Seafaring career papers and letters of James H. Fitt, Shell Tankers



James Hamilton Fitt (Jim) was born in 1945 in Edgware Middlesex. In 1960 Jim graduated from the Gravesend Sea School, a National Sea Training College located in North Kent College UK where he trained as a deck apprentice for the British Merchant Navy. Jim received his first appointment aboard the SS Otina as a deck apprentice at age 18 with Shell Tankers Ltd. The letters and diaries included in these papers, detail Jim’s experience as a deck apprentice for Shell Tankers Ltd. over a 17 month period between March 1962 to July 1963. The papers consist of three series of records: professional papers relating to Jim Fitt’s 17 month deck apprentice at sea assignment with Shell Tankers Ltd.; personal correspondence; and photographs. Professional papers include Jim’s apprentice’s indenture certificate, British Seaman’s identification (including 2 passport photographs), and other memorabilia. An envelope of articles written by Jim in ca. 2008-2016 relate stories of Shell H-series, oil tankers and Fitt’s diary of experiences at sea. The personal correspondence series is further divided by sub-series: one series of letters written by Jim to his parents ‘folks’ and a second comprehensive series of corresponding replies from Fred (Dad) and E. Fitt ‘Mum’. The letters arrived in tight bundles arranged chronologically by ship voyage. The names of the ship vessels Jim sailed on were the SS Otina, SS Hemiplecta, S.S. Vitnina, and SS Maria Fassio. Jim sailed between March 1962 to July 1963. The third series of photographs is divided into four sub-series: portrait photographs of Jim in uniform; Shell Tanker Ltd. ship photographs; a miscellaneous sub-series of 22, 4x6 photographs taken by Jim during voyages; and a fourth series of labelled, 8x8 copy prints forwarded to Jim by Colin Thomas, a fellow deck apprentice who served with Jim aboard the SS Hemiplecta in 1963. Beside Colin Thomas’s images, the photographs for the most part, remain unlabelled. Some postcard prints provide details of location and date. Most letters received by Jim from his parents have had the stamps removed. See attached catalogue for further details.