GEOFF ORGILL & MARTIN O'ROURKE - HMS COOK 1961-2.
The Survey Ship HMS COOK took Geoff Orgill to the Far East and the Pacific Gilbert and Ellis Islands in 1961-2. Also amongst the c.130 crew was Martin O'Rourke who has kindly sent these pictures and recollections.
I am particularly grateful to be able to add this now, on the 1st of April 2018, as we remember the subsequent loss of Geoff with Frank Dunham whilst surveying in the Thames Estuary 54 years ago today.
Martin writes, " I'm sure Geoff's family would love to see the pictures as they have not been seen before. It certainly was a great experience operating in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and I got to know Geoff very well sailing around various Atolls in an outrigger canoe, he taking the sounding recordings and fixes etc. as I looked on in bewilderment at his bag of equipment. I would transmit his daily tide readings, depth readings, fixes etc. to HMS COOK somewhere in the South Pacific for them to evaluate. When the ship detached a shore party they would live with the local people as we did for 6 weeks.
The island we used as a base was Abiaing just off the main island of Tarawa, the scene of big battles during World War Two"
Geoff (Surveyor) and Martin (Radio Operator) detached from their ship to survey areas too shallow for the ship.
Left and below ...
with two local islanders and their outrigger used in the surveying.
An entertaining Island Concert at Abaiang.
HMS COOK - © IWM (FL 8464)
HMS COOK, was built as a 'Bay' Class frigate but after launch at Pickerskill's on the River Tees in 1947 she was taken to Devonport Naval Dockyard where she was completed and first commissioned as a survey ship in 1950.
COOK had commissioned for the 6th time on the 20th of March 1961 at Hong Kong under the command of Commander J Paton and it was during this commission that Martin and Geoff worked together.
The weather they worked through around the Gilbert and Ellice Is. - less than 100 miles south of the Equator - is included here so that we might understand their 'suffering'. Annual Temperatures vary between 32.5 & 25C (89/75F) and Rainfall ranges from 220 & 120mm per month. Despite or because of that it really was hard work!
The Gilbert & Ellice Islands became independent from Britain on the 1st of April 1976 and 1st of October 1978 respectively becoming KIRIBATI (Capital: Turawa) and TUVALU (Capital: Funifuti).
This ORGILL/O'ROURKE - HMS COOK 1961-2 page first published 1 April 2018