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Monday, 31 December 2012

EIGAMOIYA - Yard No 504 Update

There is now a correction on the pages about the MV EIGAMOIYA from someone who was activley involved in the dealings with the Nauru people and Government at the time. And in the interests of historical accuracy we are always happy to hear from people with first hand knowledge of events and only to willing to change things should they be found to be not quite accurate.


We also have an update about the MV AGUARAY from our contacts in South America
She was built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb in 1928 as Ship No 112 and information shows that she was still around in 1986 although it is not known what happened to her after this time.


HMS CARDIGAN BAY seen in this postcard sent in by the Daughter of Stoker "Jack Parle"
Who served on her for three and a half years, she was of course built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb during the dark days of World War Two as Ship No 348 being the first of Three Bay Class Frigates built and launched from the yard. More about HMS CARDIGAN BAY here.
 The Royal Navy and the Palestine Patrol
May we also take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very good New Year for 2013

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Ship Photo's

We have been busy updating the ships photo pages and there are now many more great photographs of ships old and some right up to date.
So if you are interested or if you have some ships photograph's that you may want to have shown on the Leith Shipyards website then just make contact through the website and we shall feature them on the ever growing ships photo library.

Photographs such as this one of the classic old ZEALANDIA from the Late Don Ross Collection.
For all your maritime book requirements visit the new Ships and the Sea library

Sunday, 25 November 2012

BAE Systems boss says shipyard may close

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One of BAE Systems' major shipyards could be closed, the company's UK chief executive Nigel Whitehead has said.

He told the Sunday Telegraph a decision would be made by the end of the year.

The firm was working with ministers to explore all options for maintaining the UK's shipbuilding capability, he said.

The future of its three main shipyards - in Portsmouth, and Govan and Scotstoun on the River Clyde - after two new aircraft carriers are completed has been in doubt for some time.

There are fears there will be insufficient work available to keep all three busy and profitable as cuts in defence spending take their toll.

"The issue is how to consolidate... but make sure that we've preserved the capability to design and manufacture complex warships," Mr Whitehead told the newspaper.

"We anticipate that there will be a reduction in footprint and we anticipate... that part of that might actually be the cessation of manufacturing at one of the sites."

Earlier this year the company appointed consultants to carry out a review of the business. The firm's yard in Portsmouth is widely believed to be the most vulnerable, with 1,500 jobs at risk.

However, two bases on the River Clyde, at Govan and Scotstoun (The old Yarrow shipyard) are also under scrutiny.

BAE Systems says it is working closely with the government to explore all options for maintaining the UK's shipbuilding capability.

The Ministry of Defence says that it is up to the company itself to decide how best to deliver the naval vessels

For more on the story see BBC Scotland website

The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding
This is the story of how, from modest beginnings, Britain rose throughout the 19th century to become the greatest shipbuilding nation in the world. It begins with the age of sail, then moves on to the days of iron-hulled steamers. It shows how conflicts arose between the traditional shipwrights and the new men who came from the metal industries, leading to the infamous demarcation disputes. It is also the story of men like Brunel and Armstrong, geniuses who were always looking for change and development. It is also the story of decline in the 20th century, when yards were no longer as innovative as their foreign competitors and the British merchant fleet shrank from being the biggest in the world at the start of the century to ranking number 38 at the end of it. It is a story of great achievements and tragic collapse.

While the above news is not new to the shipbuilders involved what is pretty new is being regarded as “A Footprint” you just have to love the buzzwords being used today, the British Isle’s losing yet another hard pressed shipyard, is it any wonder that the last two ships ordered by the U.K. Government went to a yard in Korea, this was for the build of two new fleet oil tankers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary a job that was only tendered by one of the remaining shipyards in Britain and even they dropped out of the running as they felt they did not have the required expertise anymore to build such a vessel,

along with another less well publicised ship to be built that being a research ship for work in the Antarctic by the National Environmental Research Centre.

All in all a pretty damming indictment on a country that just gives up on it’s skills base because the bean counters run it all now.

This ship is being built in Northern Spain and is due to be launched next autumn.

