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 1946 to 1984 HIRONDELLE - Yard No 396 - Diesel Cargo Vessel - General Steam Nav. Co Ltd - Built 1950

Leith Shipyards

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HIRONDELLE - Yard No 396 - Diesel Cargo Vessel - General Steam Nav. Co Ltd - Built 1950


The General Steam Navigation Co, Ltd
 The MV HIRONDELLE Ship No 396  
Owners    General Steam & Navigation Co Ltd (Part of the huge P&O shipping group)
Registered    Liverpool Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Cargo/Coaster Launched    22/06/1950
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    199' 8" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    196' 0" Weather    
Beam    35' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     20' 4"      
G.R.T.    757 tons      
Engines   7-cylinder 2 SCSA diesel engine
built by British Polar Engines Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland
Props    1      
Speed    11.5 knots service speed      
Other known names   1966-Clyde    
Current Status   Sunk as a target ship by Royal Canadian Navy 1986    
Content on MV HIRONDELLE will be added as and when available. 
 Building a model ship in a bottle

HIRONDELLE on trials in the River Forth, flying the Henry Robb flag.

(Photo is coptright P&O heritage and shown here with kind permission)


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 M.V.HIRONDELLE Ship No 396 was an order from the General Steam Navigation Company Ltd, this small coaster was the first of a two ship order to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.

In what was to be a golden era for British Shipbuilding, with all yards having full order books and working to maximum capacity, what with the shipping companies trying to replace war losses. The next ten years were to be very profitable for the Henry Robb shipyard.

This was at a time before the German and Japanese shipyards were to get there acts together with all the new funding and tooling supplied in principle by the victorious allies (mostly American money as Britain was skint)

The HIRONDELLE was a modern single screw diesel engine ship for use on short inshore coastal routes. With her low funnel astern and collapsible masts for navigating up the inshore river ports, they were the principle method of transporting goods at a time before air and road transport had taken a hold of transportation.

She was a sister ship of the M.V.SWIFT also ordered from GSNC Ltd, which although an autonomous company in operation the parent company was in fact P & O shipping group, which had taken them over in the 1920's.

A modern design for the time she was to be used by her owners for around 16 years before being sold on to Canadian shipping interests, so it was in April of 1966 that the small coaster made her way across the stormy seas of the North Atlantic to take up her new duties with the Lake Shipping Co Ltd, St Johns, Newfoundland, and renamed Clyde.

She continued voyaging around North America until 1986 when she was used as a target ship and sunk by the Royal Canadian Navy off Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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.

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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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