We all have memories of our time with the company. and we are very grateful to those who have given PONLHeritage permission to share their recollections below.  

If you have any stories that you would like to share here then please send an email to

Captain Ken Owen

Captain Ken Owen had a long career at sea which included sailing as master with Overseas Containers Limited (OCL), P&O Containers and P&O Nedlloyd.   Ken is now retired and in 2020 he started writing a monthly article for publication under using the pen name 'Captain Ken' in the Mellor Church Outlook magazine.   A number of articles that Ken has written are about his time with the company and he has very kindly agreed that we can share them here (please click on the down arrow to the right for a list of articles or go to Captain Ken).

Captain Ken #1 - Liverpool Bay rescue - The story of how, in 1983,  the Liverpool Bay picked up 40 refugees off the coast of south east Asia.

Captain Ken #2 - Main Express (Strathconon) marine observation - The spotting of a massive shoal of Velella, more commonly known as 'Portugese Men-of War' or jelly fish.

Captain Ken #3 - Peninsular Bay rescue - Ken's account of the rescue of the crew of another ship in the China Sea in 1990.

Captain Ken #4 - Suez Canal blockage - The Ever Given incident in 2021 and then the Cardigan Bay in 1978.

Captain Ken #5 - Strathconon yacht race rescue - Yachtsman Eric Tabarly rescued in the North Atlantic.

Captain Ken #6 - Fire on board - The story of a series of fire incidents on a ship departing from Hamburg

Captain Ken #7 - The Ship's Cat - Ken's recollections on what was once an essential member of the ship's complement.

Captain Ken #8 - Buckingham Palace - The usefulness of a Merchnat Navy uniform when attending a Buckingham Palace Garden Party... 

Captain Ken #9 - The China Boats - Mao Tse-tung's Little Red Book presentation to ships' crews and recollections of ship visits in the late 1980s/early 90s. 

Captain Ken #10 - Container Fire - Fire in a shipping container stowed on deck.

Captain Ken #11 - China Memories; Shanghai and a rescue - Memories of port calls in Shanghai in the 1950s/60s, and a refugee rescue on the Peninsular Bay in the 90s.

Captain Ken #12 - Visits to the USA and Christmas - Restrictions in US ports and a Christmas shopping trip

Captain Ken #13 - Blue Funnel Tales - The naming of Blue Funnel vessels and tall tales...

Captain Ken #14 - Fire on board in Liverpool dock - Major ship fire on board the Pyrrhus in 1964

Captain Ken #15 - Signing up for a Life at Sea - The first steps towards a life at sea.

Captain Ken #16 - A day in a US Court - Appearing as a witness in a New York court following an incident on a ship.

Captain Ken #17 - Adventures in Borneo - Languages, sharks and a hostile encounter.

Captain Ken #18 - Lloyds List award - Ken Owen recieves Shipmaster of the Year award.

Captain Ken #19 - Communication at sea - The problems of communication in the days of signal flags.

Captain Ken #20 - Two very different surprises! - A visit to St James Palace and running out of water on a Blue Funnel voyage

Captain Ken #21 - Measuring the Depths - Manual techniques to find the depth of water before echo sounders.

John Selsig

Rotterdam terminal in the 1970s - Coal, grain, beetles and a port strike - John's recollections of working in the Rotterdam terminal during the early days of containerisation. 

Other recollections...

A radio officer's life in pictures - A brief introduction then a link to the external website set up by former radio officer (2OR) John McKay which contains a number of photos from his time at sea. 

Cabers to Australia - The story of a shipment of cabers for Highland Games competitions way back in 1971 .

"This container saved our lives..." - The story of a couple with a farm in Texas who were protected from the effects of a tornado by an old P&O Nedlloyd shipping container.

"Fly a little, swim a little and boat a little" - The story of the rescue of an Australian pilot who was forced to ditch mid-Pacific when the engine failed on his Cessna 182.  The P&O Nedlloyd Los Angeles was in the right place at the right time to come to his aid.