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 MTWARA - Yard No 393 - Passenger & Cargo Vessel - British India S.N. Co - Built 1950

Leith Shipyards

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MTWARA - Yard No 393 - Passenger & Cargo Vessel - British India S.N. Co - Built 1950




The motor vessel MTWARA was a passenger/cargo ship ordered from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb by BI Lines.

  The MV MTWARA Ship No 393 at sea.

(Photo kindly supplied by P&O Heritage Collection) 

Owners    British India Steam Navigation Co.
Registered    London Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Passenger/Cargo Launched    20/08/1950
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    298' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    280' 0" Weather    
Beam    46' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     27' 6"      
Draught    16' 0"      
G.R.T.    2629 tons      
DWT    1815 tons      
Engines   2 x 5 Cylinder 2 SCSA Polar Diesels, built by J.G.Kincaid of Greenock, Scotland, producing 4,000 bhp      
Props    2      
Speed    16.74 knots (Trials) 14 knots (Service)      
Other known names   1953-Ville De Haiphong, 


Current Status   Unknown, but believed broken up.    
Content on the MV MTWARA 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 passenger/cargo ship MTWARA was the second ship in an order from the British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd, to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.

She carried 26 first class passengers, 40 2nd class passengers and wait for it 350 deck passengers. She had a refrigerated capacity of 2,000 sq ft.

She worked up and down the coast of east Africa for the british India Steam Navigation Co, Ltd. BI Lines as it was known was in fact a subsidairy company of P & O who had taken over the company in the 1920s, and the famous company continued with its original name operating as a seperate company.

She operated on the coast from Karachi/Mechran coast, and the lower Persian Gulf coasts. She was named after the town of East African town of Mtwara. A larger ship than her sister MOMBASA she cost £449,500 to build and she was only in service with BI for around two years before being sold to shipping interests in Siagon where she was intended for service in French indo-China, but she was sold on again to Chile in 1956, renamed NAVARINO where she traded south along the Chilean coast from Valparaiso, she was re-engined in 1965 with 2 x 9 cylinder 4 SCSA MAN diesels, giving her a bit more power at 4065 bhp.

MTWARA was then sold to the Chilean Navy for use as a training ship in 1982 and her history is unclear as she was reported as still being in service in 1992.

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.

This nice view of MTWARA at sea is from the P&O Heritage Collection and has been kindly supplied by them for show on this website.
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 Water Wunderlich 2012-03-23 14:28
"Navarino", former "Mtwara", "Ville de Haiphong", was purchased by the Chilean Navy in 1978 to serve as an accomodation and services ship. She was sunk in an artillery and torpedo exercise in November 1981. Despite countless shell hits and severe torpedo damage, she managed to stay afloat for hours before going to the bottom in the Strait of Magellan waters. Fine and gallant vessel!

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