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Ishmael932
02-25-2006, 07:23 PM
Tales of the Inadvertent Pacifist Part 2

The Solid Gold Cadillac and the Sheiks of Araby


In early 1947, my father, Ray Scott, signed on as an Able Seaman aboard a Chevron Oil tanker, the SS David E. Day for a three month voyage from San Pedro, California to Ras Tanura and Ras Al-Mishab in Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. It was the early postwar period and oil imports from Saudi Arabia were just starting to come online. It was my father€s second trip to the gulf, but the previous trip had been aboard a cargo ship from the east coast via the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. It was, therefore, his first tanker run in that part of the world.

Few realize it now, but at that time, the United States still possessed the largest merchant shipping fleet in the world. As a result of the war, most European shippers had lost most of their fleets due to submarine warfare as did the Japanese merchant fleet. At the same time, the American merchant ship building boom had provided a surfeit of riches for American shipping companies and the union seafarers who crewed those ships.

A day before they were scheduled to pull out, a semi-truck hauling a flatbed trailer arrived on the pier with a large sealed crate tied down to it. Behind the semi, was a bus containing 16 men. As the bemused crew watched, a crane came down the pier, as the semi driver unstrapped his load from the trailer. The men from the bus gathered together and produced shotguns and submachine guns. They then split into two groups. One group remained around the crate on the pier while the other group proceeded up the gangway to confer with the captain, who had appeared at the head of the gangway. The leader of the second group handed the captain a cargo manifest and they talked for a few minutes, then that group proceeded forward of the wheelhouse to a clear space on the forecastle of the ship. Once there they cordoned off an area and stationed themselves around it with their weapons at the ready. While all of this was going on, the crate had been unstrapped from the trailer, the crane had hooked up to it and was loading it into the area under guard on the forecastle of the ship. Once it was loaded aboard, the first group of armed men came aboard and were given quarters with the ship€s officers. All but four of the second group joined them saying nothing to the crew.

By this time, most of the crew had turned out to watch this evolution and to wonder what was in the crate. Since a tanker carries oil as it€s cargo, the sight of any crate being loaded onto a tanker was unusual in the extreme. Add to this all of the armed men and everyone figured something special was contained in it, but none of the ship€s mates had a clue as to what it was. So the crew returned to the work of readying the ship for sea and she pulled out with the tide the following morning. It wasn€t until they were at sea that the third mate finally let slip what was in the crate. He told one of the deck gang that Chevron, as one of the partners in ARAMCO, the Arabian-American Oil Company, was taking a gift to one of the Saudi princes who was the Arabian manager of the Saudi oil fields. It seems that the prince had a fondness for Cadillacs so Chevron had bought him a brand new Fleetwood convertible. When the seaman asked why all the guards for just a car, the mate smiled and told him that this was a very special Cadillac. It seems that to impress the prince with their sincerity and esteem, Chevron had all the chrome parts on the car removed and replaced with parts made from 14 karat gold. This was the reason for all the armed guards, to safeguard the car until it was delivered to it€s intended recipient.

Needless to say the news spread through the crew like wildfire. Everyone had visions of boosting a hubcap and retiring. However, the mate had also told them that the guards were ordered to shoot to kill anyone who got close to the crate. So as the voyage progressed, the crew and the guards settled into their respective watch routines as there were always 4 guards around the crate 24 hours a day, changing watch every four hours. Since the crate was directly below the wheelhouse amidships, the mate on watch also monitored the crate as well. So the voyage passed uneventfully enough as she slowly made her way across the Pacific, through the Malacca straits, across the Indian ocean and up the Persian gulf.

After a month and a half, the David E Day finally moored pierside at Ras Tanura. A crane came down the pier and the group of armed men split in two again, one group taking station on the pier as the crane unloaded the crate on the dock. At that time, a small group of oil executives and members of the Saudi royal family arrived on the pier and watched as the car was uncrated and filled with gasoline. As the car appeared from under the crate in the bright desert sun, the car dazzled all who saw it as the sun flashed off of the golden grill, bumpers, hubcaps and trim of the car. Once the car was fueled, the prince received the keys from the ARAMCO executives, climbed behind the wheel and started up the Cadillac with a roar. Then the ARAMCO execs all piled into the car with the prince and they drove off down the pier. The armed guards loaded their guns and gear on a bus and away they went as well.

So Ray and the crew went back to work and at the end of the day, my father went below to change clothes and hit the beach. He came topside and proceeded down the gangway only to be stopped by a Saudi guard at the foot of the gangway. The guard said the crew was forbidden to come ashore. When Ray asked why, the Saudi guard replied,

€œYou can€t come ashore because you€re an infidel dog who defiles the land by walking on it!€

After this had sunk into Ray for a few seconds, he replied to the guard,

€œOK. No problem. No hard feelings. Hey, are you hungry? Have you eaten at all?€

The guard told Ray that he hadn€t eaten, so Ray told him he would go have the cook make up a couple of roast beef sandwiches for him. The guard thanked him and Ray went below to the galley. He had the cook make a couple of sandwiches which he took to the guard and watched while the guard ate them. As he was going back up the gangway, he said back to the guard,

€œOh, I forgot to tell you, the cook was out of roast beef so he made you a couple of ham sandwiches instead.€

My father ran below while the guard attempted to stick his fingers down his throat to vomit up the unclean animal he had just consumed. Ray had to stay below for the next two days as the guard was going to kill him if he showed his face on deck. After two days, the ship pulled out for Ras Al-Mishab to load oil, but nothing was said about the ham sandwich incident, apparently because ARAMCO didn€t want anyone to learn of their €œBaksheesh€ to the prince.



Richard B. Scott 2006
All rights reserved.

russ.nl
02-26-2006, 12:48 AM
Your father sure was a karaktar http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Hawgdog
02-26-2006, 11:55 AM
Good story, but...ah...Chevron wasn't Chevron until 1953

1953 Chevron Oil Company The first operating company, a geophysical research subsidiary incorporated in Delaware, took the Chevron name - Chevron Oil Company.

Ishmael932
02-26-2006, 03:31 PM
You are entirely correct,Hawgdog. At the time it was a Standard Oil of California tanker. When I saw it in the 70's it was a Chevron tanker

Hawgdog
02-26-2006, 03:56 PM
Some of those T-2's are still in use. Most modified, but in use