Some events in the history of Sea Containers

exemplified by cartoons published in the newsletter

[Click on the item number to be taken to the thumbnail picture, then click on the thumbnail to enlarge the picture]


1.  In July 1985 we produced a supplement on Sealink activities and staff appointments and used (with their permission) a cartoon by ALB published by International Freighting Weekly at the time Sea Containers won the "auction" for the cross-Channel ferry service. At least two well-known figures can be identified on the cartoon, one of whom is/was Margaret Thatcher.  Some years later ALB became the newsletter's regular cartoonist.  [See No. 20 below]

2.  From the same source, this cartoon illustrated a story about problems experienced by the Sealink service to Belgium that were serious enough to form the subject of a debate in the House of Commons. (Newsletter of March 1986)

3.  Issue No 45 of May 1986 had a cartoon inspired by barges loaded with special boxes of YMCL design used to carry refuse.  It was a common sight to see them passing Sea Containers House on the Thames.  This was the first of our regular in-house produced cartoons.  It was provided by the much admired. and now sadly deceased, John Foster of Engineering Department.

4.  For a long period of time many of our cartoons were produced anonymously, the resident cartoonist being reluctant to disclose his identity as this might limit his satirical approach to some of the authority figures.  Chris Holt's somewhat "louche" cartoon reproduced here was related to nothing specific, but was appended to the story of the departure of Stephen Fraser from Reefer Department back to the United States whence he had been seconded.  (Issue 46 of July 1986)

5.  In September 1986 John Holmes-Walker somewhat exceptionally provided a story about Engineering Department innovations.  We felt this deserved a cartoon, and Chris Holt gave John the honour of featuring alongside JBS.

6.  David Collins put a story in the newsletter in December 1986 about a Sealink ship carrying cable to Bombay and subsequently to be scrapped on a beach in Pakistan.  I think this cartoon was again provided by John Foster.

7.  Chris Holt reappeared in January 1987 with this effort to accompany a story from YMCL, and a comment from RSW on third party sales of SeaCold machinery.

8.  Sealink's Earl William was leased by the British Home Office as a detention centre for suspected illegal immigrants, prompting this cartoon from Chris Holt in May 1987.  It may be of interest to recall that in this same issue we announced restoration of the Sealink service to Belgium.

9.  A rather innovative seizure of a vessel in a European port, in respect of a debt for container leasing, was instigated by Peter Dyke.  The vessel was then released in order to take a cargo to another European port, where it was again seized, the cargo providing enough cash to pay the outstanding container rental, whereupon the ship was released. This appeared in October 1987.

10. Ralph Torretta figured frequently in our cartoons.  This one, from January 1988, was inspired by a trip he made to Sicily.  This was the month, too, when we had to announce the sad death of John Foster.

11. A special milk tank was written up by Martyn Gill under the heading A Reefer of the Bovine Ilk (from an Ogden Nash verse: "The cow is of the bovine ilk / One end is moo, the other milk") in March 1988.  Chris Holt's imagination ran riot.

12. Bob Finch and Andrew Evans made a trip to Yugoslavia (reported in the newsletter of May 1988), in the course of which they were delayed because Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was due to arrive.  The juxtaposition explains this cartoon.  This was the last cartoon provided by Chris before his departure to the PR department of British Airways; which probably explains the presence of his initials. [See also Item 16]

13. In September 1988, a report to Rick Lidinsky from John Goodhue ("This US Navy fellow," wrote RAL, "helps in the search for Peter Dyke's stray units") accompanied by pictures revealed Sea Containers units at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.  "The only question (said Rick) is whether they are at the top or the bottom of the falls."   Memory suggests that Peter Brodrick of Crane Department took over from Chris Holt as resident cartoonist.  

14. November 1988, and we believe the cartoon [the second drawn by Peter Brodrick] needs no explanation, but maybe an apology for a certain degree of political incorrectness is now in order.

15. 1989, and a titbit from Maria Casadio revealed that a "customer's  partly submerged office building is actually a former U-boat".  We gave Peter his head on this one with this delightful result.

16. The identity of our past resident cartoonist was finally disclosed in this newsletter piece of December 1989.

17. A piece of Sea Containers' secret history in April 1989, once again featuring RAT.  On one of his regular trips with JB and Mrs Sherwood on the Lear Jet to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, they were  unable to get permission to land because ground control spoke no words of English and the pilots spoke no Spanish.  Ralph was pressed into service - pressed being the operative word - and ended the flight on his hands and knees, between pilot and co-pilot, struggling with the air-to-ground communication equipment, calmly relaying instructions between the aircraft's crew and the excitable ground staff.

