Wednesday, 18 April 2012

BHP 1972 - 1974 (Post 1)

Iron Whyalla  (1972 - 1973)

My first experience of working aboard ship came with the offer of a "Christmas Trip", a voyage as a supernumerary, signed on and working as a cadet, aboard ship during the Christmas school holidays in the year prior to applying for a full time postion. This BHP initiative (I'm not aware of any other companies offering this) was a way of finding if an applicant found life at sea to his liking and gave a ship's captain the chance to assess the applicant. My voyage was aboard Iron Whyalla, from Geelong to Kwinana (WA) then back to Melbourne, from 29th. December 1972 to 17th. January 1973. I really enjoyed it, but being just a pup of  just 16 1/2 years old I found it quite a culture shock.

En route Kwinana, Western Australia.

Iron Spencer (1973 - 1974)

In late 1973, I applied for and was granted a permanent position as a deck cadet with BHP. Coincidently, a fellow student at my school (now Port Phillip Sea Pilot - Captain Brian Liley, one of my closest friends) also applied to BHP, was accepted and appointed to the same ship as me - Iron Spencer, to join in Whyalla, South Australia on 20th. December 1973.

As a deck cadet, aged 17, aboard Iron Spencer.
Iron Spencer at the BHP pier in Kwinana in January 1974.
Rough seas en route Kwinana to Newcastle NSW.
Iron Spencer in Port Kembla, February 1974.

My fellow cadet, Brian, left the Iron Spencer in Newcastle and was appointed to Iron Warrior (above).
  After 3 months of trading between NSW, SA and WA ports, I left Iron Spencer (and BHP) in Fremantle on 11th. March 1974 to take up an offer to continue my cadetship with Blue Star Line, an English shipping company which traded extensively world wide and which, at the time, employed a number of Australians and New Zealanders. Changing companies mid-cadetship took a fair amount of chutzpah, was not a great career move and hardly endeared me to BHP but this new opportunity was too exciting to me at the time to pass up (Port Kembla to Port Hedland, Whyalla to Newcastle or Sydney to New York, Rio de Janeiro to London?).


  1. What an interesting new blog, Tim! I think seeing these photos and following your career, one can understand your love of the sea and why cruises appeal so much to you. Some great photos there!

  2. Wonderful record of your early shipping career, Tim.
    Lovely photos.