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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 SORRENTO - Yard No 497 - Diesel Cargo - Ellerman Wilson Line - Built 1967
 
 

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SORRENTO - Yard No 497 - Diesel Cargo - Ellerman Wilson Line - Built 1967

SORRENTO-sml 

 M.V.SORRENTO Ship No 497

 

   
Owners    Ellerman Wilson Line (Wilson Line Ship)
           
Registered    Hull Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Diesel Cargo Launched    24/05/1967
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    308' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    280' 0" Weather    
Beam     45' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld      26' 0"      
Draught           
G.R.T.    1559      
DWT          
           
Engines    6 cyl oil engine built by Mirrlees National Ltd, Stockport, England      
Props    1      
Speed    13.5 KNOTS      
           
Other known names  

Re-Named City of Sparta (1974) Ellerman Line.
Re-Named Gracechurch (1978) Gracechurch Lines

She had many more names throughout her 43 year working life and ended up being named as the MV AL MARJAN.

   
           
Current Status    She burned at her moorings in Mogadishu in 2012    
 
as content on the MV SORRENTO become available it will be added here. 
 
SORRENTO_III_2
 
 Photo of the M.V.SORRENTO dock side by Stuart and shown here by 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.SORRENTO was the third ship in what was the largest order for ships to be built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb. she would be the third ship to have the name of SORRENTO for the shipping line of Ellerman Wilson.

The order was from The Ellerman Wilson Line and was for a total of seven (7) ship of which five were to form the new "S" Class of cargo vessel for the Wilson Line with the other two ships to be Papayanni Line ships.

This was a big order for the shipyard and it meant continued employment for the highly skilled shipbuilders of Leith for the next three years of there build.

More functional than and not as elegant as the previous Ellerman vessels built in the yard, but a very welcome order.

She was the third ship of the Ellerman Line to have the name of SORRENTO and sailed as a Wilson Line ship.

 

SORRENTO_III_1 

 

The above photo of The M.V.SORRENTO is show here courtesy of Stuart

 

The Wilson line were in the process of developing a modern fleet equipped for speedy and efficient cargo-handling, the "S" class ships had on board cranes to allow the handling of general and containerised cargo and loaded pallets as well as refrigerated containers.

They also had side-loading doors port and starboard or driving cargo straight into the t'ween decks.

She was fitted with a bow thrusters to aid berthing and docking, all in all very modern ships for the time.

SORRENTO was of course named after the Italian town.

The "S" Class ships as they were to be known, while still fitted out to a high standard did not quite have the same opulence as previous Ellerman ships built at Leith.

With her super structure aft as was becoming the norm for ships at this time to give more hold space and a smaller shaft coupled to the engine, this was a big saving in cost for the owners.

She was used on the trade routes from Hull to East Sweden, across the unpredictable North Sea, as part of the Ellerman Wilson Line reorganisation around 1973/4 she was transferred into the Ellerman City Line and she was renamed CITY OF SPARTA.

Seen above unloading in dock as the CITY OF SPARTA (photo credit unknown) 

She trade the Mediterranean routes with the Ellerman City Line.

She continued with the City Line for another 4 years before being sold on to the Gracechurch Shipping line, London and she was renamed as Gracechurch. 

The ex MV SORRENTO was to go on and have many different names over her life span of 43 years as a useful working vessel, same ship with a different name traded around some of the many smaller and somewhat less reputable shipping lines, she was sold on by the Gracechurch line to be re-named as Waybridge in 1983 next in line was the name of Five Stars three years later in 1986 only to change her name again six years on from being called Five Stars she then took on the name Sea Princes in 1992 to trade under this name before yet another name change this time in 1997 to be named as the MV ALBATROS, before she was to take her last and final known name of AL MARJAN in the year 2000.

This was the name she would trade under as she plied the waters of the Horn of Africa, somewhat dangerous waters well known for the threat from local modern Pirates who are shall we say nothing in the least bit glamorous just modern day maritime gangsters and thugs armed to the teeth with modern weapons and fast boats to carry them in, however this small Leith Built ship would find herself voyaging through and most of her trade at the time was involved in relief efforts, and delivering much needed food commodities from Dar es Salaam to Kismayu and Merca, up until The ship was hijacked by Somali pirates while on its way to that wonderful city of Mogadishu! from Dubai, she was taken over on 17th October 2007. She was only released by the pirates on the 2nd December 2007 off the coast of Somalia, where she received much needed assistance from the USS Whidbey Island part of a task force set up to help deal with the local pirates who were making things very dangerous in this part of the world.

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.

 

 
 You can make out some of the US Navy personel on the foc'sle of the ex MV SORRENTO in this U.S.Navy photograph

  

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.

The following is a report released at the time by the United States Navy

Merchant vessel Al Marjan was released from pirates off the Somali coast Dec. 2. 2007 Al Marjan had been under the control of Somalia-based pirates since Oct. 17. The U.S. Navy dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) was on hand to assist the vessel and its crew following its release. The U.S. Navy has maintained a ship presence off the coast of Somalia since late October, where there have been six pirated vessels off the Somali coast in the last 30 days. The U.S.-led multinational maritime task force responsible for planning counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa includes Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Coalition forces conduct Maritime Security Operations under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region

 

This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 071202-N-3764J-002

 This remarkable small cargo vessel carried on working although it was under somewhat dubious circumstances that she was to meet her fate some 2 years after beeing controlled by the pirates as she burned at her moorings while in the port of that wonderful city of Mogadishu! under the ownership of Shamir Marine out of the United Arab Emirites. Operated by Biyat International and registered in Comoros!

The vessel caught fire and burned in the port of Mogadishu, while smuggling charcoal from Somalia to Oman and so ended the tale of another ship built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd.

 

One of the 5 "S" Class ships built originally for the Ellerman Wilson Line all these years previously.

 

They do say it is "Bad Luck" to change the name of a ship but the MV SORRENTO had more than most.

 

Have to say though that I prefered the name that Ship No 497 was given when she launched from the shipyard in May 1967 that of the MV SORRENTO

As you can see from the above US Navy photograph released at the time she does not look too bad considering she was 40 years old and had been in the hands of pirates for 3 months.

She would need a good lick of paint and a good de-lousing, fumagated and would be good for trade again. 

Although i do not for one moment think that this happened she was just checked over and continued working until her end in 2012.

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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Comments   

 
0 #1 Richard Winchester 2014-12-17 10:25
In 1973 we took Sorrento across the Atlantic to sail from Montreal to the Canadian Arctic. The trip across in ballast was bad pounding all the way then the arctic trips dodging burgs and working cargo onto barges that were carried on deck then in Pond Inlet we had a blizzard that had me and Capt Needham struggling with wire ropes to try and save the barges we lost one that was found grounded 3 miles away.We later took a cargo to Newport News then rolls of paper on the homeward trip to Ellesmere Port.
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