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 KUMALLA - Yard No 456 - Diesel Cargo Vessel - Union Steamship Co N.Zealand - Built 1956

Leith Shipyards

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KUMALLA - Yard No 456 - Diesel Cargo Vessel - Union Steamship Co N.Zealand - Built 1956


 The M.V KUMALLA Ship No 456  
Owners    Union Steam Ship Co. of NZ Ltd (Melbourne)
Registered    Melbourne Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Cargo Ship Launched    09/11/1956
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall     Launch Details    
Length B.P.    235' 0" Weather    
Beam    45' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Mld      15' 3"      
Draught    14' 0"      
G.R.T.    1,946 tons      
Props    1      
Speed    10 knots      
Other known names   1972- COBARGO, 1979- BISMARCK SEA, 1981 AVONDALE    
Current Status   Brocken up for scrap 1986    
Content on KUMALLA will be added as and when available. 

The M.V.KUMALLA as Avondale

(Photo G.Ferguson collection)


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.KUMALLA was another order from the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, she was part of a 3 ship order from the company to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.

Specially designed for the carriage of pyritic ores from the port of Strahan, on the west coast of Tasmania, to Melbourne.

She was a sister to the M.V. KONINI built at the same time. She was a sturdy little cargo ship with 2 holds one of 100ft and one of 40 ft in length, complete with steel McGregor type hatches.

She was part of the USSCo Ltd fleet until being sold to to Hethking Steamships Pty. Ltd., Sydney, renamed Cobargo and sailed under the Australian flag.

Between 1978 and 1985 she was sold on another 4 times to different shipping interests and was to visit New Zealand many times under flags of convienience to load bags of cement before being scrapped in 1986.

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.

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 #6 IAN McKECHNIE 2017-04-21 02:27
I stood by the building of her Nov 1965. It was during trials that it was discovered the wrong propeller had been fitted as she didn't make her service speed.The correct propeller was to be shipped out on the next ship in build at the time. We left Leith and sailed north about Scotland to Swansea for a cargo of tin plate at a speed of about 8 knots.We then sailed South about Cape Town and docked in Melbourne after 63 days, average speed 8.6 knots. Wind on the nose all the way which was strange as normally the weather would have been up our stern .Clipper Ships used sail the voyage faster !!!
0 #5 Michael Ayland 2017-02-01 21:56
Last message should have said "worth a watch but she was moored quayside in every shot". Spellchecker did an unwanted correction
0 #4 Michael Ayland 2017-02-01 20:58
As the Cobargo she starred in the 1978 Australian film "Mcgee and the Lady" about a Captain who was about to loose his ship to a finance company. Worth a watch but was moored quayside in every shot.
+1 #3 dqvid james 2015-07-20 10:46
have a look at Melbourne to Strahan for USS Co Dave James
+1 #2 Jim Walden 2014-01-15 00:47
I joined the Kumalla as a bucko April 1957. I was in the first crew on her maiden voyage to Strahan. Did my two years ordinary seamans time.
+3 #1 Kevin Harrison 2013-12-12 08:22
I sailed in the Kumalla in 1971 as A/B she was a great little ship and a good job on deck as well.I remember the mate very well he was a true gentleman his name was Wally Stewart. We traded between N.S.W.ports and Tasmanian ports. Cheers.

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