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Able Bodied Seaman

Heroes Remember

When I on the vessel, the first steam ship, in the Merchant Navy, I was an able seaman. Now an able-body seaman, you had to be a rigger. And the first ship that I went aboard and certainly you reported to the boatswain, he would be the deck foreman. And he knew that I was signed on as an able seaman and he took me up forward and he said there's two wire runners here, that had to be changed and spliced. He said "There's a wire there," and he said, "put an eye splice in each one of those runners and weave it off on the winches." And I said "What kind of a splice do you want in it?" "Oh," he said, "a Liverpool." That's the name of a splice in a wire. So I went ahead and I, I got the rigging up and I cut my wire and I went ahead with the Maryland spikes and I spliced, I spliced my wire, and I was at... see he went on he went back aft, to crew working that we were in the . . . And when he come and he looked at the second one he said "That's good enough. Now," he said "come with me and take a coil of this six thread rope." So I took a coil of the six thread rope and went up to the lifeboats and he said "Replace the grab lines around that boat." And you had to put long splices in them. So I did that, he said "Alright." He never bothered me after, because I have shown that I was an able seaman. And an able seaman, you had to be a rigger. And those days, on the ships is not like now, the containers and that. All of our cargo, there was different types of cargo, you had it in slings. And rope slings, that had to be long splices. And then you had cargo trays and you had to make cargo trays. And you had long splices and you had and short splices in them. And the seaman who boarded the ships, in those days, we had to, we had to make all of our own cargo gear, every bit of it. So that was, that's what an able seaman is on a ship.

Mr. Pike describes some of the skills required of an able bodied seaman. Recalling how the officer on his first ship tested his rigging abilities.

Ernest Pike

Mr. Ernest Pike was born in Newfoundland on September 17, 1921. With both parents being dead by 1934, Mr. Pike began to work at sea, sailing for seven months of the year and attending school in between. Wanting to fight for Canada, Mr. Pike immigrated from Newfoundland in 1941. Already sailing with Canadian National Steamship Lines, he signed up for the Merchant Navy. Mr. Pike remained with the Merchant Navy for the course of the war, sailing with numerous ships including the Chomedy, Lady Rodney, and Lady Nelson. Fracturing his skull in heavy action, Mr. Pike was laid up for three months but recovered and quickly returned to active service. Mr. Pike remained at sea after the war, eventually becoming master of the Abegweit, a P.E.I.- N.B. ferry and settling in Summerside, P.E.I., In 1966, he retired in 1978 after 35 years of service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ernest Pike
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Merchant Navy
Able Seaman

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