Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, who would look to have that ship at sea, as long as possible to
pay for her build costs and of course to make the company good profits.
To this end one company may have had no requirement for a particular ship after a time and would then sell her on just like any other disposable commodity.
Hence a ship may have had a few owners and would go through many changes and names during what was
hoped for a long and successful working life.
The S.S.GOTHLAND was built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb for the local famous shipping line of Leith, Hull and Hamburg Steam Packet Co, Ltd and managed by Currie's of Leith. A line that had many ships under ownership and management, I could never understand why with so many local shipping lines in Leith, that the yard of Henry Robb never managed to build more for them, perhaps it was price or some could not be built in the yard due to size.
The order for the steamer GOTHLAND was given to the shipyard in spite of the depression going on at the time, a time when even the building of the two great Queen Liners at Clydebank was put on hold, but the GOTHLAND was built and she proved herself well worth the effort.
The Steamer GOTHLAND was built seven years before the outbreak of World War II, however she was soon to be pressed into service with the outbreak of hostilities. She had been used on the Leith to Hamburg run prior to war.
With the outbreak of warevery thing changed and The GOTHLAND was taken over by the Ministry of Defence.
She was given a special role as a Convoy rescue ship, being half way between a fighting ship and a merchant vessel.
During the first two years of the war, the GOTHLAND was employed in what was for her, long runs to Italy and North Africa.
Then in October 1941, she was called to higher service as a rescue ship attached to North Atlantic Convoys.
Many a ships master must have felt a bit more reassured as he saw the Gothland take up station at the tail of the many convoys knowing that in case of emergency she could help with every practicable rescue device known at the time and her hospital could cope with any injury or exposure.
Her skipper Captain Hadden and his men knew the huge risk they themselves ran in this most demanding of roles both on men and ship.
She was not designed for the stress of the long Atlantic rollers, nor the bitter weather off Nova Scotia and Labrador, which added tons of snow and ice to her upper structure.
For the next four years the GOTHLAND continued the arduous and responsible duty, fortunately without serious damage from the constant threat of U Boat attack and air attacks which became so frequent that because of her great value and the large numbers of survivors from sinking ships onboard she was provided with a fighting ship escort.
Her experiences, exciting and tragic, would take a small volume in themselves to relate. But one interesting occasion should be recorded.
Near the end of April 1944 a request was made from the corvette HESPELER of the Canadian Navy to take on an appendicitis case from one of her crew. During the transfer the officers of the two crews met and discovered to there great joy that the corvette had only recently been completed at the Victoria Shipyards in Leith and she was making her maiden voyage, it seems that both Commanders were full of praise for there Henry Robb built ships.
Before being demobilised after the end of hostilities she came back to the yard for inspection.
To the satisfaction of the owners and the firm of Henry Robb it was found that after a prolonged period of excessive strain, the hull showed no sign of any structural defects, and the worst that could be found was a few slack rivets, a real testament to the shipbuilders who built her.
We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along