With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian

Shaw Savill & Albion Line


SS Corinthic - Bob Wilson Story 1961 - 1962

The Corinthic Class Liners

The Rob Wilson Story - 9th.Engineer on SS Corinthic 1961/62

SS Corinthic was the first of the series of four ships to be completed in April 1947

Form the author’s private collection


Please note: Images on this page, except for those marked otherwise, have been provided by Robert Wilson and these must not be copied by any media for private use or any other purposes, without having requested permission from the author and Mr. Wilson!

Introduction: I received the following story and documentation from Robert Cole Wilson in the United Kingdom and I believe that it will make for interesting reading! If you were a shipmate at the time and knew Bob, or a passenger, I would like to hear from you and we could add you story and images should you have any!

Reuben Goossens.


I joined the British Merchant Navy on September 20, 1961 and my first ship was the Shaw Savill liner SS Corinthic on October 31, 1961. I had completed my apprenticeship as a Fitter at C. A. Parsons Ltd, in Newcastle upon Tyne where large industrial steam turbines and associated generators for major power stations around the world were the main, if not the only product. The latter part of my time with this company had been spent in their Drawing Office. As my date of birth was November 6, 1939, I was just coming up to my 22nd.birthday.

This is a rather rare photo of me in full uniform taken on Main Deck

In all I did three round trips from England to New Zealand, sailing via the Panama Canal earning in the process the total sum of 719.88 sterling. Each voyage took around three and a half months, and included five to six weeks on the New Zealand coast picking up frozen and chilled Lamb for the British Market. This was of course prior to the days of the European Common Market. As we carried some 80 passengers in both directions we would, mostly for their benefit, make a detours and anchor off Pitcairn Island in the Pacific and cruise around The Azores Islands in the Atlantic. We also bunkered at either Curacao or Trinidad. We sailed each time out of and back into London and arrived at or left from either Wellington or Auckland where we embarked and disembarked our passengers. Whilst on the coast of New Zealand we visited New Plymouth, Napier, Lyttleton, Dunedin and Timaru.

One of my reasons for joining the Merchant Navy was I thought, as it has to be sai I was still very naive and a bit of a greenhorn, and not as yet a 22 year old, that I would be having a wonderful time and living in the lap of luxury, eating wonderful food and perhaps spending my free time keeping fit running millions of laps around the deck. Well the food on board was very good, no complaints there, but as far as accommodations is concerned, for the most Junior of Junior Engineers, my cabin although satisfactory, it could be better described as being very basic. In addition I was assigned to the 12 to 4 watch and the combination of these very unsociable hours and the gruelling heat of the Engine Room meant that the shock to my system was such that it was all I could do to stay awake for my meals. However, I soon got used to it and by the time I left the Corinthic at the end of my third round voyage on the November 27, 1962 to gain further experience with another company on a new ship, I had thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Shaw Savill Albion Line.

One of the pleasant and memorable experiences for me was to be able to watch the latest movies at night out on the open deck while the ship glided her way through the South Pacific, and all this in complete comfort. The projector and large screen were usually rigged up by the seamen. This was all done under the supervision of the Chief Electrician and Bosun and it was always performed without a hitch.

Here is my Seaman’s Record Book, showing all my voyages:

These photo’s are just like passport photo’s are they not? 



 One thing, at least I did a “Very Good” job!

As for a few anecdotes here are a few that I can remember quite vividly:

The first deals with the patterns and standards of behaviour that were observed while on board the Corinthic. As Engineers we were officially Officers, but most sea going engineers will tell you that we always had the feeling that the Deck Officers regarded us as a little below their status in life. This caused quite a lot of friendly “horseplay” and chat between the two factions and it was the case that while we had passengers on board the Engineers were required to take their meals in a Dining Room, which was separate from the Dining Room where the passengers and the Deck Officers took theirs. However, whilst we were along the New Zealand coast there were no passengers on board, we Engineers were allowed to take our meals in the main Dining Room together with the Deck Officers. We all enjoyed the same menu wherever we ate, but when we the Engineers were using our own Dining Room there was always a large bowl of fresh fruit on a sideboard which we could help ourselves to after the meal was finished as we were leaving. Now, on my very first trip and on after my very first meal in the main Dining Room, when I had finished us I would normally do in our own dinning room, I made for the fruit bowl and helped myself, which was normal so far, and I duly left the Dining Room. However, within an hour I was summoned to the Chief Electrician’s cabin and was firmly told that whilst I was in the main Dining room that I “Must ask the Dinning Room steward to bring the fruit bowl over to you at the table in order that that you can select whatever fruit you would like.”

The second story deals with what might be termed typical Engine Room humour, but first you have to have a little understanding of the workings of Steam Turbines and Oil Fired Main Boilers. When a ship is manoeuvring into or out of a port there are a lot of Engine movements to comply with i.e., half ahead port, half astern starboard, slow ahead both etc., etc. This makes for fluctuating demands for steam from the boilers requiring changes in settings on both the boilers and engines. If this is not done quickly and accurately then the end result is lots of thick black smoke coming from the funnel and this is not good when you have a shipload of first class passengers on board and they are all out on deck watching what is going on as we are leaving port. On one such occasion when we were required to cope with an unusual amount of engine movements in very quick succession, we were all running about like idiots when the telephone from the Bridge went and the Second Engineer, who was well known for his colourful use of the English language, snatched it off it’s cradle and in a bit of a temper and yelled “WHAT NOW?” The next thing we heard him say was “Well what the (bleep) hell do you expect, (bleeping) ICE CREAM?” This of course was in response to being told by the hapless mate up on the Bridge that “there was far too much smoke coming out of the Funnel!”

The next images cover my “Engineer’s Certificate of Service & Character” and three Wages Slips:





SS Corinthic seen at Lyttleton New Zealand on May 13, 1962

Photograph Dave Edge – New Zealand

Above you see the SS Corinthic arriving in Lyttleton and I was on board at the time and it was my second voyage on her. At the time her Captain was: Captain A. C. Jones, the Chief Engineer being Frank Papworth, the Second Engineer was Tony Goodman, and the Fourth Engineer was Doug (Duggie) Reed.

The Corinthic was without a doubt a wonderful ship and my time on her provided some wonderful days, and now aged 70 she certainly has provided me with so many great memories. In addition, she gave me a good start in the industry!

Return to: SS Corinthic Class Liners – The history page of all four ships

The following are all my Shaw Savill features on

1... SS Athenic Class Ships These three fine liners built in 1902/03 introduced two of the names on this page

2… QSMV Dominion Monarch – Shaw Savill’s Grandest Dame ever built!

3… SS Corinthic Class Liners – Four fine ships built in 1947/48.

4… SS Southern Cross – A 23 webpage feature on a revolutionary passenger liner!

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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given. I know what it is like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other sites, yet these individuals either refuse to provide credit or remove them when asked, knowing full well that there is no legal comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show these charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit where credit is due!

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!




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