Wednesday, 16 September 1998

Work experience

16.06.1998 - 16.09.1998
M/v Superstar Sagittarius

M/v Superstar Sagittarius

As I had applied for a job in Star Cruises something like a year ago and I had been contacted by the HR department in Sweden and a bit before Roslagen I had been invited to visit their Offices. I went to Stockholm for an interview and to Skåne for a psychological evaluation. The psychological test was weird but aren't they all a bit odd in that profession. In the Navy we also had to do a psych test and it involved questions like "do you like flowers?", "do you sometimes feel that you have a band squeezing your head?" - makes sense doesn't it?

So, then I got the call that I was to fly to Port Klang, Malaysia and join Superstar Sagittarius (SSS) as 2nd Officer. Said and done I was on my way and joined up, a familiarisation was conducted by the Officer I was relieving so I got the best introduction that one could have. SSS was a Finnish built ship back from 1972 originally built for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and launched as Sun Viking. She is 172m long with 18455 gross tons and carries abt 800 passengers with 350 crew.

Made in the Helsinki shipyard she was still a classic old lady with her long sleek bow and champagne glass stern and the RCCL signature crown lounge in the funnel. As old as she was the tank top was getting rotten, safety equipment needed a lot of service and machinery in geenral was worn out. Spares were difficult, if not impossible, to find, because of her age.

The crew on Star Cruises was really multi national, there were people from all over the world with Filipinos and Malays topping the list, then came all the SE Asian countries and after that Scandinavians with some odd Australian and Central European thrown in. We were cruising out from Port Klang to Lumut and sometimes just high seas gambling cruises. The Captain was an old Norwegian fellow named Kristiansen that I think must have followed the boat since the times of RCCL.

I recall one day in Port Klang when the Safety Manager wanted me to take down all the lifeboats and run the engines and train in rowing the boats. Well, said and done I took respective boats down with their assigned crews and drove down the river a bit and then we did some rowing for abt half an hour. Then we started back and as we were turning towards SSS one of the lifeboat engines died. No worries there, we took her on tow and continued but lo and behold we were going full ahead but looking at the shore we were not moving anywhere. The tide was rising so fast and we were going against the tide but the life boat did not make any headway because it was towing another one. One hour turned into another, the sun was scorching, the boats were of open model so there was no shade, luckily we wore caps. We had to drink the water from the tanks as we got more and more parched. Finally, the crew on the other lifeboat managed to get some life into the engine and we reached SSS and hoisted all boats into their davits.

SSS as m/v Long Jie with Conning Shipping

As a footnote to SSS, she was soon sold to cruise between South and North Korea after that she was bought by Conning Shipping, incidentally the same Company that chartered and later owned Columbus Caravelle.
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