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 SOFALA - Yard No 241 - Motor Cargo Vessel - British India S.N. Co - Built 1937

Leith Shipyards

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SOFALA - Yard No 241 - Motor Cargo Vessel - British India S.N. Co - Built 1937


The M.V.SOFALA was built for the BI Line and was Ship No 241 at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.
Owners    British, India Steam and Navigation Co
Registered    Bombay Keel Laid    06/03/1937
Type of Ship    Twin Screw Motor Cargo Ship Launched    25/08/1937
      Handed Over    30/10/1937
Ship Details          
Length Overall    244' 7" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    231' 7" Weather    
Beam    36' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     22' 0"      
Draught    14' 0"      
G.R.T.    1,031 tons      
DWT    1,300 tons      
Engines   Twin Screw, 2 x 5 Cylinder BritishPolar, 2S.SA, 1, 450 BHP, 312 NHP      
Props    2      
Speed    12 knots      
Other known names   1955 renamed VOORLOPER, 1968 renamed SINCERE ORIENT
1993 deleted from Lloyd's register
Current Status   No news on her after 1993, assumed scrapped.    
SOFALA is the name of a port and now province of

Mozambique and also a town in New South Wales Australia

Content on will be added as and when available. 
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.

The twin screw motor vessel SOFALA was built for one of the biggest shipping companies in the world at the time, the British, India, Steam & Navigation Co. Which had the parent company of P&O.

Sofala was specifically built for the East African Coastal Trades, she had four work boats aft to assist in cargo working at Roadstead ports, and she was the first Company ship with her Engine Room aft.

At the start of the second world war she was taken into Naval service, to carry cased petrol.

In October of 1942 she became a Cased Petrol Ship and had the distinction of being the first British Merchant Ship to enter Benghazi four days after it had been captured by the Allies in 1942.

After the war she returned to peacetime duty with BI plying her trade up and down the East African trade routes.
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.




The M.V.SOFALA (photo was first shown in a copy of BINews by D.Milligan)


The M.V.SOFALA underway, from a photograph reproduced with kind permission of P&O Heritage collection.


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.

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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