A ship to do the same work as the RSS BRANSFIELD which was built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb in 1970

Nothing against the shipbuilders of Northern Spain they have been building ships for many years but why is this work not being done in a British yard and helping to secure the future of the skills required to build ships of this type, a question that has been asked of successive governments since the demise of the fiasco which was British Shipbuilders in the 1980’s.

A picture above of the RSS BRANSFIELD at work in Antarctica (Photo by G.Hart)
doing the type of work that the new ship will also be doing the one that is just now being built in Northern Spain.

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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lest we forget!

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Restoration of the SS EXPLORER continues

The SS EXPLORER at her berth at Leith Docks
(Photo by permission of the SS EXPLORER Society)

It is on a more positive note than the previous entry to report that work continues on the old steam vessel SS EXPLORER with the work being carried out by volunteers in the docks at Leith in Scotland.

Amazing & Extraordinary Facts Steam Age

Simon the chairman of the SS EXPLORER preservation Society get his award presented by Her Royal Highness the Princes Anne

Historic Leith ship wins prestigious award
Aboard HM Belfast, Greenwich in October, presented by HRH Princess Anne:
The SS Explorer Preservation Society is proud to announce that our Chairman
Simon Sawers has been awarded a Marsh Volunteer Award for Historic Vessel
SS Explorer is an historically important Leith registered fisheries research
vessel currently moored in the Edinburgh Dock, Leith. Built in Aberdeen in
1955 and included on the National Register of Historic Ships, SS Explorer is
the last steam powered ship of her kind in Britian and, like the RSS
Discovery before her, was built solely for the purpose of scientific
The SS Explorer Preservation Society is a small volunteer society concerned
with the restoration and preservation of this unique vessel.
Simon Sawers, 25, has been a volunteer aboard the SS Explorer for more than
half his life! Over the last two years Simon has taken on the role of
Society Chairman and through hard work and determination he has revitalised
the Preservation Society, grown its volunteer base and actively led the work
required to save this historic ship for the nation. Simon says:
“I am delighted to have been nominated but this award reflects on all the
crew and volunteers aboard the Explorer and encourages us all to continue
with such a worthwhile and unique project. I first became involved with the
Explorer in 1999 aged 12, when I was given a tour of the ship with the local
Sea Cadets, where I was a member. I returned to the ship the following
weekend, and have been actively involved in restoration since. I am still
the youngest volunteer aboard the ship though we do have a lower average
volunteer age compared to other historic ships. Explorer offers a wealth of
opportunities for the local and national communities which we are keen to
Further information:
If you would like to arrange an interview, or obtain further information or
photographs please contact:
Pete McDougall, SS Explorer Community Engagement Officer
Tel: 0131 538 1512
SS Explorer Preservation Society

They tell me that the ship could do with being moved to a better berth in the port but it would seem that Forth Ports who run the ancient old port of Leith nowadays are dragging there heels over this, so come on Forth Ports get your finger out and help these guys all that you can, they have even been recognised by the Historic ship society and a presentation was given to one of them by Royalty not long ago in recognition of around 15 years of working and caring for this fine old ship and giving up his spare time for the cause.

Book with confidence thanks to the Best Price Guarantee from
If you happen to be around the area and want to get involved then just get yourself along to the docks at Leith and ask around.

You can also help from afar by joining as a member on the website here.

A lot of work needs done on the old ship to bring her back to pristine condition so join up to help.

Replica of HMS BOUNTY sinks

The replica HMS BOUNTY in happier times at the Tall Ships in Halifax 2012
(Photo from the Loftsman Collection)
The sad loss of the replica HMS BOUNTY and two of her crew including her Captain
(Photo credit unknown but probably by the U.S.Coastgaurd)

It was sad to see the loss of a fine old replica ship the past week and even sadder to see that two life’s were lost along with the old vessel going down in the surrounds of the huge storm that hit the Eastern Seaboard of The United States given the name Sandy.

This replica which was built for the movie that had Marlon Brando in it called “Mutiny on the Bounty” was built in Nova Scotia around 50 years ago.

