The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1918 to 1939 ATLANTIC COAST - Yard No 204 - Coaster - Coast Lines Ltd - Built 1934

Leith Shipyards

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ATLANTIC COAST - Yard No 204 - Coaster - Coast Lines Ltd - Built 1934
The MV ATLANTIC COAST built for the famous Coast Lines shipping Company.
Owners    Coast Lines Ltd
Registered     Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Motor Cargo Ship Launched    16/05/1934
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall     Launch Details    
Length B.P.    230' 0" Weather    
Beam    35' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Moulded    21' 6"      
G.R.T.    888 tons      
Engines   Twin 5 Cylinder British Polar oil engines      
Props    2      
Speed    12 knots      
Other known names   PONDO COAST    
Current Status        
Content on MV ATLANTIC COAST will be added as and when available. 
The M.V.ATLANTIC COAST seen here in Kirkcaldy around 1962
(Photograph courtesy of Ian Thirlwell whose Uncle Pat served on her) 
Ships History
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.
She was the second ship of an order for the famous Coast Line shipping Company.
She was a twin screw Motor Cargo vessel, designed and built for the trade routes around the British Isles and other short sea route trading. They were the most modern of design for the time, and were to establish a new standard of efficiency and economy. The Coast line vessels were to be called up early to serve in the coming World War II
Wartime service
This five year old, relatively new "Coaster" was requisitioned for war work by the Admiralty in October 1939. Her cargo was to be one of the most dangerous that of cased petrol for the supply at first of the British Expeditionary Force in France.
She was to make more than half a dozen of these risky trips from the end of October 1939 up to May 1940.
The motor vessel "ATLANTIC COAST" was damaged many times whilst voyaging around the east coast of Scotland, but escaped direct hits. In 1940 she detonated an acoustic mine, which severely damaged the engine room, but she got safely to harbour and, after repair, saw a long period of service on the West Coast of Africa.
MV ATLANTIC COAST also took pert in the invasion of North Africa at Oran.
Before she returned again to take part in the invasion of the Normandy beaches. During the days after D-Day she was to help supply the invasion force with cased petrol, to help keep the allied armies moving.
TheM.V.ATLANTICCOAST served the U.S. Army beaches of “OmahaBeach” and “Utah beach” with deliveries of cased petrol.
And she was to continue serving the supply of cased petrol for a long time after D-Day as the demand for petrol on the Continent was insatiable.

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.
Profile of the M.V.ATLANTIC COAST
Ships like this were a very common sight around the coastlines of Europe for many years, sadly now no longer and we have to make do with the boxy little shaped vessels that are used to great effect one has to add nowadays.
Tales from the Ship
Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.
Memories of the
told to the website by Rob Young 
The photograph above sent in and shown by permission
of Rob Young is a model of the ex
ATLANTIC COAST which was re-named PONDO COAST 
I was very attached to this ship and spent the first
year of my cadetship aboard her. However I had made voyages previously on her
as a “schoolboy cadet” during my high school holidays. Knowing that she had
participated in the evacuation of Dunkirk, the D-Day landings on Normandy and
also the North African landings at Oran, I was always on the look-out for
structural evidence of war-damage repairs or of mountings for defensive
armament (if any), but found nothing. I was surprised to read on your site that
she suffered some engine room damage due to a close encounter with an acoustic
mine. There was certainly no evidence of that in the 1960’s – the damage was
probably limited to pipework, skin fittings and / or leaking rivets.
Thesen’s inherited since its acquisition by Coast
Lines in 1949 some other elderly ships emptied-out by Coast Lines.
They included: “Griqua Coast”, ex- “Anglian Coast”
built 1935 by SP Austin & Son, Sunderland (a yard later to become
associated with Pickersgill and the SD14 Liberty ship replacement – Unicorn owning
the two last Brazil-built versions); “Herero Coast”, built 1950 by Bodewes
Bros, Foxhol, Holland and sent to SA in 1953; “Zulu Coast” ex-“Carrick Coast”
built 1934 by Ardrossan Dockyard; “Matabele Coast” ex- “Dorset Coast” built
1938 by Boele’s Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, Bolnes, Holland; and
finally, the exception in that she was a modern vessel at the time – “Cape
Coast” ex-“Baltic Coast”, built 1948 by Ardrossan Dockyard. During Coast Lines’
ownership of Theses, the company had two further modern twin-screw motorships
purpose-designed and built for the
Namaqualand port of Port Nolloth which called for 

