Donald Kennedy - Life at sea

Running time
1 min 57 sec

Department of Veterans' Affairs


I was made a deck boy, which was a job there that required you to be part of the deck crew, only about 10 of us. The training consisted of being taken up onto the bridge, and showed the steering wheel, and point out the compass, and steer the ship.

You did three watches a day, four hour watches. If you start at mid-day, you went until 4:00 pm. Then midnight until 4:00 am. You did that seven days a week. When you're up on the bridge of the ship, you had two hours steering the ship and two hours out on the wing on look out. Because we had no lights, there was no radar or anything like that. That was my job at sea.

Subsequently through the inflection of time, rather than skill, I became an ordinary seaman. Then later on subsequently, AB they call it, able-bodied seaman. That was the peak of my shipping career. I was on a Norwegian Tanker. That ship had been built in Germany in 1938 and it was a pretty nice ship. I think there was only two. We had a fairly comfortable life, there's no question about that. It was never a hardship.

The Norwegians didn't have enough crew, you see, because a lot of their ships had sunk and they lost a lot of seaman and they recruited Australians wherever they could to get their crew. They were pretty good. They didn't like speaking English much. I had to learn Norwegian.


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