The Way of a Ship The Way of a Ship
From the author of Godforsaken Sea -- a #1 bestseller in Canada and one of the best books ever written about sailing ( Time magazine) -- comes a magnificent re-creation of a square-rigger voyage round Cape Horn at the end of the 19th century. In The Way of a Ship , Derek Lundy places his seafaring great-great uncle, Benjamin Lundy, on board the Beara Head and brings to life the ship's community as it performs the exhausting and dangerous work of sailing a square-rigger across the sea. The beautiful, widow-making, deep-sea sailing ships could sail fast in almost all weather and carry substantial cargo. Handling square-riggers demanded detailed and specialized skills, and life at sea, although romanticized by sea-voyage chroniclers, was often brutal. Seamen were sleep deprived and malnourished, at times half-starved, and scurvy was still a possibility. Derek Lundy reminds readers what Melville and Conrad expressed so well: that the sea voyage is an overarching metaphor for life itself. As Benjamin Lundy nears the Horn and its attendant terrors, the traditional qualities of the sailor -- fatalism, stoicism, courage, obedience to a strict hierarchy, even sentimentality -- are revealed in their dying days, as sail gave way to steam. Derek Lundy tells his gripping tale with the kind of storytelling skill and writerly breadth that is usually the ken of our finest novelists, and in so doing, imagines a harrowing and wholly credible history for his seafaring Irish-Canadian ancestor. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

From Sail to Steel.

Built at the Leith Shipyards of Ramage & Ferguson 1931

The finished entity that was the Henry Robb Shipyard, was an accumulation of no less than four previous shipyards that had slipways on the small patch of ground that was to eventually become the Henry Robb Shipbuilders & Engineers  “Victoria Shipyards” at Leith.

The Leith Shipyards website will try and collate the full list of all the ships built in the yards to become the central point of reference for more than 1,000 ships of all kinds built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb, Ramage & Ferguson, Cran & Somerville and Hawthorns & Co.

There is nowhere on the internet that provides all this kind of information all in one readable website with stories of the ships and of the men and women who sailed or served on them.

We require our readers help with this huge project and any information on any of the ships along with any photographs would be most appreciated.

This is a story that goes back in time to the famous shipwright Thomas Morton who invented the patent slip a means where vessels could be brought from the sea to dry land and worked on thus making it less costly to work on than dry docking the vessel.

Thomas Morton & Co arrive in the Leith Shipyards story by way of the fact that they had been taken over by the shipbuilding firm of Hawthorns & Co in 1912, Hawthorns themselves would be taken over by Henry Robb Shipyards in 1924 this gave Robb access to building berths and meant that they could build further ships and launch them directly into the sea.

Boatbuilding Manual, Fifth Edition Boatbuilding Manual, Fifth Edition
Get the latest boatbuilding tips from this updated classic Since its first publication in 1970, Boatbuilding Manual has become the standard reference in boatbuilding and boat design schools, in the offices of professional builders, and in the basement workshops of home builders. No other boatbuilding text has simultaneously served the disparate needs of professional and amateur audiences so successfully. Carl Cramer, the publisher of WoodenBoat and Professional Boatbuilder magazines, has fully updated this fifth edition with the latest in boatbuilding techniques and developments. Includes: The latest wood-epoxy construction methods that make amateur building more successful than ever before Recommendations on products and materials, saving you time and money substantial time and expense Topics include: Plans, Tools, Woods, Fiberglass and Other Hull Materials, Fastenings, Lines and Laying Down, Molds, Templates, and the Backbone, Setting Up, Framing, Planking, Deck Framing, Decking, Deck Joinerwork, Interior Joinerwork, Finishing, Sailboat Miscellany, Steering, Tanks, Plumbing, etc, Mechanical and Electrical, Potpourri, Safety

