‘The Last’ – Few – Counties – Men….

There are now only a ‘few’ Ex – Counties Ship Management – Men left after the passing on of Capt Rodman Tarbuck, here is Derek Panagakis history, and is still going strong!

(Click on Photo to enlarge)

Derek Panagakis - South America 2 Derek Panagakis - South America 1 Derek Panagakis - Blyth Trader

Allen & Appleyard      Tel:      01925 748466
Email: [email protected]

Counties Ship Management 1950 MD Basil Mavroleon.

When I joined, Counties Ship Management operated about 45 Ships.

These included:-
34 Canadian Fort Type Ships.
7 Liberty Ships also called Sam Boats. US built.
6 Empire Ships built in the UK.
All the ships were called after London Hills (Denmark Hill, Mill Hill, Richmond Hill, Tower Hill, etc.)

My first ship was the Dover Hill a UK Empire Ship, she was launched as the Empire Nairobi in 1943.
3 voyages March 1950 to June 1951 – Liverpool to Australia, then to India and US.
Finally returned to UK after 10 month voyage.
Then USA twice before arriving in Malmo, Sweden.
She was then sold to new owners.

My second ship was Mill Hill, a US built Liberty ship formerly called Sam Eden she was one of hundreds of Sam Boats built to UK design in America during the War. They were operated byThe Ministry or War Transport during the conflict, and played a major part in keeping Britain supplied, making up for the huge losses British shipping suffered to the U Boats.

Spent the summer 1951 trading in Northern Baltic, Gulf Of Bothnia.
(The land of the midnight sun). Finally arrived in Antwerp, she was also sold to new owners.

My third ship was Muswell Hill (was on this ship in total For 3 years at different times.)

Derek Panagakis - South America 3 Derek Panagakis - HK3 Derek Panagakis - Ston 2

Joined in Liverpool late 1951, sailed to Australia, Japan, India.
Next voyage Antwerp to USA, sank German fishing vessel in North Sea on outward journey
to US in Dense fog, no one on our ship was much concerned. Some still remembered the first Mill Hill torpedoed and sunk off the Scottish Coast. She was lost with no survivors.

My fourth ship Woldingham Hill joined in London late 1952. To Australia and New Zealand. Traded for several months on Australian Coast (considered staying, however returned to UK and Warsash for second mates’ certificate).

September 1953 now qualified, rejoined Muswell Hill in Liverpool as 3rd officer. To Japan and commenced NYK charter. Australia, then Japan to South America, twice.

A dilemma! Which way round? East or West. Captain decided West….Yokohama, Borneo,
Sunda Straights to Indian Ocean, Durban, Cape Town, across South Atlantic, via Tristan da Cunha Buenos Aires. (About 8 weeks). This voyage lasted 18 months. Paid off March 1955.

Once again Woldingham Hill, joined Tilbury for US returned to Rotterdam ,May 1955.
Back to Warsash Naval College for 1st mates Certificate.

January 1956 left Counties for good.

Joined Booth Line of Liverpool.

RMS Hubert newly built at Cammel Laird, Birkenhead. Flagship of  Booth fleet. 2nd Navigation Officer. Commenced series of 3 Voyages

To the Amazon. Very smart cargo passenger (200) ship.
Liverpool, Lisbon, Madeira, Barbados, Trinidad, Belem, Manaus -1000 miles up the Amazon.
At the time she was the finest ship in the Blue Star Group.

Final trip with Booths SS Denis to Brazil, Amazon trade, then to Rio, Arrived back in Liverpool
Dec 1956.  Left Booth Line, took longest leave in 6 years about 5 weeks.

Considered my future!

Watched marine vacancies in Far East. Moller’s of Hong Kong appeared. East of Suez pay rates applied. (Double UK pay[1]).
Appointed 2nd officer MV Blyth Trader. Formerly” Silver Sandal”
of now defunct Silver Line. (Famous for their very fast round the world cargo service).Flew to Singapore on Super Constellation, (Jets had not yet arrived).

Joined ship Feb 1957 Singapore sailed immediately for Yokohama.
(Great to be going back to my far eastern home port). Several short trips later, arrived in Hong Kong. Severe engine problems kept us there 6 months. During this time our Chief Officer was promoted Captain of “Blyth Adventurer” and flew to Japan.

This left me as senior officer on the” Blyth Trader”. After 4 months as provisional Chief Officer, the Company bowed to the inevitable and gave me the full rank of Chief Officer. I was 25 years of age, visiting Blue Funnel officers from Liverpool on Alfred Holt Ships were disbelieving.

Sailed from Hong Kong November 1957. Chinese crew worked hard and effectively. (I had given the Seraing full Powers of engagement at the HK crew market.)
Arrive back in Antwerp Feb 1958, the Owners arrived on board and praised the Captain for his fine looking ship. He was an Extra Master [2]and an academic, and became an Examiner of Masters and Mates in Liverpool. James Batchelor was my mentor, and I am eternally grateful for his support and the opportunity he gave me at such an early age.

Finally Qualified in Liverpool Dec 1958. Master Mariner.

My Career at Sea was over, little did I realise that 10 short years later The Merchant Navy, as we knew it at that time, would cease to exist. A great loss for young people, with the spirit of adventure.

Why did I leave the Merchant Navy?
The family business in Liverpool was calling, and I had travelled the world thoroughly, it felt like I been everywhere several times. It must be remembered that in the 50s few people travelled privately, package tours started later. Ships passenger were either wealthy or immigrants.
1959 commenced work in our television business. TV had just got going and we had a good trading time. The business grew to about 8 shops ranging from central Liverpool (Liverpool Radio Supplies) to Southport.

1966 took over Allen & Appleyard in Liverpool, have run it to this Day. 2013.
[1] Standard pay for a chief officer was around £600 per annum.In HK it was about £1000 p/a, this was a figure which everyone aspired to at that time. An equivalent today would be about £60,000.

[2] To become an Extra Mariner you must have in depth studies of maritime subjects – the equivalent of master of science MSc today.

Many thanks Derek….. Roy G……Webmaster LOF News 2015©

RMS Hubert 2