The ss "Falcon" in distress!
On Saturday, December 4th., 1954, at 20.44
GMT, the steamer "Falcon" reported leakage in the engine room. At this
time there was a west- northwesterly gale of force 11
blowing with tempestuous seas outside the Ymuiden - Harbour. A message was at once sent to
the "Falcon"via Scheveningen Radio offering the services of the tug
"Noord-Holland" and at 22.00 GMT the tug left Ymuiden Harbour for the position given
in the first wireless message: "FALCON, HOUU 54.03 N. 03.42 E. 2030 gmt true course
degrees speed 3 knots vessel leaking in engine room - master".
Our services were accepted on Lloyd's Open Form. 'No Cure-No Pay. Also the tug "Cycloop" was sent out for the "Falcon" Both tugs shipped very heavy seas overall. They proceeded with all speed to the given position which was 68 miles N.N.W. of Ymuiden . At 09.00 hours the "Cycloop"came up with the "Noord-Holland" lying close to the "Falcon". Also the Dutch trawler "Klaas Wijker"was lying near the stern of the "Falcon". The crew of the "Falcon"had been taken off by the trawler. The "Falcon"was lying very low in the water, listing to port and, with the wind abeam, was shipping heavy seas all over. She was heading in a south westerly direction. Salvage-captain De Koe, on board of the "Cycloop" had previously seen a crack about half an inch wide down the starboard side of the "Falcon" amidships. Unless the ship was taken in tow for harbour earliest possible, the "Falcon" was in danger of sinking. There was water in her engineroom and stoke hold and of course there was no steam on board. In these circumstances Captain De Koe decided to get his men on board the "Falcon" by any means. Captain De Koe, the Chief Officer and one sailor got on board at 13.00 hours.
In spite of the heavy seas, with waves 12 feet high, captain Broek of the "Cycloop"transferred the Salvage Engeneer and a sailor of the "Noord-Holland", which tug now joined with the "Falcon" and on board the men tried to haul the tugs 5½" steel wire by hand, but they were unable to haul it on board. The line was broken by the heavy seas. This happened in spite of the fact that the "Noord-Holland"came so closeto the ship, that a heavy sea threw her stern against the port bow of the "Falcon" doing damage to both vessels. The "Noord-Holland" went off to haul in her wire, the "Cycloop"then joined with the "Falcon"and the men were successful in hauling her 4½" wire on board, which was made fast to the ship's port bow. This was accomplished at 13.45 hours. The "Noord-Holland" connected at 15.00 hours.
Captain De Koe and the Salvage
Engeneer made a quick inspection on board. The"Falcon" had water in her
engineroom to a depth of several feet and they discovered a crack in her hull and deck
plating in way of her cross bunker about half an inch wide, which at times parted with the
movement of the ship. The men realised that it was neccessary to seal this crack as far
down as possible, and during the pauses between attempts to take tugs lines, the men were
busy plugging the crack with ropes and canvas. The crack on deck extended to the casing
and with the ship's list to port, the crack was constantly under water. By the plugging
efforts, they saved undoubtedly many tons of water entering the engineroom and stoke hold
through the cross bunker.
When the tugs had made fast captain De Koe signalled them by aldis-lamp to tow very slowly and carefully towards Ymuiden, this being the nearest safe port for this vessel with her draught. A lifeboat was proceeding from Den Helder as the Master and theWireless Operator of the "Falcon" and the two trawler men of the "Klaas Wijker" who where still on board, were determined not to remain on board during the night. The lifeboat, the "Dorus Rijkers", took off the man and remained with the salvors during the night in case the ship foundered. The "Noord-Holland" and the "Cycloop" commenced to tow and as the tow proceeded it became more and more difficult. The "Falcon" by now was down by the head because of the water in No. 1 hold (whitch they discovered next morning) and she was continuously sheering badly to starboard.
During the night the weather moderated a little with a West North West wind force 6 and in the morning of the 6th December the Master and Wireless Operator came back on board. During the morning the man were taking soundings of No. 1 hold and found 26 feet of water. In the engineroom there was about 10 feet of water. The salvors kept constant watch on the cracked deck plates and plugged the crack from time to time.
The Noord Holland came close to the bow of the Falcon
When about 6
miles from Ymuiden the tugs altered course to approach the piers. This brought the wind on
the "Falcon's" port quarter and she started sheering very badly to port.
Consequently, the ship listed to starboard, with the result that the crack on her
starboard site was constantly under water. This increased the depth of the water in her
engine room to such an extent that the Captain said that she was likely to sink at any
moment and he asked for the lifeboat to take him of.
In view of the serious position which was now accentuated by heavy squalls of wind, Captain De Koe ordered all men off.
Later Captain De Koe and five of his men boarded the "Falcon" again, while the tow was proceeding to the harbour. Powerfull pumps were put on board the "Falcon", after the ship was towed into Ymuiden harbour. In the afternoon the "Falcon" was put on soft mud in the Berghaven. The pumps were put into immediate action and divers were sent down to examine the ship. On December 11th. the "Falcon" was towed by four harbour tugs to Amsterdam for drydocking and repairing, after discharging the cargo.
Extract of the Radio Logbook
0545 "Falcon": Please make us fast as soon as possible.
0546 "Noord-Holland": We are doing our utmost.
0608 "Noord-Holland": We will fire a rocket with line. Let us know when hawser is well secured.
0624 "Falcon": You can start slowly.
0625 "Noord-Holland": Starting slowly.
0630 "Noord-Holland": Ships which are standing by will follow us in case matters get out of hand.
Near Ymuiden the Falcon was sheering badly behind the
Noord Holland left, and the Cycloop right.