Arthur Tucker

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Arthur Tucker


The following article appeared in the Hull Daily mail on June 1st 1921.

Conquering a Mighty River. - The Romantic Career of a Trinity House Boy.
Captain Arthur Tucker of Hull, an old Trinity House boy, who has served as officer and Master in the service of the China Navigation Company of London for the past 20 years, is presently at home on holiday. He entered the Trinity House School in August 1892, and left in March 1896, having established a record which stands to this day. At the science and arts examinations held May 1894 he obtained the Queen's prize for Nautical Astronomy, and in May 1895 he won the Science and Arts bronze medal and Diploma for 1st. class honours in Navigation. On leaving the Trinity House School, he joined the four-master barque, Muscova, of Windsor, Nova Scotia, and served in her until January 1900. The remainder of 1900 being spent in the Mediterranean and Baltic trades in the steamers Borodin and Torbay respectively. In February 1901 he joined the four-masted Barque Oweenee (sister ship the Muscova)as third Officer, and sailed from Dublin to New York and Shanghai.

On arrival at Shanghai in October 1901, he joined the China Navigation Co (Messrs J. Swire and Sons Ltd. Billiter Square, London) as Second Officer and has remained with the firm ever since. In March 1903, he was promoted to Chief Officer and in February 1908 was promoted to Master, since which time he has commanded successively the following steamers:- Shasi, Wuhu, Sungkiang, Hupeh, Pakhoi, Tientsin, Luchow, Huichow, Szechuen, Chengtu, Taming, and Singan.

Torpedoed in the Mediteranean While in command of the S.S.Szechuen (H.M. Transport B.M.1860) the vessel was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine in the Mediterranean on May 10th 1918), and on this occasion Captain Tucker was awarded by the Committee Of Lloyds with the Lloyds Silver Medal for Meritorious Services, and a cheque for 50 pounds for meritorious services and gallantry, also a cheque for 100 pounds from the Ministry of Shipping (acting under Sir Joseph Maclay), the shipping controller, for gallantry and good seamanship.

After the loss of H.M.T. Szechuen, Captain Tucker was appointed to command H.M.T. Chengtu, remaining in command until the end of the war, and in February 1919, sailed from Middlesbrough with this vessel on her return to China to be handed back to her owners. On return to China he was transferred to the S.S. Taming, and later to the S.S Singan. In November 1919 he was selected by the Company's Marine Superintendent at Shanghai (Capt. R.Nelson) to study the navigation of the gorges and rapids of the Upper Yangtse River between Ichang and Chungking, with the object of taking command of a steamer to be specially built for this hazardous trade. This section of the Yangtse River has, until recent years, been considered unsuitable for steam navigation, all cargo up and down being in specially constructed junks carrying from 50 to 80 tons, but thanks to the efforts of the late Capt. S.C.Plant, (a Brit1sh shipmaster of the finest type who spent 60 years on this section of the river, the latter of which he served as River Inspector for the Chinese Maritime Customs), a mass of valuable experience and information has been gained, which enables the shipbuilder to produce a splendid type of light-draught, high speed steamer to overcome the difficulties of the rapids and gorges during the navigable months for steamers, say from April to November inclusive.

Violent Whirpools Some of the rapids run at about 14 miles per hour and have a distinct slope, the tail end of the rapid being a seething boiling mass of violent whirlpools, so that it can be easily understood that it requires a special type of high speed steamer to overcome these difficulties.
Captain Tucker studied the rapids and gorges from January to April 1920, by running between Ichang and Chungking in a Chinese junk of the "quadza" type, and during these few months had many exciting experiences partly on account of the rapids and gorges and partly on account of the unsettled state of the country and the consequent activities of bands of robbers. So bad was the latter at one particular period that a part of one trip had to be made on board a British gunboat, H.M.S. Teal.
From May Captain Tucker travelled between Ichang and Chungking on various steamers trading there, observing the various water levels and in their ever changing conditions. In June the captain of the Szechuen Steamship Company's S.S.Hungfok while the vessel was bound upriver, was detained at Wanhsien (half way between Ichang and Chungking) in charge of a naval guard. At the special request of the Szechuen Steamship Company and permission of his employers (The China Navigation Co. Ltd.) Captain Tucker proceeded to Wanhsien and took over command of the S.S.Hungfok, the steamer being handed over to him by Commander E.G.Jukes-Hughes, R.N. of H.M.S. Widgeow (S.N.O. Upper Yangtse) who then withdrew the naval guard.

':Some Exciting Experiences

Captain Tucker commanded the Hungfok until such time that the Szechuen Steamship Company could obtain the services of another master, after which he continued to travel between Ichang and Chungking in the various steamers, having many exciting experiences in the dangerous rapids and whirlpools, besides the shooting from the robbers along the banks. In July while bound to Chungking in the S.S. An Lan (Asiatic Petroleum Company) the steamer was held up for four days by the Kwan-yin-tan (Goddess of Mercy) rapid, it being impossible for any steamer to pass it. A freshet coming down the river had caused the water level to rise 95 ft. above the winter level at Chungking, and this rise had transformed the Kwan-yin-tan from a swift race to a seething boiling mass with violent swirls. No steamer can pass the Kwan-yin-tan under these conditions. Therefore they tie up to the river bank a few miles below the rapid in a comparatively broad part of the river.
In October, while bound to Chungking, in the S.S.Meitan (Standard Oil Company of New York) the vessel struck a rock and commenced to fill rapidly. Fortunately she was beached in time to prevent sinking. At the end of the steamer season of 1920 captain Tucker returned to Shanghai and left that port on December 15th. for London.
The steamer that is being built for the China Navigation Company, Ltd. and which will be commanded by Captain Tucker, will be named Kiating. She is nearing completion in a Clyde shipyard, and will be shipped to the Far East in pieces. She will probably be put together in The China Navigation's Co's Taikoo dockyard at Hong Kong and sail up the coast to Shanghai, thence a 1,000 miles up the Yangtse river to the port of Ichang, which is the lower limit of her run. From Ichang to Chungking is about 375 miles, and before long it is hoped to open up another section to Suife, about 250 miles above Chungking.
Captain Tucker will return to China in command of the new turbine steamer Kweiyang which is being built by Messrs Scott & Co. of Greenock, for the China Navigation Company, Limited.

N.B. The Oweenee was four masted barque, I.D. No 1100264, built by Richardson Duck of Thornaby, completed October 1891. grt 2432 tons, length 309 ft, beam 42 ft. Original owner, F.C.Mahon, sold to Anglo-Saxon petroleum Co Ltd. in 1920 and renamed Ortinashell. In 1919 she was converted to a motor tanker, two 8 cylinder diesel engines being installed. The vessel was hulked in 1938 and broken up in 1946. The An Lan, ID No. 1139770 was built for the Asiatic Petroleum Co. (North China) by Kiangnan shipyard, Shanghai in 1917. Grt 392 tons, length 187 ft., beam 27 ft., twin screw with two steam turbines. The vessel, when in ballast, was wrecked on Tsaomentzu Reef, Chungking on 21-5-1925, while on a voyage from Chungking to Ichang.


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