Smooth Sailing at Probus Club


At last month’s evening meeting of the Probus Club of Basingstoke their guest speaker was Commodore Ian Gibb MBE whose talk was entitled “From Cadet to Commodore and Beyond”

Having spent 43 years at sea with the P&O group, and retiring in 1996, Commodore Gibb covered some of the interesting aspects of his career. He told the audience of retired professional and business men that having graduated from the School of Navigation in Southampton he entered the merchant marine as a cadet officer. Initially he was on cargo vessels but through a stroke of good fortune moved into the passenger ships side of P&O just as the market for passenger liners was changing.

The days of carrying mail and emigrants to Australia came to a close but with an eye on changing market conditions P&O recognised that there was growth potential in the holiday cruise market. A different style of vessel was needed so new ships were built. This expansion gave opportunities for advancement and Commodore Gibb became the captain of several well known cruise liners in the company’s fleet. The last one he captained was the Oriana which he had been closely involved in its build having been seconded to the ship yard during construction.

There were amusing anecdotes about life with cruise passengers, with most eating and drinking too much while on board. There was even an amusing side to death at sea when a deceased passenger was given a burial at sea and things went slightly awry. Fortunately the grieving widow was none the wiser.

The following 15 years were spent with the charity Trinity House, which is the organisation responsible for the buoys and light houses around the coast of England and Wales. He graduated to the position of being one of 32 elder brethren, some being members of the royal family, and sitting in its court of judgement to establish blame for maritime collisions.

The Probus Club of Basingstoke has an interesting programme of speakers and events and prospective members can gain more information about the scheduled activities by looking at their web site or having a chat with their secretary Bryan Harvey on 01256 321473.