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CONVOY ON 155 - Page 3
Misc. Letters re. Empire Lakeland's Return to Port
Received from Roger Griffiths - His source: Public Records Office, Kew.

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Cover Letter from the General Manager of Blue Star Line Ltd., L. Dewey
to The Assistant Director of Ship Management, Ministry of War Transport, London
dated Febr. 1-1943

"Referring to your letter of the 22nd ultimo, we cannot do better than enclose a copy of the Master's report with reference to his breaking convoy and returning to port, together with a letter from our Senior Superintendent, covering the points raised by you, which we think will explain the circumstances. Additional ballasting to that originally provided was put on board, and as we have had not further report, we trust that everything is satisfactory".

From Superintendents Dept., Blue Star Line Ltd., to L. Dewey, Blue Star Line
dated Jan. 29-1943 and signed W. C. McKenzie:

"I refer to your letter of the 25th inst., to which you attached copy of a letter received from the Ministry of War Transport, in which they ask for certain particulars about the return of Empire Lakeland to the Clyde with heavy weather and engine damage. I attach hereto a copy of the Master's report on his return, and which indicates that the vessel was too "stiff" to stand up to the weather conditions she met. We consider the Master was justified in accepting the ship as quite seaworthy for a North Atlantic passage in the loaded and ballast condition in which she sailed.

Empire Lakeland was the first of a type, i.e. a Tramp Ship having the following modifications:
1 - Deep tanks at the forward end.
2 - Deep tanks at the after end.
3 - Insulated in three hatches.
4 - Fitted with A.N.D. Gear.
5 - The builders based their stability curves on calculations only, as they were unable to arrange an inclining test.

It is only after experience in a sea way that the behaviour of such a ship can be adequately gauged. As the result of violent rolling the vessel was eased down and lost her Convoy. As a result of Admiralty instructions that ships losing Convoy in that particular area must return, Empire Lakeland put back. A slight engine defect, which has no bearing on the issue, developed during the return passage.

The following are the other particulars required by the Ministry:
Sailed from River Clyde - 19.12.42.
Draft forward - 12 ft 06 ins.
Draft aft - 18 ft 06 ins.
Mean draft salt water - 15 ft 05 ins.
Total deadweight - 3,325 tons, consisiting of:
Cargo - 400 tons.
Coal - 1092 tons.
Fresh Water - 108 tons.
Ballast and boiler feed - 1625 tons.
Stores, dunnage, A.N.D. nets - approx 100 tons".

From F. J. Gudgin, Master of Empire Lakeland, to Blue Star Line Ltd.
dated Dec. 26-1942:

"I very much regret my return to the U.K. but unfortunately last Tuesday night very heavy weather was encountered and the vessel was rolling violently and starting to do damage, therefore I was left with no alternative but to break off from the Convoy and heave the vessel to, in order to avoid doing serious damage to the vessel and engines in her light ship condition, she was racing badly in the heavy sea that was running, after remaining hove to for some 12 hours it was impossible for me to regain my party, therefore as per my Admiralty instructions for the area that I was in I had to return to my port of departure.

On my return passage there has been some trouble with the L.P. piston rod, but until the Engineer Superintendent sees this I do not know whether or not it will cause any delay to the vessel.

There are several items of heavy weather damage to the Superstructure, some are attributable to the bad welding of the builders,
Foremast heavy derrick crutch to be resecured to mast,
Admiralty net device gear, several items to be repaired.
One raft lost overboard.
No.'s 3 and 4 lifeboats slightly damaged.
One potato locker and 35 cwt. potatoes lost overboard.
Signal mast to resecure.
Several leaks into after Crews quarters, leaks into Master's Accommodation and Wireless Room (these leaks have been in progress since vessel left Builders).

It would seem from the past few days experience that this vessel in light ship condition with all double bottom tanks in is far too stiff, and still not deep enough in the water for a winter passage North Atlantic, and I would strongly recommend before the vessel again leaves the U.K. that a further 800 tons of cargo or ballast be put into the Tween Decks, which I think by lifting some weight would stop a lot of the violent rolling that she does, and avoid a recurrence of what has just happened".

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