SHF – John Oxley

Seamans Union newspaper article 1964

JO-Seamans-Union-1964John Oxley was donated to our organisation back in 1968 and was steamed from Brisbane to Sydney by a volunteer crew. At handover, a newspaper clipping had been found taped to the bulkhead in the crew’s mess. This particular article was from the Seamans Union paper and dated from 1964.

In those days, John Oxley had a crew of 14. Master, mate, leading hand or bosun, and four AB’s on deck – Chief Engineer, second engineer and three firemen down below (no greasers) – plus a cook and a steward for the pilots.

John Oxley carried two pulling boats that were used to transfer pilots for this work. An excellent description of this work was written by long time SHF member Ron Theile, who served on John Oxley in the 1950’s on deck and in the pulling boats.

See also the account of Ron Thiele.

Pilot work was a 24 hour a day all weather activity. The crew could be called out at any time, night or day, to steam John Oxley into position and then carry out the pilot transfer.

The crew described this as the “24 hours on system”!

Evidently, the crew, after an arduous 24 hours of toil, jacked up and demanded some time off for rest and some sleep. This resulted in an appearance before the industrial courts with the decision going against the crew.

The clipping reports on this case, and our John Oxley is described as a “rust bucket” with “the worst living conditions of any ship on the entire Australian coast”.

Click on the article to enlarge.