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Tribute To The Forgotten Mariners

The fog horn booms its farewell note, and proudly on her way,
The gleaming liner eases away, in grandeur down the bay.
An opulent hotel at sea, she is her owner’s pride,
The culmination of a great dream, as she floats upon the tide.

The passengers in festive mood, with laughter and good quips,
With keen delight, they look forward to, the great ship’s maiden trip.
She’s sure to break the speed record, she’ll do thirty knots or more,
Is the hope of all on board, as she leaves her native shores.

Upon the bridge roams the Captain, a Master proud and bold,
Bedecked in gorgeous raiment’s, of navy blue and gold.
All eyes are fixed upon him and its sure going to his head!
When he stops to drop the Pilot off, then rings ‘Full Speed Ahead’.
And ‘Down below’ the efforts start, for the battle with the seas,
Weary Engineers, not clad in gold, but greasy dungarees.

On deck, the scene is blithe and gay – fair ladies, song, and wine,
All hell is raging ‘Down below’, beneath the Plimsoll line.
The Chief roars out orders, to the men on watch below,
Obediently they follow his mandate, and about their tasks they go

Steam pressures must not fluctuate, nor the bearings run ‘hot’,
Cause the revs must not be allowed to drop, to make their thirty knots.
At dinner, on the first night out, the Captain proudly boasts;
“We’ll surely break the last record”, as the gallant Ship he toasts.
But making or breaking records, never puts grey hair on his head,
Cause his useful contribution had ended, when he rang ‘Full Speed Ahead’!

Through weary days and sleepless nights, to consummate this dream,
The Engineers toil incessantly, till the Light house is abeam.
The record has been broken, with thirty one point four –
The Captain sews another stripe, he’s now a ‘Commodore’!

And thus he gets the credit, for what other men have done:
He boasts to press and radio, about the record that he has won.
Neglecting even to mention, as he swings his ballyhoo,
Those tireless men, with brawn and guts, who shoved his great ship through.

The moral of this poem then, is stated quite conclusively,
That glory seldom goes to those, who actually contribute to the victory.
So keep this simple thought in mind, about any record trip,
The men behind the scenes, are those who run the ship.

– Vikram Gokhale & N. Nanda (authors of NG Series)

[Mr Vikram Gokhale and Mr. N. Nanda are both Marine Engineers, who are senior faculty with LBS College. They have extensive experience, not only as teachers in the Marine field, but also practical experience as shipboard engineers, in tackling a variety of problems.]

Categories: Blogs

14 replies »

  1. very poor, wrong example and in bad taste. a captain of the ship not only gets credit when his men do well but also gets kicked when they dont. he is the wholesole responsibilty for the ship and represents the ship outside. havent you guys heard of late Capt mulla, who went down with his ship?

  2. very poor. it is quite obvious without glancing at the authors qualifications that it has been written by telus ( sick engineers) the telus forgotten that the ship has to be maneouvred by the master and then navigated by deck officer so that she reaches her port of destination safely.

  3. Please do not revive the old deck and engine fight.Technology has rendered the divide meaningless

  4. A VERY GOOD ARTICLE. HOWEVER AUTHOR HAS FORGOT TO MENTION ANOTHER IMPORTANT JOB OF CAPTAIN, OF INSPECTING TOILET AND DOING CANTEEN MANAGER JOB (BUYING PROVISION)

  5. Navigating Officers too often suffer from “highrise syndrome”. That is, “Since Im way up here I must be more importent than you are.”

  6. THE TRUTH; VESSEL ON FULL AWAY-AUTO PILOT BOUND; ON MANOUVERING -PILOT BOUND. JOB OF MASTER IS PLAYING POLITICS+EATING MONEY ON PROVISION.

  7. Such a peom can be expected only from Marine Engineers. The inferiority complex continues. The authgors come from the dark ages when the divide between the Deck & Engine may have been as wide as the Grand Canyon.

  8. With all honesty and after 30 years at sea I can comment on just one aspect of sea life and that would be that an Engineer is always an Engineer and will never understand a deck officers point of view

  9. I donot understand inspite of having so much of experience in life as well on sea how could one can say that ship is run only by one man or by one department its a team work and every person has its own responsibiity .Why we indian still fight on these issue why??????

  10. This is a excellent article,i am going thru some rough patches,for the past 2 years,and have mostly seen,very very bad politics,in ships,with all indian,we must not fight for deck and engine,instead,we msust live and die like one family,because,we are seafarers,not politicians!

  11. Happy days will come again. Sail/wind and oars and very tough masters, mates and deck-hands will be the energy source available to run the ship. No fossil fuel, no engineer/engineer supdt. therefore no mirch.

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