STORM AND COMPANY
|This was the second of six ships named Eastgate and owned by Turnbulls; built in 1915 and sold to a Greek company in 1937.|
|Captain Frank||SS EASTGATE|
Captain Robert Dunn Frank who commanded the SS EASTGATE owned by Messrs Turnball, Scott and Co, of London wrote an account, as a matter of professional interest, of the services he rendered earlier in the year of 1934 to one of his own company ships, SIS HAGGERSGATE. He fell in with this ship in the vicinity of Cape Finisterre, when it was drifting helplessly in very heavy weather, with all the blades from her propeller gone, stern post broken, and rudder bent. Captain Frank's account is given here and readers will appreciate that the salving of this ship, having regard especially to the weather conditions which prevailed, was a remarkably good bit of work, for which Captain Frank, his officers and men deserve due praise. This account was written originally for the DOLPHIN AND GUILD GAZETTE.
It is kindly presented here by Captain Frank's son, Adrian Storm Frank, who also presented the photo of the SS Eastgate. Adrian reembers a voyage with his parents to South America in 1934 aboard SS Eastgate.
On Friday 19th January 1934 SS EASTGATE, when on passage from BUENOS AIRES to BELFAST, was steaming through a strong gale when a wireless message was received from SS HAGGERSGATE stating that she had lost all blades from her propeller also that her stern post was broken and her rudder badly bent. At that time EASTGATE was 75 miles from Cape Finisterre and 25 miles from HAGGERSGATE. Course was immediately altered and a new course set for HAGGERSGATE at 3.40pm, and at 7.45pm her two red lights for a vessel not under command was picked up. At 8.15pm we were manoeuvring around her. Considering weather conditions, darkness, rolling of both vessels, etc, I decided to await daylight before attempting connection. A safe distance was therefore steamed from HAGGERSGATE and the engine stopped, thus we laid all night. When daylight came we steamed towards HAGGERSGATE. The wind was still N/W, the gale moderating, and the HAGGERSGATE lay in the trough of the sea with her head to the westward,. I approached steaming round her stern to leeward. When abeam and close I sent a boat away with a coil of three and a half inch Manila rape, then steamed slowly ahead taking up a position close on her port side. It was then that the rapid drift of the HAGGERSGATE became apparent.This I estimated to be about three miles per hour. The boat got the line safely on board HAGGERSGATE but before the five inch towing wire could be connected she had drifted past the EASTGATE, and with my engines stopped EASTGATE could not be manoeuvred in time to prevent the rope from breaking.
I then had to manoeuvre for another attempt. I again came round her stern, sent the boat away with two coils of three and a half inch Manila, steamed ahead and laid at right angles to HAGGERSGATE head into wind. I found this useless, for as soon as way was off my ship she wanted to lay the same as HAGGERSGATE and, in the trough of the sea, she would not answer the helm. This also applied when to windward of her for as soon as she was eased down she lost steerage in such a big sea and fell off nto the trough, with HAGGERSGATE rapidly blowing away from her.
However, we squared up and came around her stern for our third and successful attempt. This time we sent one coil of three and a half inch with a small mooring wire attached. This in turn was shackled to our five inch wire, and the boat got the rope on board HAGGERSGATE. Again she drifted past. It was a case of working engines and helm to manoeuvre EASTGATE back into position again without breaking the small ropes. This was eventually accomplished in very little room and very close to HAGGERSGATE. HAGGERSGATE then, as prearranged, made my big wire fast to the end of his starboard cable; the anchor being stopped off, of course, and paid out to sixty fathoms.
The five inch wire was brought in through our port quarter lead on the poop, then a round turn taken on the first pair of bitts on poop; then a round turn taken on second pair of bitts on the after part of the long bridge deck. It was then taken right along the deck to a pair of bitts on the forepart of the bridge deck, where a round turn was taken; then a round turn was taken on forecastle head bitts and finally the end was made fast to our port anchor shackle as it lay in hawse- pipe. A round turn and two half hitches completing the connection.
|Watercolour by Elizabeth K M Storm|
We towed her this way for seventeen hours. I then instructed the captain to slack out another fifteen fathoms in order to change the nips and further lessen the strain on the towing hawser. Towing in this way distributed the strain throughout the full length of my ship, and all turns were covered with tallow every two hours. We towed her in this manner to Ferrol, a distance of one hundred miles, without the slightest trouble, although both vessels rolled violently all through the night. When approaching Ferrol we eased down, then stopped in order to shorten cable on account of water getting less in depth; we then proceeded into the harbour entrance.
All the time towing was in process the hawser and cable were well under water, and on completion EASTGATE was without the slightest damage.
HAGGERSGATE has a deadweight capacity of 9,600 tons and EASTGATE 7,652 tons. Ferrol is a beautiful natural landlocked harbour, but there are no official pilots. However, the unofficial ones are very good. A wireless message must be sent giving time of vessels arrival in order that pilot may be ready, otherwise no pilots will be found when port is reached.
ROBT.D.FR.ANK, Master, S.S.Eastgate.