35 Fijians on British oil tanker

The Fijian seamen on board the British oil tanker the Hector Heron. Picture: FILE

On Tuesday, July 15, 1969, 35 Fijian seamen had replaced Chinese crew members as deckhands, engine room staff, carpenters, cooks and stewards on board the Hector Heron, a 12,795-tonne British oil tanker.

Fiji Dockworker’s and Seamen’s Union general secretary Taniela Veitata said the tanker was the biggest overseas ship to take on a Fijian crew.

Other overseas ships manned by Fijians then were the Thor I, Thorsisle, Thorsgaard, Taranui, Moana, Konanda and Jean Phillippe.

Mr Veitata said the Fijians would work on the tanker for an indefinite period.

“They will sail and carry petroleum to all parts of the world. They may be away from six to seven years,” he said.

The Hector Heron was owned by Scottish Tankers Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the British Commonwealth Shipping Co.

It had arrived in Suva from Singapore with nine Chinese seamen who were then flown home from Fiji. The other 26 Chinese were paid-off in Singapore.

The Hector Heron had made several calls previously at Fiji’s port and it was due to sail from Suva for Lautoka and Sydney on July 14, 1969.

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