18. A trip to Nigeria by Bob Finch and Mike Broadhurst (reported in September 1989) found them caught up in student riots during the ride from Ikeja airport to Lagos.  They discovered that fixing a branch of a tree to the front of the car identified them as sympathisers and guaranteed their safe passage.

19. We really can't find any specific news item in the issue of February 1990 to explain this particular cartoon.  But the figure at front left bears a remarkable resemblance to Andrew Evans.

20. Several months and three issues without a cartoon suggests that Peter Brodrick had left and no substitute had been found.  Then, from Sea Containers Australia, came this cartoon with a somewhat familiar style.  Investigation revealed that it had been drawn originally by ALB for International Freighting Weekly, and had been altered by SCA to suit their local conditions.  Reluctant to risk a breach of copyright, we contacted Albert Saunders via IFW and met him for a drink in a Fleet Street hostelry.  He confirmed that the original drawing was his own, gave us permission to use it, and we negotiated a very fine deal whereby he would provide his cartoons "for a pittance" providing we supplied the subject and "catchphrase".  

21. The cartoon in Issue 67 of January 1991 was prompted by Ian Routledge's story of McCain's use of 20 to 25 reefer loads of frozen chips daily from Tasmania to Geelong in Victoria.

22. The main theme of Issue 68 was John Keir's and John Bannister's presence in Moscow for Burns Night, when they initiated the Russians into the mysteries of the bagpipe, the kilt, and the haggis.

23. In May 1991 we had some slight misgivings about the political correctness of this cartoon, but we decided it was too outrageous for anyone to imagine an ethnic slur. Ian Routledge had been to Papua New Guinea and recounted some amusing tales.

24. The editorial in July 1991, entitled Separated by the Same Language,  was on the subject of problems faced by Rick Lidinsky in "explaining to his countrymen that their use of the English language and his use of the same tongue do not necessarily coincide."

25. This cartoon referred to an article on ventilated containers by James Coulson in the issue of September 1991.

26. Rick Lidinsky reported in December 1991 on the Autumn forum held by the National Defense Transportation Association that he attended together with James Coulson.  In his opening remarks, the Mayor of Biloxi described his city as "the seafood and sin capital of the Gulf Coast".  At checkout three days later, one General was heard to complain: "In three days I haven't seen or tasted either!"

27. This is one of my favourites.  It was reported by Joe Grimm of our San Francisco office that two reefers had been leased to a penal institution  in the Californian desert.  We left it to ALB to use the information as he wished.

28. Willem Kuster supplied an interesting story in April 1992.  Entitled Manure in Containers it related to a Netherlands government project to ship manure to Sri Lanka, that would permit return cargoes of edible oils.  It was planned to build twenty plants in the Netherlands to process manure into dry pellets.  We never heard whether or not it was successful.  In the meantime we embellished the cartoon with a parody of an older, rather more risqué limerick :

To ship some manure to Australia

They painted the box like a dahlia;

The colour was fine,

As was the design;

The aroma, alas, was a failure.

29. RAT made his reappearance for the third or fourth time in Issue No. 75 of July 1992.  He had earlier recounted a somewhat amusing but vague story that involved an aunt.  All attempts to elicit further information from him were unavailing, so we left it to ALB to come up with his own ideas.

30.  A prolonged lapse in publication of Issue No. 76 was the result of a combination of circumstances, not least of which was the departure of Andrew Evans (who had been monitoring the newsletter) and the simultaneous removal of the editor from London to the north-east of England.  Of great sadness was the loss of our cartoonist Albert Saunders to a sudden and unexpected death.  Issue No. 76, when it finally appeared in March 1993 carried an obituary notice and a retrospective of some of his best-liked cartoons.  In Summer 1993 Francisco Jimenez kindly offered to fill the breach.

31. Issue No. 78 contained another Francisco effort to complement an article by Andrew Pepper on the supply of two reefers to St. Helena Island in the south Pacific, tied into a reference to the banishment to the island of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815.

32. Spring 1994 and Francisco's cartoon was based on a story by Rob van Hoewijk of Sea Containers Rotterdam, describing how he had been asked to lecture students, at the secondary school attended by his daughter, on containers and containerisation.

33a, 33b  are  cartoons by supplied by Francisco Jimenez to illustrate two stories from Sea Containers Scandinavia in the Winter 1995/96 issue, one based on the provision of a container for the carriage of live fish, the other relating to the "arty-crafty" types who were apparently frequenting the Sea Containers Scandinavia's offices.

34. Subsequent issues of the Sea Containers Confidential Newsletter and, in due course, the GE SeaCo Newsletter continued to display cartoons by Francisco Jimenez, but as illustrations to his own articles.  He was one of the newsletter's most devoted contributors.



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