Ferry van Eeuwen
I almost spent a full two years on board the ship only to be broken by two drydocking periods in Amsterdam and one other short stay in Rotterdam in between. There always seemed to be a shortage of personnel and especially single persons like me were kept running in the mill all the time. If you protested you were looked at with suspicion as if you were some alien species babbling an unknown tongue. What does he want, what is he talking about? Already asking for another leave? What an ungrateful creature..... That being said I must hasten to add that this ships was the best of all the ships I sailed on. It was so much the ship but the company, the other officers and crew members. I look back on the Kermia as a party boat. Never a dull moment always some crazy thoughts or happenings. To be honest that was also the reason that I did not fight too hard with the office to be relieved.
The Shell tanker ss Kermia, call sign PFIY, was one of a series of so called Dutch K-tankers. Their names all started with the letter K and were named after a sea shell by that name. The Kermia was built as a 'General Purpose' tanker by Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Mij., Amsterdam as new build 28? (12100 grt, 169x21 m, 14.5 knots).
The sea shell after which the ship was named was on display, as on all the other Shell tankers, in a protective glass box in the officers' mess room.
Apart from some minor differences between the ships of the K-series the standard measures were: Length overall 169,4 m, width 21,16 m, maximum draught 9,35 m. The ships were propulsed by a 8250 shp Pametrada turbine engine. With a fully loaded vessel the speed was 14,5 knots and when in ballast 15 knots. The fuel consumption was about 50 tons per day. It was also equipped with 4 turbine powered cargo pumps.
As the other ships of the K-serie the Kermia was equipped with 33 cargo tanks, 11 on the starboard side, 11 amidships and 11 on the port side. A total of 25.220 cubic meters cargo could be loaded. For charging and discharging the cargo four cargo pumps were available with a capacity of 500 tons per hour each. The total bunker capacity was 1650 ton. In the fore ship was room for shipping of drums which could be handled with a 5 ton winch. Another 5 ton winch was available for handling the cargo hoses. For safety reasons the winches fore and aft were powered by steam. The accommodation was for a crew of 55 total. The K-class tankers carried a great variety of cargo: white spirit, black products, crude oil, lub oil and a number of ships were suitable for transporting waxy distillations and bitumen.
Sister ships in the K-serie were: Kabylia, Kalinga, Kalydon, Kara, Katelysia, Kellia, Kenia, Khasiella, Kopionella, Koratia, Korenia, Korovina, Kosicia, Kosmatella, Krebsia and Kryptos and Kylix all owned by Shell Tankers (pre-1955 La Corona). Identical ships sailing for other companies: Ameland, Kaap Hoorn, Munttoren, Westertoren.
Here is the Dutch Shelltanker Kermia, fitted with twin exhaust uptakes to their funnels and photographed in the Mersey at Eastham, the entrance of the Manchester Ship Canal. One Captain's standard joke was to point out to the British pilot that they should cover the entire canal. Asked by the pilot why they should so he then candidly replied that they would have created the biggest sewer in the world then. Usually no British humor could be detected.
I am fully aware of the fact that ships these days are a lot bigger than a simple 18.000 ton K-tanker like the Kermia in the old days. Please donot rub it in too much.....
Here I have grown my mustache for the purpose of the Mexican party which was planned at some moment. See further on down the track. After the party I got rid of the ornament, but now I wonder why the hurry?
As already mentioned above the Kermia was a Party Boat. A happy ship with a happy crew, especially considering the tough tanker trade with lots of days at sea. I suppose that in such circumstances some compensations are due. On one occasion the idea arose that we should have a Mexican party. Why a Mexican party, do not ask me.... If there was no party at hand you simply had to create one. That took some preparation time as mustaches were absent and had to be grown. We clearly abstained from any imitation in this respect; we went for the real thing. On other occasions when the urge of a party arose somebody was hoisted onto some shoulders and carried around in triumph. The victim was then told that it was his birtday, which it was not but okay. Once on his feet again everybody congratulated him and he was told that a birthday celebration, at his expense of course, was now due. Some of these sudden parties were the best I remember.
Apart from a happening like the Mexican party I experienced a rather speical happening which was of a different nature. I refer to the sighting of so called 'Marine Lightwheels'. A page, which is in Dutch however, is dedicated to this rather rare phenomona which I sighted together with the third officer somewhere in the Indian Ocean. It was so strange and eerie that I never forgot it and only recently I discovered through the internet that others had similar sightings of the Marine Lightwheels over the years. It was even so that I never mentioned it to anyone, afraid to be locked in some instituation.