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 WAIMATE - Yard No 398 - Diesel Cargo - Union Steamship Co N.Zealand - Built 1951

Leith Shipyards

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WAIMATE - Yard No 398 - Diesel Cargo - Union Steamship Co N.Zealand - Built 1951


 The M.V.WAIMATE Ship No 398  
Owners    Union Steamship Co, Ltd of New Zealand
Registered    Wellington Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Cargo Launched    24/06/1951
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    354' 8" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    325' 0" Weather    
Beam    50' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     33' 9"      
G.R.T.    3506 tons      
DWT    4989 tons      
Engines    British Polar Engine      
Props    1      
Speed    10.5 knots      
Other known names   72- EASTERN PLANET, - 77 SKYLUCK    
Current Status    Broken up 1981    
Content on the MV WAIMATE  will be added as and when available. 

The WAIMATE was named after a town on the South Island of New Zealand

For more on her name

 Shipwreck, Scuba Diving and Fossil e-Books

the M.V.WAIMATE in Wellington

(photo is from L.Buttersfield's own collection-reproduced here with thanks)


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 Making of New Zealanders

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.



Originally laid down as KURUTAI with her name changed during the build she was one of the larger ships ordered by the Union Steamship Co of New Zealand from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb, built in 1951 she went on to serve the USSCo Ltd for around 20 years before being sold on with the advent of containerisation ships which the traditional derrick cargo ships just could not compete with, another sturdy built ship that plied the waters of New Zealand and she was a familiar sight in port.

She was sold on first to a company in the Philippines in 1972; she was then sold on again in 1977 and renamed Sky Luck, whilst under this somewhat colourful name she arrived in Hong Kong harbour after a voyage from Singapore with 3,000 Vietnamese refugees onboard. A journey which should have taken around 5 days took about 27 days which would account for all the refugees being loaded onto her.

When she arrived in Hong Kong harbour the authorities refused her landing permission so she had no option but to sit around at anchor for about 4 months, in which conditions must have got pretty bad, one night the ship mysteriously drifted into shore and ran aground where the majority of the stranded passengers proceeded to disappear, later investigation was to show that her anchor cable had been cut, the ship was impounded and demolition was ordered, so she was broken up at Lamma where she had run aground in 1981. 


As the ship "Sky Luck" aground on the rocks at Lammu, Hong Kong where she was demolished where she lay in 1981. A sad end for this fine ship. 

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.


 The picture above is one of the WAIMATE sent in by J.Stewart who worked on her in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb as a ships plumber. You can read more about his time in the yard at the website he runs at  


 The above simple 'Profile' drawing of WAIMATE was kindly sent in to the site by L.Butterfield

 Note-A lot of the photographs used on this site and in particular the ones of the ships built in the Leith shipyards for New zealand have been kindly donated by the guys on the Oceana Shipping Forum, a great source of information on ships used in New Zealand waters.
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0 #1 Capt Ian Telke 2013-10-18 04:52
I served on the Union steamship Co MV Waimate as a very young deck boy
my first time at sea back in 1955. After leaving the coast of New Zealand our first port of call was Singapore looking back at this time I still remember the marvelous sense of discovery of a strange land and its people and the thrill of being at sea . For me this was a first many doorways through which I went finding adventure and great opportunities in life.

Capt.Ian Telke

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