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ss Nevasa

Built in 1955 she was the British India Steam Navigation Co's biggest ship, the 20,527-ton Nevasa. She was the first troopship built since the end of the Second World War. With accommodation for 500 officers and their families and 1,000 NCOs and men on the troop deck, Nevasa introduced a new era of trooping by sea. She had many comforts compared with older vessels, including stabilisers to reduce rolling in rough sea. Nevasa was built on the Clyde and launched on November 30, 1955, and sailed into Southampton for the first time the following year.


Despite an auspicious start to life, Nevasa did not have a long trooping career and, in 1962, the government decided to end the movement of soldiers by sea so the ship was withdrawn from service.


For two years Nevasa, lay idle in the River Fal but then BI decided to spend £500,000 on a conversion and turn her into an education cruise ship, with accommodation for 1,100 pupils and teachers, and 230 private cabins for cruise passengers.


She made nearly 200 voyages, steamed around 750,000 miles and carried 187,000 students.


But again this career was short-lived and, in June 1975, faced with huge rises in oil costs, the ship went to the breaker's yard in Taiwan. I was one of the 69 crew who took her to her grave. Her last 3 week voyage was passengerless and we sailed from Malta to Kaohsiung (Taiwan) where she was cut up for scrap. There's not too many times I've seen 69 grown men cry but that was sure one of them.


This photo was taken by Dave Harbinson and it was his last shot of her.


The 5 songs below are actual recordings from Nevasa as heard in my cabin in the Engineers' accommodation on the Boat Deck. Anyone who ever sailed on Nevasa will remember the stirring music played over the Tannoy during every departure. They're listed in the order they were always played.

Life on the Ocean Waves

Hearts of Oak

Viscount Nelson

Old Comrades

Britannia Rules the Waves


I was one of the crew who took Nevasa to scrap in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It was a very quiet, sad and lengthy trip from Malta via Dakar (we won't mention Dakar will we boys), Cape Town and crossing the Indian Ocean to the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra where an announcement was made of a suspected Pirate raid. I recorded the event. The voice you can hear shouting "it's not boat stations, it's not boat stations ... it's the bloody Pirates" is Willy Paterson, Chief Engineer, and the Deck Officer is reported to be Ted Banks. Turn your speakers on and click on the pirate picture below and believe what you like!


Nevasa pirate attack audio


The following scans are from the engine room logbook of the time which I have in my possession.


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It says; 

While attempting to 'repel boarders' it was discovered that the sea suction pipe on ford sany/fire pump is holed hence p/p u/s. Ballast p/p on to fire main for exercise. What it means is while the crew were busy squirting the pirates off the ropes the guys down below found a hole in the fire pump so they opened the cross over valve to allow the ballast pump to feed the fire main.


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It says; 

20:40 hrs Approx. Apparently being pursued by the 'yellow perils' Steering Gear doubled as precaution. This could be the 8/12 FINEST HOUR. It all happens on the 8/12.  

21:25 3rd Mate reports "ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT".


The steering gear is the mechanism that controls the rudder. The mechanism is duplicated so if one fails the other can be engaged to take over. A request from the bridge to double the steering gear meant both mechanisms were engaged at the same time indicating the officer of the watch must have been feeling quite nervous about the strain the steering gear was about to suffer to evade the pirates that nobody but me can remember.  


My recording has been copied from this website without my permission, CD's have been made and sold at the last BI reunion in Runnymede, UK October 2008, and later John Prescott, the person responsible for the website "BI Ships", wrote this review;

There was also a replay of a recording supposedly made by some officers on board Nevasa during that scrapping voyage to Taiwan, when the ship was allegedly attacked by pirates in or near Indonesian waters. There seems to be some dispute about how or even whether this attack actually happened! Undaunted, Tony Gray introduced the recording with some amusing anecdotes from Nevasa's cruising days.


How bloody rude!   


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Here's a shot of the Ship's Company sent to me again by Dave Harbinson but unfortunately heís not in it nor I.


Hereís a great shot of her.


I took this while we were on a boat trip somewhere in the Med ...

... there's an interesting story relating to this photo about a young boy falling overboard,  you can read it here.


... and this is as we returned that day.


I took this on the day I got off Canberra for the last time and rejoined Nevasa. I was so pleased to be going back onto my first ship. Canberra was a beautiful ship but life on board Nevasa was just the best ...


... and here she is at full steam ahead. How sleek she was.


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Courtesy of Alan Mackenzie

Engraving of Nevasa, probably from Christmas card. Date unknown.


Courtesy of Mike Williams


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Courtesy of Alan Faulkner


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Courtesy of Alan Faulkner

Alan writes;

The above two photos were taken at Southampton while we were on our way to the Isle of Wight, it must be about 1956 ish and would be quite an early visit and was one of the first ships I photographed think the camera was a Kodak Brownie!


Alan wasn't a seadog but obviously loves ships which is collaborated by his magnificent website showing his huge collection of ship photos over the years, well worth a visit here.


Courtesy of Perry Bradley (Student Pax)

Perry writes;

I was a student on the ss Nevasa about 1970 (canít remember the exact date). During that cruise we visited Vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Tangier. A great trip and very enlightening for a young mind.


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Courtesy of Perry Bradley (Student Pax)

Can anyone name this officer?


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Courtesy of Perry Bradley (Student Pax)

I remember this chap, he was definitely still on in 1974 when I joined.


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Courtesy of Perry Bradley (Student Pax)

A senior officer with 3 stripes.


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Courtesy of Perry Bradley (Student Pax)

The Morse Signal Lamp.


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Courtesy of Perry Bradley (Student Pax)

The Port Lamp.


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