Monday, 27 April 2020

Luke Smout: My First Job on a Ferry

Luke Smout- feeling a bit giddy!
Back in 2019, I saw an advertisement on Facebook for a job vacancy on the Harwich Harbour Ferry and at that point in my life I was trying to try all different things, so I decided to apply for the job.

For the avoidance of doubt, I suffer with really bad sea sickness- I even felt a bit giddy on a canal barge on our last family holiday. So a job on a small passenger foot ferry in the Orwell Estuary may not have been my greatest idea to date.

A bit of history of the Harwich Harbour Ferry. In it's previous life, The Ferry was actually a life boat on the SS Canberra ocean liner.  

She was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland at a cost of £17,000,000. The ship was named on 17 March 1958, after the federal capital of Australia, Canberra. 

She was launched on 16 March 1960, sponsored by Dame Pattie Menzies, GBE, wife of the then Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Menzies. 

She entered service in May 1961, and made her maiden voyage starting in June. She appeared in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. 

In the 1982 Falklands War she served as a troop ship. In 1997 the singer and songwriter Gerard Kenny released the single "Farewell Canberra" which was specially composed for the last voyage.

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, which initiated the Falklands War. At the time, Canberra was cruising in the Mediterranean. 

The next day, her captain Dennis Scott-Masson received a message asking his time of arrival at Gibraltar, which was not on his itinerary. When he called at Gibraltar, he learnt that the Ministry of Defence had requisitioned Canberra for use as a troopship. 

Canberra sailed to Southampton, Hampshire where she was quickly refitted, sailing on 9 April for the South Atlantic.

Rough seas. . . Credit: Luke Smout

I really enjoyed my short stint on the ferry and surprisingly I was never actually sea sick- the skipper told me that it was because of the short distance of the crossing and that no one to date has ever been sick on the boat, even when it gets a bit choppy. 

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time and felt proud to have contributed in a small way in the Ferry's 104 year history, I live in Felixstowe, which meant I had to commute to Harwich quite frequently, which wasn't exactly ideal! 


If you are ever given a chance to work on the Ferry, I would 100% recommend that you should give it a go, even if it is to combat your seasickness!

Luke Smout


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