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Friday, 31 January 2014

The KOBENHAVN Builders Plate

Representation of a builders plate from the Barque KOBENHAVN built at the Leith Shipyards of Ramage & Ferguson Ltd, 1921

This picture of what may or not have been a builders plate from the unfortunate ship KOBENHAVN Yard No 256 built at the Ramage & Ferguson shipyards at Leith in 1921, when she was lost in the Winter of 1928 has now been assessed by experts in Denmark and in Glasgow and the consensus of opinion is that this particular builders plate is not from the poor ship, although it may have been made as a commemoration of the mysterious loss of the KOBENHAVN with all her 15 crew and 45 cadets.

Sea Routes to the Gold Fields Sea Routes to the Gold Fields
Sea Routes to the Gold Fields tells the story of one of the most exciting mass movements in history: the migration by sea of the tens of thousands who joined the headlong race to California's newly discovered gold fields. This work fills an important gap in the literature of the Gold Rush, for while numerous books have been written about those who traveled overland to California, this is the first to give a comprehensive picture of the other half of the migration, of those Argonauts who made the journey in the slow, tiny, and incredibly crowded sailing ships and steamers of a century ago. It presents a colorful, varied, and extremely interesting picture of life on the gold ships during the months-long voyages, of the emigrants' accommodations, food, and recreations, of their intermediate stops en route, and of what befell those who made the isthmian crossings at Panama or Nicaragua. Based mainly on the diaries and letters of pioneers who made the journey between 1849 and 1852, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields is a fascinating record of one of the most dramatic episodes in the nation's history.

So one of the great maritime mystery stories continues and perhaps one day we shall find out what happened to this 5 masted Barque 3,901 grt, which was the largest sailing ship ever built in a British shipyard.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ocean going Salvage Tugs

In the quest to bring more photographs and information to the maritime interested public about the ships built at the Leith Shipyards we now have the following photographs on the website along with many more shown and still to be shown.

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“Knowledge not passed on is lost”

The dangers of Ocean Going Salvage and the power required to tow Super Tankers is amply shown here in the following two photographs sent into the Leith Shipyards website by Bob Terry one of the crew on the mighty Ocean going tug Wolraad Woltemade Ship No 516
A tow on this ship that is on fire shows some of the danger involved in Ocean Going Salvage work, nothing that the Wolraad Woltemade could not handle from this photograph taken by Bob Terry in 1982 and shown by permission

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The mighty Ocean Going Salvage Tug Wolraad Woltemade Ship No 516 arriving at Cape Town towing a "Super Tanker" in 1982 photo by Bob Terry and shown by permission

Super Tanker tow into Cape Town in 1982 the Woltemade was well capable of handling such a tow by herself

Under the Red Sea Sun Under the Red Sea Sun
To recover North Africa from the Nazis, the Allies had to undertake the largest salvage operation the world had ever seen By 1942, Mussolini's forces were on the run in East Africa. In order to slow the Allied advance, the Italians used audacious tactics. One included making ports inoperable, leaving the Allies without the infrastructure necessary to continue the war effort. At Massawa, Eritrea, the fleeing Italians left the largest mass wreck in the world, turning a vital port into a tangle of shattered ships, cranes, and sunken dry docks. In order to continue the war effort and push back the Axis powers in Africa, the Allies enlisted famed naval salvage expert Commander Edward Ellsberg. Ellsberg, a veteran miracle worker in raising sunken ships, was given his toughest assignment yet: He had to get the port open again with no budget, no men, and no tools. The British had claimed the task was impossibleMassawa couldn't be cleared. Under the Red Sea Sun is Ellsberg's account of his work in the searing heat of Eritrea. Ellsberg navigates complicated American and British bureaucracies to build a ragtag group of international civilians and accomplish what was called the Miracle of Massawa.

Classic Shipyard Photographs from 1937 to 1939/40

This un-named ship as yet under construction at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb in 1937 amazing to think that some 40 years later we would be climbing up the self same staging upright in roughly the same conditions.

We are pleased to announce that the website is now in possession of some fine original old photographs of the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd, covering a period from 1937 to the beginning of the Second World War in 1939.

Some of the fine ships shown include the MV SPINEL, MV CUBAHAMA, the classic and famous SS South Steyne ferry and the very first ship order for Henry Robb from the Union Steamship Co of New Zealand (USSCo, Ltd) a company which went on to order more than 20 ships from the Leith yard.

This was a continuation of a long line of ships built for the New Zealand Company beginning with orders secured by the Ramage & Ferguson yard in the previous century.

Along with some firsts for the Royal Navy including the Dog Class ships, HMS MASTIFF and Ships No 299 and No 300 HMS HAZEL - HMS HICKORY, the first of a long line of warships built during World War Two along with many more from this busy period at the shipyard, some will be shown on the website and some will go into the forthcoming books about the ships built at the Leith Shipyards.

The photographs will now be able to be seen rather than hidden away as many of them are along with much of the information both by individuals and archives. They will be there now for all to see in time as they should along with many more.
Tramp Ships Tramp Ships
The tramp ship was the taxi of the seas. With no regular schedules, it voyaged anywhere and everywhere, picking up and dropping off cargoes, mainly bulk cargoes such as coal, grain, timber, china clay and oil. It was the older and slower vessels that tended to find their way into this trade, hence the tag 'tramp', though new tramps were built, often with the owner's eye on chartering to the liner companies. In this new book by the well-known author Roy Fenton, their evolution is described over the course of more than 100 years, from the 1860s, when the steam tramp developed from the screw collier, until it was largely replaced by the specialist bulk carrier in the 1980s. An introduction looks at the design and building of tramps before going on to describe the machinery, from simple triple-expansion turbines to diesel engines. Their operation and management and the life of the officers and crews is also covered. The meat of the book is to be found in the 300 wonderfully evocative photographs of individual ships which illustrate the development of the tramp and its trades through the last years of the 19th century, the two world wars, and the postwar years. Each caption gives the dimensions, the owners and the builder, and outlines the career, with notes on trades and how they changed over a ship's lifetime. Design features are highlighted and notes on machinery included. This will become a classic work, to inspire all merchant ship enthusiasts and historians.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

HMS HERALD - New Photographs

The Blog and website are now fortunate enough to have been gifted many photographs of the survey ship HMS HERALD Ship No 512
The photographs have been sent in by W. Russell who was a member of the ships company from the time the Royal Navy arrived at Leith to do there work on the new ship as she was being built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb from 1972/1973

HMS HERALD outfitting at the basin in Leith winter of 1973
photograph by W. Russell and shown here by permission
Over time many more photographs will show on the website

Royal Navy, The Royal Navy, The
Since 1900, the Royal Navy has seen vast operational changes. This book tells the story, not just of victory and defeat, but also of how the Navy has adjusted to a century of rapid technological and social change. The extensive reforms made by Admiral Fisher at the dawn of the twentieth century saw the navy's nineteenth-century wooden fleet replaced with the latest modern technology - battleships (including the iconic dreadnoughts), aircraft carriers and submarines. In World War I and World War II, the navy played a central role, with unrestricted submarine warfare and supply blockades becoming an integral part of combat. However it was the development of nuclear and missile technology during the Cold War era which drastically changed the face of naval warfare - today the navy can launch sea-based strikes across thousands of miles to reach targets deep inland. This book places the wars and battles fought by the navy - from Jutland to the Falklands - within a wider context, looking at political, economic, social and cultural issues, as well as providing a thorough operational history.