Helenus Aug 15th Aug 21st Sep 5th   Sep 25th   Oct 3rd Oct 6th Oct 7th?   Oct 14th
Hector Sep 5th Sep 12th     Oct 3rd Oct 7th     Oct 13th Oct 20th Oct 22nd
Ixion Oct 31st   Nov 7th Nov 14th Dec 3rd   Dec 11th Dec 13th Dec 15th   Dec 22nd
Jason Nov 28th Dec 5th     Dec 26th Dec 30th     Jan 5th   Jan 12th



"H" Boats / Built

Year                          In the Blue Funnel Fleet Tonnage
Helenus / Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast. 1949 Scrapped in Kaohsiung, 1972. 10,125gt
Hector / Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast. 1949 Scrapped in Kaohsiung, 1972. 10,125gt
Ixion / Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast. 1951 Scrapped in Barcelona, 1972. 10,125gt
Jason / Swan Hunter, Wallsend-on-Tyne. 1950 Scrapped in Kaohsiung, 1972. 10,160gt


Thanks to;

Mr Gwyn Jones, for the 1959 Timetable.

And Capt Neville Lester and Capt Gwilym Owen and Mr R Williams, for the photographs.


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