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 KAHIKA - Yard No 245 - Motor Cargo Vessel - Union Steamship Co of N.Z. - Built 1937

Leith Shipyards

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KAHIKA - Yard No 245 - Motor Cargo Vessel - Union Steamship Co of N.Z. - Built 1937


The famous old flag of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.
 M.V.KAHIKA first in line of many ships built in Leith for U.S.S.Co
 (Photograph by A.C.Green)
Owners    Union Steamship Co of N.Z., Melbourne, Australia
Registered    Melbourne Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Twin Screw Motor Cargo Ship Launched    17/12/1937
      Handed Over    01/02/1938
Ship Details          
Length Overall     Launch Details    
Length B.P.    235' 0" Weather    
Beam    45' 0" Time to Water    
Draught    13' 4"      
G.R.T.    1,537 tons      
DWT    1,450 tons      
Engines   Twin Atla "Polar" 2 x 4 cylinder  250 nhp by British Auxiliaries of Glasgow.      
Props    2      
Speed    11 knots      
Other known names        
Current Status   Wrecked March 1940    
(Photograph by A.C.Green)
The M.V.KAHIKA was named after a well known "Tree" Kahika being a Maori name.
For more about the Kahika tree  
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.

The twin screw motor vessel KAHIKA was the first in a long line of ships built by Henry Robb Leith Shipyards, for the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.
She had been ordered by the company to replace the KAKARIKI and was to be used on the companies Australian routes.
The KAHIKA was unfortunately wrecked while on a passage from Strahan to Melbourne on March 16th 1940, she struck rocks and was wrecked near to west point Tasmania.

Her design was based on the same ships lines as used on a previous vessel "Port Tauranga" with her bridge aft position to give lots of cargo space, built very solid and with clean lines she was sad to say not as lucky as the Port Tauranga which went on to have a very long working life.

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.KAHIKA underway in a calm sea.
 (Photograph from A.C.Green series)

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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0 #1 Jo-Anne Nichols 2013-02-28 23:10
Appreciate being able to look this up on Google & read about the boat my dad was on. He was the deckboy (Thornton Root - although he has been listed as T. Boot in the newspaper articles about the boat when it sunk) He is about to turn 90 in April and this information has been vital in helping to prepare a presentation for him :)

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