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MV Britannic the Whale-Hunting Killer + Free Download Book

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With his ten hours at the helm of the MV Britannic completed Michael Walsh the tenderfoot seaman acquired his Steering Ticket. In the meantime, Michael also added his Lifeboat Ticket to his haul. Still a deck boy he was now qualified to follow any course given to him by any ship’s commanding deck officer.

From his small podium with his back resting up against the wheelhouse bulkhead the ship’s newest helmsman held the ship’s steering wheel and kept his eyes on the compass inside the compass binnacle. The gyrocompass was also in use. Then, rather than steer by compass points the crewman was instructed to steer by whatever degree point he was given.

‘Steer 245 or steer 305 degrees or any course between 0 and 360 degrees as required by the navigating officer.

Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and die was the mantra of any ship’s helmsman. There were many memorable incidents that occurred during the young seaman’s solo stints at the helm of the MV Britannic.

Breaking dawn when midway across the Atlantic is a thought-provoking experience. Strangely, the best-remembered moments are those when the great ocean dividing the old and new continents is at its most placid. It was almost certainly for this reason why the Pacific Ocean was so named. Great storms and turbulent seas are thankfully rare. Boredom is often the lot of seamen of ages past as their ships slowly make their way across the world’s great oceans. There is no such thing as a small or insignificant ocean. A voyage from Capetown to England took six weeks with only one stop to bunker at the Azores.

Steering on a course given to him by the 1st Officer, the only officer in the wheelhouse at such a quiet time, Michael kept his eye on the horizon and the mill-pond smooth ocean ahead. Occasionally glancing at the ship’s compass, he was deep in thought when unexpectantly the ship’s youngest deck rating and indeed the White Star Line’s (1846-1960) last deck boy heard the officer direct him to modify his course.

Gradually the ocean liner answered to the wheel. Michael watched and wondered as the great ship’s bow edged slowly taking a more northerly tack. Another order was given and then this too was modified. It was then the reason for the officer changing the liner’s course became clear.

Using his binoculars, the officer of the watch had spotted a pod of whales making their southwards journey. Such sights were not uncommon for seamen crossing the Atlantic but they were always of interest. Both passengers and crews derive hours of amusement watching passing pods of whales or delighting in the game as they gaze at dolphins’ race and frolic at the ship’s prow. It occurred to the teenage helmsman that the officer intended to take a closer look at these other wonders of the seas.

Turning the helm as directed the distance between the approaching MV Britannic and the pod of whales rapidly reduced. Michael guessed there to be about 20 whales in the pod. A family or more there appeared to be gigantic, large and small of these amazing sea creatures.

Suddenly, like a tiger leaping from the forest foliage the last of the great White Star Shipping Line’s passenger liner was rushing headlong into the placid group of sea creatures. In shock, Michael watched as the officer of the watch exultantly ran to the outer wings of the bridge.

‘Got it,’ he cried.

Somewhere, far below an adult Atlantic whale had been neatly cleaved in two by the prow of the oncoming White Star liner. Down to just 400 species since 1970 has been put on the endangered species list.

The seaman cadet was sickened by the spectacle of the jubilant officer but naturally kept his thoughts to himself. It was to him the most pointless carnage imaginable. It was never the deck officer’s intention to simply observe the passing wonders of nature. It was killing for killing sake.


BRITANNIC WAIVES THE RULES Michael Walsh. The last of the White Star Liners (1845-1960). The epic company’s last deck boy vividly recalls the liner’s most exciting events and interesting crew members up to its final voyage. New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, roustabouts, outstanding officers, near tragedies, fist-fights and the glamour at the end of a vanished era. Fully illustrated. 

READ FREE saves you from paying the book’s cover price. Michael now retired and getting on in years will send you his bank-to-bank details if you wish to voluntarily transfer or ZELLE a gift tip for as little as £10.  Contact Michael

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