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Recollections of the Empire Malta

Recollections of the Empire Malta – Capt. Sam Nicolson

“After I passed for 2nd Mate in early March 1944, I relived on various company ships in port, eventually signing articles for the Empire Malta at Gray’s yard on 25/05/1944. As a heavy lift ship we assumed that we would be required for the invasion of Europe, however we spent some 14 voyages carrying coal between North-East coast ports and the Thames.

To say the least the design of the ship, with all the top-hamper, including the bridge, was totally unsuitable for loading at the coal staithes, so it may be said that we were not very popular. When the heeling test was done it was found necessary to bed some 100 tons of pig iron in cement in each of the wing ballast tanks. With the invasion in progress I found it somewhat galling to be carrying coal! In addition, I was concerned about my sea-time for 1st Mate.

I applied for leave and left the ship on January 1st, 1945, after which the company assigned me to the Empire Barry engaged in following up the invasion as ports became open – a much more gratifying assignment. The company must have thought that I had acquired some degree of expertise in the east coast convoy system.

I studied ashore for Master in December 1949, eventually taking up a shore appointment in 1960, remaining in the marine industry for another 25 years.”

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