Details, Details

As promised, this post contains more information about FOC’s former* side ports. Please understand that this is not a formal report, but just a loose collection of notes and observations.

To set the scene, so to speak, here are some photos of one of Balclutha’s side ports that were kindly provided to me by Chris Jannini.

The general location of the side port on the port side of the ship:

Balclutha port side port location

Exterior detail. Note the hinges:

Balclutha side port detail

Interior detail:

Balclutha side port int detail


FOC’s four side ports are all located in the strake we have designated as “K”:

port side K

There are two on each side of the ship. I have marked their locations on one of the drawings by Robert Jamieson:


(The red vertical lines indicate the locations of the oil tank bulkheads.)

Their specific locations, based on visual examination of the exterior of the hull and photos of the interior taken during the recent survey:

Tank 3 between frames** 60 and 62
Tank 5 between frames 24 and 26

Tank 1 between frames 96 and 98
Tank 3 between frames 54 and 56

The following photos are of the current exterior and corresponding interior appearance of each port. The shots of the port side ports were taken from Pier 8 and had to be cropped, thus the poorer quality.

Features to note when looking at the interior shots:

1. Double row of rivets forming rectangular shape, not associated with frames or plate overlap areas.
2. The frame that bisects the rectangle is different from the surrounding frames. It doesn’t have the angle iron piece with the holes and the rivets attaching it to the plates look smaller and form a different pattern (spacing is closer).

Port (aft)

port aft

Unfortunately, this one is partially blocked by the tire being used as a fender.

port fr 24 26

Port (midship)

port midship

You can see where the hinges used to be.

port fr 60 62

Starboard (midship)

starboard midship

This is the only port I have easy access to. It measures about 37″ x 25″. The hinge length is about 15″.

starboard fr 54 56

Hard to see the rivet rectangle here. The two horizontal rows of rivets just forward of frame 56 looks like where the hinges were attached.

Starboard (fore)

starboard fore

starboard fr 96 98

Of all the interior photos, this is the best one in terms of visible detail.


While I haven’t located anything that mentions FOC’s ports, here is an interesting excerpt from a report about another Falls Line ship, the Falls of Afton (launched in 1882), which mentions the ports:

The next question to be considered is, “When did the vessel first begin to leak, and what was the cause thereof, and were prompt and proper measures taken to stop the leaks?” On referring to the log book we find that the first time the well seems to have been sounded was on the 17th of April, and we are told that there were then 4 inches of water in it; and on the 19th the same depth is recorded. Seeing, however, that, according to Messrs. Stark and Newman, the pumps sucked at 5 inches, it is clear that up to that time the vessel could hardly have been making any water, even assuming that she was quite dry when she left Port Glasgow. On the morning of the 21st, however, we find that there are 7 inches in the well, and in the evening of the same day it had increased to 12 inches. The next morning it is said that the carpenter went down the pump well to see how much water there was, and came to the conclusion that there were about 8 inches in her. On the following morning, the 23th, they sounded the well, and on finding 12 inches in her, the captain, chief officer, and carpenter went below, and according to the log book they then found “the decks leaking like a shower bath,” and the water “spurting in at a great rate” at the angle iron round the ports, more especially at the main port on the port side. The same afternoon they found 6 feet of water in the fore peak, and it was then that they stood to the eastward with the view of returning to this country; and in the evening we are told that there were 15 inches in the well. It would seem, therefore, to have been during the 22nd and 23rd, when according to the master the gale was at its height, that she began to leak, the vessel at the time making very bad weather, and shipping large quantities of water on her decks. Now that some water did come in through the cargo ports seems to be admitted, for Messrs. Stark and Newman tell us that when they surveyed the vessel at Madeira, the cargo ports were leaking, more especially the main port on the port side, where it is said that the water was coming in pretty lively; but they told us that this was due to the shrinking of the packing, and that if the ports had been screwed up and chinsed from the inside, the leaks would probably have stopped. The captain also told us that the water was pouring in at a defective rivet hole on the fore part of the main port on the port side, but this Messrs. Stark and Newman distinctly deny; they say that the water which was coming in round the port struck against one of the rivet heads, and gave the appearance of the rivet hole leaking, but that they tried all the rivets round the port, and found them all sound. As to the water found that day in the fore peak, the master and mate told us that it appeared to them to be coming in through the bow ports and on each side of the stem; but Messrs. Stark and Newman told us that they carefully examined the stem, and could find no traces of any water having come in there; and that, in their opinion, the principal part of the water which was in the fore peak, must have come in through the hawse holes and the fore scuttle under the topgallant deck. They said that they came to this conclusion from seeing the saturated condition in which the articles in the lower forecastle were, and which must have been due to water coming in from above, and not from below. They told us that some water no doubt may have come in at the bow ports, but that none came in at the sides of the stem, and that they carefully examined the vessel all over, and could discover no appearance of her having strained in any part. If then the master, instead of merely stopping up the leaks in the ports with grease and tallow, had screwed up and chinsed the ports from the inside, and if he had secured the hawse holes, and seen that the hatch was put over the fore scuttle, it is probable that he would have stopped the vessel leaking in these parts; and this the assessors tell me he ought to have done. As to the water coming in through the decks like a shower bath, we believe it to be, like the account given by the master and mate of the rigging, the nuts, and the bolts, a pure exaggeration.