Ship Construction Ship Construction
Ship Construction, Seventh Edition, offers guidance for ship design and shipbuilding from start to finish. It provides an overview of current shipyard techniques, safety in shipyard practice, materials and strengths, welding and cutting, and ship structure, along with computer-aided design and manufacture, international regulations for ship types, new materials, and fabrication technologies. Comprised of seven sections divided into 32 chapters, the book introduces the reader to shipbuilding, including the basic design of a ship, ship dimensions and category, and development of ship types. It then turns to a discussion of rules and regulations governing ship strength and structural integrity, testing of materials used in ship construction, and welding practices and weld testing. Developments in the layout of a shipyard are also considered, along with development of the initial structural and arrangement design into information usable by production; the processes involved in the preparation and machining of a plate or section; and how a ship structure is assembled. A number of websites containing further information, drawings, and photographs, as well as regulations that apply to ships and their construction, are listed at the end of most chapters. This text is an invaluable resource for students of marine sciences and technology, practicing marine engineers and naval architects, and professionals from other disciplines ranging from law to insurance, accounting, and logistics. Covers the complete ship construction process including the development of ship types, materials and strengths, welding and cutting and ship structure, with numerous clear line diagrams included for ease of understanding Includes the latest developments in technology and shipyard methods, including a new chapter on computer-aided design and manufacture Essential for students and professionals, particularly those working in shipyards, supervising ship construction, conversion and maintenance

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Deck Boy on the MV KAWATIRI

MV KAWATIRI Ship No 399 (Photo credit unknown)

We have a story sent in to the website from Gary King about his time as a Deck Boy on the USSCo vessel KAWATIRI Ship No 399

Along with some photographs as well

You can read more of this story on the ship pages of the KAWATIRI on the website

ARCADIAN Ship No 473- A Whale of a Tale


A truly amazing story has come to light regarding a voyage by the ARCADIAN in June 1965 across the stormy North Atlantic from Canada to the U.K.

She had a very valuable deck cargo in the form of four live very rare Beluga Whales that had been caught by fishermen in the St Lawrence and were wanted by Cleethorpes Zoo in England.

There was a sad end to this voyage as only one of the precious cargo survived.

The female Beluga that survived was soon to die in captivity a couple of months later at  the Marine Land Zoo in England.
Now a request for help has came into the Leithshipyards website from the Aquarium of Quebec in Canada looking for information on this voyage.

For more of the story see the ship page of ARCADIAN on the website and if any one can help with any details of this voyage then please contact the website. 

A Beluga Whale of the type that they tried to ship on the MV ARCADIAN in 1965
The rare whale is on the endangered species list.
We shall soon have some new information about this amazing voyage coming soon to the website and also new is that we have decided to start to do some advertising as a means of helping to offset some of the cost of running and operating the website at

Tramp Ships

Saturday, 29 September 2012

SOUTH STEYNE on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels

An indication of the historical importance that Australians place on the SOUTHSTEYNE is shown by the fact that she is now on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels and this should also means that she will be kept up to a good standard of condition and maintenance which should mean that this fine old ship will be around for a lot longer yet.

SS SOUTH STEYNE at her berth in Sydney Australia

The photograph above is from the curator of the Historical Ships Register in Australia, a country that values it’s maritime heritage as the only means of getting there prior to around 50 years ago was by ship of course.


For more information visit the Australian Register of Historic Vessels

and the new E-Book library at Ships and the Sea


Saturday, 22 September 2012


Pleased to say that the present curator of the Australian National Maritime Museum Dr Stephen Gapps, has taken an interest with what’s happening on the Leith Shipyards website and has also taken the time to send us in some up to date photographs of this famous Australian “Icon” at her berth in  Sydney Harbour.

THE STEAM SHIP SOUTH STEYNE photographed by Dr, Stephen Gapps the Curator of the Australian National Maritime Museum

SOUTH STEYNE is in excellent condition, and is a prominent attraction in Cockle Bay beside the Pyrmont Bridge where it remains open as a floating restaurant, some may remiss about the fact that this grand old example of the finest in shipbuilding is now being used as a restaurant and convention centre but if this is what it takes to keep her afloat and in pristine condition then long may it last. If the ship lends itself to this type of use and it is done with some taste then why not, we don’t hear anyone complain about the use of the RMS QUEEN MARY at Long Beach in California and she would otherwise have just been scrapped.

The Ship still has most of her original machinery and engines in place and indeed the fact that she is a static display does not mean that she would not be able to put to sea again.

