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A Padres Prayer

praying-handsIn 1973 I was on HMS Tiger. We were Flag Ship to a Far East 6 month deployment. The Suez Canal was still closed so we had the joy of going around the Cape.

We exercised with the South African Navy and Air Force during which two of their Buccaneer air craft collided  and crashed into the sea. We later recovered the body of one of the pilots the other was never found. A sad start to a deployment.

We crossed the Indian Ocean with ease and entered the Strait of Malacca, a narrow, 805 km (500 mile) stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia) and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

On this particular day the weather was clear skies and the sea as flat as a pancake, visibility at it’s best.

During the morning on this day we received an SOS. A tanker and a Freighter had collided. It seems the tanker had rammed into the side of the freighter.

On arrival at the scene we witnessed the tanker well and truly jammed into the freighter. Our submarine HMS Dreadnought was in attendance.

Not getting in to to much detail we were able to tow the freighter free, the tanker skipper refusing to take our tow, thankfully the freighter stayed afloat.

Note to those re a rescue of a ship at sea. Once the stricken ship has accepted our support and a line is passed between the ships, this then means the rescuing ship can claim “Prize Money” (Prize money is usually allocated to the rescuers of merchant ships and their cargo when in distress, the value of which is decided by the courts and marine insurance companies)

I think the skipper of the tanker was thinking of the value of his load, a few thousand tons of crude oil! Though severely damaged at the bows, the tanker continued on his way.

By now we had a boarding party on the freighter and viewed the manifest.

During this time our Church Of Scotland Padre was mincing around the upper deck of Tiger. The Cof E fella was probably still in his “cart” (bed)! The padre sidled up to me and whispered in my ear “I am praying for gold” (his wish to as what was on the manifest).

It took many hours for us to make the freighter sea worthy before releasing our tow and continuing  on our way to Singapore, where we arrive a day late of our ETA.

When the manifest was checked out it showed that she was carrying thousands of tons of  MANURE! On seeing the “Vicar” (Padre) next, I whispered in his ear ” just like you  Cof S vicars, everything you pray for turns to shit”!

I think my share in the “Prize Monies”was less than a fiver (£5) This was paid out some three or four years later.


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