I know it's old - but it made me chuckle again...


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Minor Incident Report

It is with regret and in haste that I write this letter to you; regret that such a small misunderstanding could lead to the following circumstances, and haste in order that you might read this report before you form your own pre-conceived opinions from accounts in the world press, for I am sure that they will tend to over-dramatise the affair
We had just picked up the pilot, and the apprentice had returned from changing flag Golf for flag Hotel and, it being his first trip, was having trouble rolling up the former flag. I therefore proceeded to show him how. Coming to the last part I told him to 'Let go'. The lad, although willing, is none too bright, necessitating my having to repeat the instruction in a sharper tone
At this moment the Chief Officer appeared from the Chart House, having been plotting the vessel's progress, and, thinking that it was the anchors that were being referred to, he repeated the 'Let go' to the Third Officer on the forecastle. The port anchor having been cleared away but not walked out, was promptly let go. The effect of letting the anchor drop from the pipe while the vessel was proceeding at full harbour speed proved too much for the windlass brake, and the entire length of the port cable was pulled out by the roots. I fear that the damage to the chain locker may be extensive. The braking effect of the port anchor naturally caused the vessel to sheer in that direction, towards the swing bridge which spans a tributary of the river up which we were proceeding at the time
The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening the bridge for my vessel. Unfortunately he did not think to stop the vehicular traffic, the result being that the bridge partly opened and deposited a Volkswagen camper, two cyclists and a cattle truck on the foredeck. My ship's company are at present engaged in rounding up the contents of the latter, which, from the noise, I would say are pigs. In his efforts to stop the progress of the vessel the Third Officer dropped the starboard anchor, too late, unfortunately, to be of practical use, for it fell on and demolished the swing bridge operator's control cabin
After the port anchor was let go and the vessel started to sheer, I gave a double ring on the Engine-room Telegraph and personally rang the Engine-room to order maximum astern revolutions. I was informed that the sea temperature was 11 degrees and asked if there was a film tonight; a verbatim report of my reply would not add constructively to this account
Up to now I have confined my report to the activities at the forward end of the vessel. Down aft they were having their own problems. At the moment the port anchor was let go, the Second Officer was supervising the making fast of the after tug and was lowering the ship's towing spring down into the tug. The sudden braking effect of the port anchor caused the tug to run in under the stern of my vessel, just at the moment when the propeller was answering my double ring Full Astern. The prompt action of the Second Officer in securing the inboard end of the towing spring delayed the sinking of the tug by some minutes, thereby allowing the safe abandoning of that vessel
It is strange, but at the very moment of letting go the port anchor there was a power cut ashore. The fact that we were passing over a cable area at that time might suggest that we may have touched something on the river bed. It is perhaps lucky that the high-tension cables bought down by the foremast were not live, possibly being replaced by the underwater cables, but owing to the shore blackout, it is impossible to say where precisely the pylon fell
The tendency to over-reaction and panic displayed by foreigners in moments of minor crisis never ceases to amaze me. The pilot, for instance, is, at this moment, huddled in the corner of my day cabin, alternately crooning to himself and crying after having consumed a bottle of gin in a time which is worthy of inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records. The tug Captain, on the other hand, reacted violently, and has had to be forcibly restrained by the Steward, who has him handcuffed in the ship's hospital, where he is currently demanding that I do impossible things with my ship and my crew
I enclose the names and addresses of the drivers and of the insurance companies of the vehicles on my foredeck, which the Third Officer collected after his somewhat hurried evacuation of the forecastle. These particulars will enable you to claim for the damage which they did to the railings of No 1 hold
I fear that I shall have to limit the extent of this preliminary report, for I am having some difficulty in maintaining concentration against the sound of Police sirens and their flashing lights. It is sad to think that, had the apprentice realised that there is no need to fly the pilot flag after dark, none of this would have happened
For the Weekly Accountability Report I will assign the following Casualty Numbers, T/750101 to T/750199 inclusive
Yours truly