For more on the SS SOUTH STEYNE visit the Australian National Maritime Museum website.

 The Making of Australia

Sunday, 9 September 2012

New Zealand Cement Carriers-update

GOLDEN BAY departing Wellington, New Zealand
(Photograph is courtesy of the Fletcher challenge Trust Archive)

The Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb were to build a total of three Cement Carriers for work in New Zealand and these highly specialised ships were a common sight around the caost of New Zealand for many years.

A fourth ship was also built for New Zealand although this ship was built at the Dundee yard of what was then know as Robb Caledon following the takeover of the old Dundee yard by Henry Robb shipbuilders in 1968

All were to work for the Golden Bay cement company which was eventually taken over by Fletcher Challenge

One of the ships engineers Tony Skilton who sailed on all four of the vessels has been helping the archivists at Fletcher Challenge Trust to identify some of the many photographs which have been uncovered and with the kind help of Dorothy there at the trust they have found many old photographs of the three vessels built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb

The original GOLDEN BAY Ship No 430 built and launched in 1953

The JOHN WILSON Ship No 478 built and launched in 1961 and

The Diesel Electric Vessel LIGAR BAY Ship No 488 built and launched in 1964

The Leith Shipyards website is pleased to be able to show the new photographs found and would like to thank Engineer Tony Skilton and the staff at the Fletcher Challenge Trust Archives (in particular Dorothy) for there time and help and of course for the permission to show them on the Leith Shipyards website.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rescue from the Sea

Rescue of the crew of the MV INSISTANCE in 1993 (Reg M Collection)

Just as a wee reminder as if any was needed that a life at sea has it's own inbuilt perils in the form of Mother Nature and it is testiment to the bravery of the men who go down to the sea to rescue such unfortunate ships which may happen to run aground around the goast of the British Isles even more in the news right now as the incumbent british Government is trying to run down the amount of cover in place around the coast citing cost as a viable reason to put life in danger.

The Motor Vessel INSISTANCE was built in 1975 at 475 grt she was owned by Crescent shipping of Rochester Kent, England
She sailed from the Tyne on Wednesday 15th Septewmber 1993 bound for Rotterdam, in ballast and with a heavy sea running with storm force winds she turned South and suffered an engine breakdown.
The small coaster was driven ashore on the Herd Sands at South Sheilds and the three man crew was rescued by a Sea King helicoptor of the Royal Air Force rescue on the 16th September 1993.
The vessel was refloated on Friday 17th September at 1700 hours with the assistance of the Tyne tug "Flying Spindrift" which floated a polyprop tow line to the vessel and with the aid of the incoming tide.
On refloating the ship was taken into the Tyne for survey at Tyne Dock Engineering Ltd



BALDER LEITH Ship No 532 is Launched at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon 1983

We now have some more photographs of the oil supply ship BALDER LEITH Ship No 532 built and launched from the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon (Henry Robbs) in 1983, the photographs are part of a collection from ex shipwright Barry Booth and now on the Leith Shipyards website.
We are also delighted to be selected to show another fine collection of photographs on the website from another ex shipyard worker this time from the shipbuilding powerhouse that was Englands North East Reg Mordecai has entrusted the Leith Shipyards website to feature his fine collection of Sunderland built ships (1963-1989) from the shipyards of Austin and Pickersgills, Doxford, Shorts, Sir James Laing, Joseph L Thompson and Bartram and Sons.
A ship on the stocks at Sunderland from the Reg M Collection

Sunday, 19 August 2012

MV KOONYA update

The MV KOONYA on route in the Bass Strait on the way to Burnie in this photograph sent in by Mike Gostt and shown her by permission.

We have some fine photographs of another Union Steam Ship Co of New Zealand ship built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb as Ship No 461 She was a sister ship to the MV KUMALLA Ship No 456

Saturday, 18 August 2012

MV POOLTA maiden voyage out to Australia

A great tale told by a guy who sailed as “Peggy” on the maiden voyage of MV POOLTA Ship No 465 out to Australia on a ship which turned out to be the last ship built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb for one of the yards best customers the Union Steam Ship Co of New Zealand.