shallow-draught, a length restriction, and excellent manoeuvrability.
Consequently “
Zulu Coast
” (2) built in 1957 by Ardrossan, and "Swazi Coast" (2)
built 1963 by Clelands, Wallsend-on-Tyne, were twin-screw (British Polar of
course!) and had twin rudders.
I served on “Swazi” in all engineer ranks up to Chief
Engineer and years later as Marine Manager was involved in her sale.
Above photograph shows a plan view of the model of ex ATLANTIC COAST re-named PONDO COAST and shown here by kind permission of Rob Young
She had a lovely deep-toned air-whistle on the funnel,
with a rope lanyard connecting it to the wheelhouse amidships. The lanyard had
a long span, with some suspension provided by a small block as it passed by the
mainmast. Nevertheless the length of the rope was such that, when wet due to
rain, spray or fog it was sufficiently heavy that when the ship heaved
violently, the inertia of the rope caused the whistle to blast! When the ship
pounded / slammed in light-ship condition and the hull subsequently
oscillated for a few cycles, the whistle kept beat! The Master, a Norwegian
ex-Antarctic whalerman, would not permit the air to be shut off the whistle,
not even in these circumstances. He was correct of course, and we just got used
to it.
I recall during
one spell of bad weather the ship slammed so severely that the engine room
hinged wooden (teak) skylights, which were held open vertically by simple
hook-and-staple arrangement, became unhooked and slammed shut with a terrible
bang. Some of the port light glasses in the skylights shattered and showered
themselves onto us in the engine room, where we were manually controlling the
engine speed as the response of the Polar’s mechanical governors was inadequate
for those conditions.

Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.
Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.

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0 #13 Rob Young 2016-06-04 14:26
Hello Ray - Your memory is not so bad: the Marine Superintendent based at Thesen's docks office on No. 5 Quay was indeed Capt. Dudley Stephen. Engineer Superintendent was Tommy Russell. Both were good men. Roy Bishop handled the stores, pay, admin, etc. The RFD liferaft service station was on the top floor, the mechanical workshop was on the ground floor and with the German, Ilse in charge. "Xhosa Coast" was indeed the smallest of the fleet - a "daddy's yacht" and neat as a pin. She would have found the going heavy against the current on the east coast. Can you recall the names of any of the staff on "Pondo Coast" during your spell on her?
0 #12 Ray Walker 2016-06-04 12:11
Sailed as 2nd Mate around 1963
0 #11 Ray Walker 2016-06-04 12:07
Am now in my mi 70's and long left the sea. Am an ex General Botha Cadet(59/60) Did time with Safmarine and the onto Thesen's ships First the smallest of all the Xhosa C. then Zulu C. and finally Pondo C. sailing as second mate. My memory fails me these days. The Co. Marine sup at that time was I think Capt. Stephens? What really sticks out in my memory is watch keeping and trying to navigate with that bloody "Dry card" compass that could easily do 360 deg. spins' when pounding our way up the east Coast making about 6konts if we were lucky!
0 #10 Rob Young 2016-01-25 11:10
Hi Peter, I may possibly be able to assist you. Although it's all long time ago, I served on the ship - as "Pondo Coast" throughout 1966, and I probably can recall most of her structural arrangements. In addition, as seen from photos on this forum, I have a waterline scale model of the ship. this was constructed by a Cape Town model-builder from copies of the ship's original builder's drawings, so conforms accurately to the ship "as-built". Furthermore, I have two (badly water-damaged) photos I took in 1966 - one is a starboard aft view of the centre castle taken from the starboard aft end of the main deck, the other is of the forecastle taken from the wheelhouse. Should you require I can also take some detailed photos of my model.The water-damaged photos would be perfectly suitable for your purpose. Unfortunately I no longer possess the builder's drawings. Please provide me with your e-mail address - through The Loftsman should you prefer not to reveal it on this forum.
0 #9 Peter Rees 2016-01-24 22:58
I have a radio controlled model of this lovely ship with very slight damage, I have searched on line and seen the 5 pics of the ship but not in close up. I an mainly interested in the centre castle structure. Do you kmow where I can obtain pics of her?
0 #8 Ed Maulson 2015-11-21 07:37
Hi Robert. hanks for your thoughts on the bell. Unfortunately any accurate history has died with my aunt and uncle. All that I know for certain is that Eric Thomas was a member of the crew of a vessel named Atlantic Coast when he and my aunt married and as a wedding present they were presented with the bell currently in my possession. Perhaps the ship's log might have a record of crew members from that period.
0 #7 Robert Young 2015-11-15 18:18
Ed, I don't believe your mentioned bell originates from the ship referred to here. When I was serving aboard the ship in 1966, then trading on the South African coast as "Pondo Coast" for South African owners, her anchor bell on the fo'c'sle and her bridge bell were still in situ and bore the deeply-engraved script "Atlantic Coast 1934". I seem to recall that there was a 1940's-era US ship by the name of "Atlantic Coast".
0 #6 Ed Maulson 2015-09-26 07:10
I have a ship's bell with the words "Atlantic Coast" deeply engraved on it. It was apparently a wedding present by the ship's company given to my aunt and uncle, Jo and Eric Thomas when they married sometime in the late forties. I wonder if this is the bell from the ship written of above
0 #5 Ronnie Stuart 2013-10-27 17:19
Quoting Richard Wray:
I was one of the stewards on that trip to Africa, I think it took us three weeks to get their, The "Windsor Castle" past twice on round journeys, it took 4 days to get home flying from Capetown, Joburgh, Athens, Luxemburg (we had to return their because we had engine trouble), we had agreat time on that flight home with the air crew

Do you remember my dad Richard?
0 #4 Richard Wray 2013-01-29 15:55
I was one of the stewards on that trip to Africa, I think it took us three weeks to get their, The "Windsor Castle" past twice on round journeys, it took 4 days to get home flying from Capetown, Joburgh, Athens, Luxemburg (we had to return their because we had engine trouble), we had agreat time on that flight home with the air crew

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