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Sunday, 3 January 2010

44 years in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Part 3.

When I left you last time I was just about to land in Singapore.

Now for a young lad whose only experience of foreign travel was a single holiday in France, this was an astounding experience in the difference between West and East.

Firstly, the weather, hot and humid, like nothing I'd ever imagined.

Secondly, the smell. Fragrant plant smells with a coupcon of open drain.

Thirdly, everyone was smaller than me.

I'd been told that I would be met by the "Agent", whoever he was. Surprise surprise, I was met by a very polite Chinese Gentleman who informed that the ship hadn't arrived and that he would convey me to a hotel.

The hotel was one of those old colonial buildings of which many were built in the time when Great Britain ruled most of the world. Lofty, large, airy, and truly amazing compared with the average british house.

Anyway back to the tale of this young Engineer cadet..................

The following morning, after a truly amazing breakfast of Nasi Goreng, the agent returned to take me to my ship. The RFA Retainer. (Pictured above).

The Retainer was an ammunition stores ship which carried a variety of those very stores that make very loud bangs when they're angry. Even the biggest known to man. (still covered by the Official Secrets Act, so I'm being discrete here).

Armament Store Issuing Ships. RFA Retainer. A329. (Ex Chungking). GRT 9498. Built 1950. RFA service 1955 - 1979.
Length overall: 477ft. Beam: 62ft. Draught: 25ft. Depth: 35ft.
Machinery: 1 X 6-cylinder Scotts'/Doxford diesel engine, 6500bhp, single shaft. Speed: 15 knots.
Complement: 132 RFA, 34 naval stores staff.

Anyway. having walked up the brow I was sent to see the Second Engineer who would be like a God to me. The power of authority on ships in those days was truly immense. After being suitably humbled as to my lowly state in the heirarchy, I was shown to my cabin. A rabbit hutch that I had to share with another cadet.

That's enough for now. Next episode will be about............................. Doxfords. Maybe.

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