Over the Mountains of the Sea Over the Mountains of the Sea
Over the Mountains of the Sea is a lively, well-illustrated and very readable book that draws on shipboard diaries and archival sources to give a vivid picture of the voyage out to New Zealand during the crucial Vogel period. Using information on individual ships, voyages and passengers, author David Hastings follows the narrative of the voyage and the way in which the space on the ship was allotted according to gender, class and marital status. He then explores the social dynamics on board dealing with the routines of daily life, crime, mutiny, health, religion and an interesting chapter on the virgins' cage' where the single women were confined. He convincingly shows the ship as a microcosm of the society British migrants brought to these islands. Over the Mountains of the Sea is generously illustrated with photographs, sketches and magazine illustrations. It will be warmly welcomed by genealogists, professional historians and the many New Zealanders who enjoy reading about our history.

It’s a great story of how he survived as a young teenager the mad lunges of a drunken ship’s cook who was intent on carving out his liver at the time with a sharp blade.

So if you want to know what or who was a “Peggy” on the ship then read the story on the site as told by Rodney Giddens who also contributed a great photograph of MV POOLTA arriving in Sydney Harbour all flags while sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Henry Robb Shipyard photographs

A photograph of the TRINITY HOUSE Flagship PATRICIA fitting out at Henry Robb Shipyard, taken from the dockside crane by Barry Booth Shipwright

 We are indebted to the ex Henry Robb shipwright Barry Booth for allowing us to show a great collection of photographs taken at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb while working there first as an apprentice shipwright then journeyman.

The photographs will start to appear on the website over the next few weeks so keep checking back to see what’s on the site.

There are many more photographs of various ships old and new in the ship photo library on the website which continues to grow thanks to the many contributors who are now sending in some great photographs of ships to be shown.

This is the part of the website which can only grow and get better with your help so we stress again if you have any ship photographs which you would like to share with the world then please contact the website and they will be shown on the ship photograph pages.

To the many who have contributed up to now we say thanks for your time and interest, and the website continues to receive more and more visitors with according to Google more than 60,000 visits and not yet 2 years old.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

M/V UNDERWOOD Ship No 291 New Book on her Sinking

There is now a new book that has been written by Dave Betts about the sinking of the M/V UNDERWOOD she was attacked by German E-Boats in a daring attack which had Further tragic consequences in the build up to D-Day when American troops exercising of the South West Coast of England suffered some tragic losses which were attributed to the threat of E-Boat attacks by the fast and deadly boats.

15 crew and 3 passengers were lost in the attack on the M/V UNDERWOOD which had been built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb for the shipping company of France Fenwick, she was in fact still on the stocks at the outbreak of World War II on 3rd September 1939 and her build was completed during the early days of the war.

The author's Grand Father was a (DEMS) gunner on board her and the book can be found at   let him know that you heard about the book here at    And if anyone out there can help with some photographs of this old ship then please get in touch with the website.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Update on PORT TUDY

We have some news on the website about the small tanker PORT TUDY Ship No 506 and she could still be around having last been seen in the waters of Nigeria.
Now under the name of OCEAN CHALLENGER "Has anyone seen this ship recently"

We hope that someone out there will be able to shed some light on what has become of this old Leith Shipyards built ship, she was the first ship to be built at Henry Robb shipyards using the what was then the new European Metric System.

Update on the Ferry MV PIONEER


MV POINEER as Brenda Corlett seen here in W.Africa in a photograph by Ian Fraser

Pleased to be able to tell you that we now have some fine photographs of the MV PIONEER ship No 515 which is now still working away off the coast of West Africa.

Thanks to Ian Fraser who while delivering another ship down that way was invited onto the PIONEER now called the Brenda Corlett and he has sent us in many exclusive photographs of her.

Offshore Ferry Services of England and Scotland The ship photo library continues to grow thanks to a few more contributors and we would like to invite all to send in there photographs of ships of all kinds for show on the ship photo’s page of the website.

Good to see that some things on the ex MV PIONEER still remain and this shows one of her old destination boards still with her in the waters of W.Africa, seen in this photograph taken by Ian Fraser
and sent into the Leithshipyards website.

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