BRITISH MERCHANT NAVY CADET TRAINING SHIPS
Launched on 27th August 1946 by Mrs Lawrence D Holt, the Calchas was built by Harland and Wolff Limited in Belfast.
Technical Data on Calchas indicates that she was a cargo vessel of 7,639 gross tons with a length overall of 487 feet 0 inches. Her 8 cylinder, 2 cycle, double-acting diesel engine gave her a service speed of 15 knots.
From her first voyage in 1947, Calchas was designated as the Company’s training ship, and she operated in this role until 1956. Calchas had accommodation for 22 midshipmen. Eighteen of them occupied the seamen’s house at the after end of the centrecastle, abaft No. 4 hatch, and the remaining 4 were housed in the half deck. Training was planned so that, on any one voyage, half the midshipmen were on their first trip on her, and the other half were on their second. There were only 2 professional seamen on board, the Bosun and the Carpenter, and so the midshipmen were responsible for undertaking all the other duties of a normal deck crew. Senior deck crew positions such as Bosun’s Mate, Carpenter’s Mate and Lamptrimmer were allocated to senior midshipmen on merit.
Calchas was not equipped with a schoolroom, nor did she carry a dedicated schoolmaster. Whilst on board Calchas, midshipmen continued to study through a correspondence course, which was designed, administered and assessed by the Company’s training department, and the ship’s officers would offer advice and help if requested to do so.
In 1955, Calchas carried 14 engineer cadets in place of firemen and greasers, but, after only a few voyages, this experiment was discontinued.
Any material that you would like to display would be most gratefully received.
So far, it has not proved possible to obtain a copy of a capacity plan for Calchas, but a small amount of data gleaned from such sources as Lloyds Register of Shipping and magazine articles is available for download as a pdf. If anyone has a capacity plan for Calchas, it would be mostly gratefully received. Once copied, the original would be returned to the owner.
On her last voyage as a training vessel, Calchas steered a new course across the Gulf of Thailand. Midshipman George Berry was serving as Bosun’s Mate on that voyage, and he wrote an article for the Halfdeck about the role that the midshipmen played in taking soundings along the new track. It is available for download as a pdf here.
The job of ‘Peggy’ was, arguably, one of the least attractive that apprentices had to perform during the period of their indentures. Brian Edmonds, who was a midshipman on Calchas for Voyages 24 and 25, has kindly produced an interesting article based upon his recollections of the role of the lowly ‘Peggy’, and it is available for download as a pdf here.
When Lawrence Holt’s wife, Evelyn, launched the Calchas, the builders presented her with a memento of the occasion. Lawrence Holt’s grandson, William Champion, has very kindly provided an article about this, and it is available for download as a pdf here.
Any anecdotes that you may have of Calchas would be most gratefully received.