Source: Wreck Report for Falls of Afton, 1882 from the PortCities Southampton website


What are referred to as the main ports in the Falls of Afton report, are most likely the ports located amidships. The fore and aft ports seem slightly smaller in size (more square as opposed to rectangular in shape). I will attempt to measure the other port on the starboard side of FOC to confirm this.

*Sealed up, probably when the ship was converted into a tanker.
**Numbered British style, aft to fore.


Falls of Halladale

Falls of Halladale.—On July 21st, Messrs. Russell & Co. launched from their Greenock shipbuilding yard a four-masted sailing ship, named the Falls of Halladale, a vessel of 2,000 tons net register, and measuring 280 ft. by 42 ft. by 24 ft. She has been built to the order of Messrs. Wright & Breakenridge. This is the seventh vessel built by Messrs. Russell & Co. for the ‘Falls’ Line of sailing ships.”

From Vol. VIII of The Marine Engineer (1 September 1886)

Falls of Garry

Falls of Garry.—On June 4th Messrs. Russell & Co. launched from their Greenock yard a four-masted iron sailing ship of 2,000 tons nett [sic] register for Messrs. Wright and Breakenridge, shipowners, Glasgow. Her dimensions are:—Length, 280 ft.; breadth, 42 ft.; and depth, 24 ft. On leaving the ways she was named the Falls of Garry. She has been built to Lloyd’s highest class, and is the sixth vessel which the Messrs. Russell have within the last few years built for the same owners.”

From Vol. VIII of The Marine Engineer (1 July 1886)

Falls of Earn

Falls of Earn.—On May 30th Messrs. Russell & Co., shipbuilders, Greenock, launched from their yard at Cartsdyke a four-masted iron sailing vessel of about 2,300 tons register for Messrs. Wright & Breakenridge, shipowners, Glasgow. Her dimensions are:—Length, 300 ft.; breadth, 42 ft.; and depth, 24 1/2 ft. On leaving the ways she was named the Falls of Earn. The new vessel has been built under special survey to class 100 A1 at Lloyd’s, will have four masts (square-rigged and double top gallant yards), and will be furnished with all modern improvements calculated best to facilitate the discharge or loading of cargoes. She is an exact duplicate of the Brownrigg, recently launched by the same firm of shipbuilders for Captain Houston, Liverpool. The Falls of Earn will be fitted out for sea at Port Glasgow.”

From Vol. V of The Marine Engineer (1 July 1884)

Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers.—On April 12th Messrs. Russell & Co. launched from their Greenock yard a four-masted iron sailing ship, which they had built to the order of Messrs. Wright & Brackenridge [sic], Glasgow. Her dimensions are:—Length 268 ft.; breadth, 41 ft.; depth of hold, 23.9 ft; and 1,900 tons register. Her dead-weight carrying capacity is about 3,500 tons. As she left the ways she was named the Falls of Foyers. She is similar in every respect to the Falls of Afton and Falls of Dee, built by the same firm, and has been classed 100 A 1 at Lloyd’s.”

From Vol. V of The Marine Engineer (1 May 1883)

Falls of Dee

Falls of Dee.—On April 20th, Messrs. Russell & Co., shipbuilders, Greenock, launched from their shipbuilding-yard a four-masted iron sailing ship of the following dimensions:—Length, 275 ft.; breadth, 41 ft.; depth, 23 ft. 9 in.; and of 1,900 tons registered. She is fitted up with all the latest improvements for facilitating the loading and discharging of cargo, and nothing has been neglected by her builders to make her complete in every respect for the East India trade. The vessel, which is owned by Messrs. Wright & Breakenridge, Glasgow, was, on leaving the ways, named the Falls of Dee, and is a sister ship to the Falls of Afton, recently launched and fitted out for sea by the same firm.”

From Vol. III of The Marine Engineer (1 May 1882)

Falls of Afton

Falls of Afton.—On February 20th, Messrs Russell & Co., Cartsdyke, Greenock, launched a four-masted iron sailing ship, of 1,900 tons, which has been built to the order of Messrs. Breckinridge [sic] & Co., of Glasgow, and is to be employed in the East India Trade. The dimensions of the new vessel are:—Length, 268 ft.; breadth, 41 ft.; and depth, 23 ft. 9 in. On leaving the ways the vessel was named the Falls of Afton.”

From Vol. III of The Marine Engineer (April 1881 to March 1882)