RFA Wave Goodbye
It is with much regret and haste that I write this letter to you, regret that
such a small misunderstanding could lead to the following circumstances, and
haste in order that you will get this report before you form your own
preconceived opinions from the reports in the world press, for I am sure that
they will tend to over dramatise the affair.
We had just picked up the pilot and the cadet had just returned from changing
the "G" flag for the "H" flag. Being the cadets first trip he was having
difficulty in rolling up the "G" flag up. I therefore proceeded to show him.
Coming to the last part I told him to "let go". The lad although willing is not
to bright, necessitating me having to repeat my instruction in a sharper tone.
At this moment the Chief Officer appeared from the chart room having been
plotting the vessels progress, and thinking that I was referring to the anchor,
he instructed the Third Officer on the forecastle to "Let Go". The Port anchor
having been cleared away but not walked out was promptly let go. The effect of
letting the anchor drop from the "pipe" while the vessel was proceeding at full
harbour speed proved to much for the windlass brake, and the entire length of
the port anchor cable was pulled out "by the roots". I fear that the damage to
the chain locker will require extensive repairs. The braking effect of the port
anchor naturally caused the vessel to shear in that direction, right towards the
swing bridge that spans the tributary to the river up which were proceeding.
The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening the bridge
for my vessel. Unfortunately he did not think to stop the vehicular traffic, the
result being that the bridge partly opened and deposited a Volkswagen, two
cyclists and a cattle truck on the foredeck. My ships company are at present
rounding up the contents of the latter, which from the noise I would say were
In his efforts to stop the progress of the vessel. The Third Officer dropped the
starboard anchor, too late to be of any practical use, for it fell on the swing
bridge operators cabin. We believe him to be in fairly good health as would
could just see him by the light of the numerous small fires as he waved
vigorously to the ship as he was taken away in the ambulance.
I digress, just after the port anchor was let go and the vessel started to
shear, I gave a double ring full astern on the engine room telegraph and
personally rang the engine room to order maximum astern revolutions. I was
informed that the sea water temperature was 53 degrees and asked what tonight's
video was, my reply would not add anything constructive to this report.
Up until now my report has been limited to the forward end of the vessel. Down
aft the Second Mate was having his own problems. At the moment that the port
anchor was let go, the Second Mate was supervising the making fast of the after
tug and was lowering the ships towing spring down to the tug.
The sudden braking effect of the port anchor caused the tug to "run in under"
the stern of my vessel, just at the moment when the propeller was answering my
double ring full astern. The prompt action of the Second Mate in securing the
inboard end of the towing spring delayed the sinking of the tug by some two
minutes, thereby allowing the safe abandoning of the tug.
It was strange, but at the very same time as letting go the port anchor there
was a power cut ashore. The fact we were passing over a cable area at the time
might suggest that we may have touched something on the river bottom. It is
perhaps lucky that the high tension cables brought down by the foremast were not
live, possibly being replaced by the underwater cable, but owing to the shore
blackout it is not possible to determine where the power pylon has fallen at
It has never failed to amaze me, the actions and behaviour of foreigners during
moments on minor crisis. The pilot for instance is at this moment huddled in the
corner of my day cabin, alternately crooning to himself and crying after having
consumed a bottle of my best gin in a time that would have been worthy of
inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records. The tug captain on the other hand has
proved difficult, he reacted violently and had to be restrained by the steward,
who has him safely handcuffed in the ships hospital, where he is reportedly
telling me to do impossible things with my ship and my person.
I enclose the names and addresses of the drivers and insurance companies of the
vehicles on my foredeck, which the Third Officer collected after the somewhat
hurried evacuation of the forecastle. These particulars will enable you to claim
for the damage they did to the railings of No1 hold.
I shall now close this preliminary report, for I am finding it difficult to
concentrate with the sound of the police sirens and their flashing blue lights,
and the noise from the pigs.
P.S. It is sad to think that none of this would have happened, had the cadet
realised that there is no need to fly pilot flags after dark.