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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