Question 11

Jack Mainland: “How long were you at sea altogether, and why did you leave?”

Bill Ballingall: “In round figures, I was with BP Shipping – as it became known – some 20 years. By the time I was in my mid-30’s, I had sailed as Chief Engineer for 6 years or so, and had spent a couple of years in our London office on special duties, as a so-called Assistant Engineer Superintendent. I felt I had done my bit, and a career change was in order. Unless I did something about it, I would be looking at spending the next 20-odd years sailing as a Chief Engineer.

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It’s an inevitable result of early promotions. I was sailing as ‘Chief’ at the age of 27, and as far as I’m aware, I was the youngest Chief in the history of BP Shipping. I would add that at the time, I was probably also the most apprehensive. I was all too conscious that my engineers would turn and look to the Chief in the event of major problems or breakdowns. A ‘Chief’ has no-one else to turn to.

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With regard to making a change, however, I was lucky. I was in the right place, and at the right time. I did a sideways move from BP Shipping, and into the North Sea oil and gas industry which was then in its infancy, but still with BP…”

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