SEARCH SHIPS

Exclusive Correspondents

In places where there is a concentration of Members, or the workload calls for it, Britannia has correspondents who work exclusively for Britannia Members, employ local staff, and operate under their own names.

Each of these correspondents has their own page elsewhere on this website. These pages provide a wealth of detail about each firm such as the location of their offices and key people to contact in those offices. Details of correspondents’ day-to-day operations may also be found on these web pages.

CORRESPONDENTS WHO WORK EXCLUSIVELY FOR MEMBERS

Why are Exclusive Correspondents so important to our Members?

On a stormy November night in the winter of 1996, a car carrier (entered in Britannia) developed engine trouble off Papua New Guinea. An onshore wind was blowing at almost gale force, and the ship found itself in very real danger of being driven onto the nearby rocky coast. The Master radioed the authorities in the nearest large port and asked for assistance. The harbour master told him that he only had one tug available – and he could not spare that because it was needed for an incoming ship. ‘By the way,’ he added for good measure, ‘even if you get here, I can’t let you in: I don’t have a free berth.

In desperation, the Master turned to the Club’s Correspondent in Port Moresby. The Correspondent immediately telephoned the harbour master, but received the same unhelpful replies. He called the major tug companies and discovered that the nearest suitable tug was a full 12 hours steaming away. Things were starting to look bleak.

While our Correspondent was scratching his head and looking for a few ideas, he received a call from the owner of a large tug, who said he was confident that he could make it to the stricken ship in about three hours – possibly less. The Correspondent, encouraged but more than a little curious, pressed for details. The tug’s owner became increasingly evasive as the conversation progressed and it was obvious that he was reluctant to describe his tug in any detail. After 10 minutes or so, the truth came out. There was a tug and it was, indeed, very large. Theoretically, it was also very powerful, but it had been built in 1922, was out of class and had not actually been to sea for over 10 years. The Correspondent replaced the telephone. It was a case of ‘back to the drawing board’.

Then, our Correspondent had a much-needed stroke of luck. A friend put him in touch with a local enterprise run by a church mission. They owned a small ferry and a vessel described as a landing craft. It was far from clear why the church had a landing craft – or what they used it for – but now was not the time to ask such questions. After a great deal of persuasion and some hard bargaining, agreement was finally reached with the church authorities. The Master of the ferry was contacted, and all the passengers that had just finished boarding were summarily ordered back ashore (without their luggage). He cast off and set out in search of the car carrier.

It was after midnight when the ferry finally reached the stricken ship and managed to get a line connected, despite the appalling conditions. It broke after only half an hour. Another line was rigged up and our intrepid little ferry again began tugging at the car carrier in an effort to maintain the ship’s position. She managed to keep this up all night. At first light, the ferry was joined by the landing craft and the two of them, pulling in tandem for all that they were worth, succeeded in keeping the car carrier from drifting onto the nearby coast. The entire enterprise was little short of a miracle.

The next day the wind dropped; the car carrier restarted her engines, and the Club
Correspondent applied himself to the task of persuading the harbour master to change his mind. The ship limped back to the safety of the port where a berth was finally found. A real disaster had been narrowly averted.

The Club is not involved in many cases offering such drama, but the story neatly highlights the qualities that the Club looks for in a Correspondent: initiative, local knowledge, experience and dedication. Club Correspondents work round the clock – providing the eyes and ears of the Club whenever and wherever they are needed to protect our Members’ interests. Individually and collectively, they provide a remarkable service to Club Members, safeguarding their interests in over 140 countries and 408 ports worldwide.

Our network of Correspondents, exclusive and non-exclusive, is an indispensable part of the service we provide to Members. They are usually the first on the scene, ready to look after the Master and crew, evaluate the situation and, where possible, suggest practical solutions. Good communications, cooperation with all parties involved and expectation management are just some of the many skills that are required.