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 LLOYDSMAN - Yard No 509 - Salvage Tug - United Towing - Built 1970

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LLOYDSMAN - Yard No 509 - Salvage Tug - United Towing - Built 1970



Ocean Going Salvage Tug.


 The LLOYDSMAN slow ahead in this photo which is the copyright

of Bob Scott and shown here with his permission.


Owners    United Towing Co Ltd
Registered    Hull Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Ocean Salvage Tug Class VII Launched    19/09/1971
     (Official Number 342704) Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    80.7metres Launch Details    
Length B.P.    71.3metres Weather    
Beam    14.172metres Time to Water    
Depth Mld     8.5metres      
G.R.T.    2,041 tonnes      
DWT    1,988 tonnes      
Engines   2 x Vee-10-cylinder Crossley-Pielstick 10PC2-V400 of 16,000 bhp (total) at 500 rpm      
Props    1 KA-ME-WA 9CP) with fixed Towmaster Kort Nozzle      
Speed    18 Knots      
Other known names   1980-SALVISCOUNT    
Current Status   Broken up for scrap 1988    
Content  on the LLOYDSMAN will be added as and when available. 

The LLOYDSMAN at rest

(photo credit unknown for now)


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.

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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.

One of the Worlds mightiest Ocean Going Salvage Tug's was the next ship on the stocks at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon.

She was ordered by the famous towing company Union Towing Co Ltd, a company with a long and proud tradition of ship towage and doing the jobs that few others would attempt, when the company needed the best it was the Leith Yard that they turned to, as the yard had built many, many fine tugs since inception in 1918.

She was managed by Humber tugs Ltd of Hull, which was to be her home base.

The LLOYDSMAN was a special ship with a special power system installed, namely the  Towmaster propulsion and steering system .




The super Tug Lloydsman in Leith dry dock after her first six months.
Note the complex "Towmaster" propulsion and steering system a 17ft Kamewa controlled pitch propeller and five steering vanes, two for'd and three aft of the prop tube.
(Seen here in this photo by Pete Bass and shown here by permission.)

The following is from a Promo written just after her handing over to the Union Towing Company in 1971 by David Rowlands.

Bristling with salvage gear, radio antennae and navigation aids United Towings new 16000 horsepower tug, the Lloydsman is capable of handling the largest ships and oil rigs. Lloydsman, designed by Burness Corlett Partners patrols the world's shipping lanes listening out around the clock for distress signals or the news of a hardwon towing contract. Lloydsman challenges, in power and range of operation, three mighty tugs owned by the West German operator Bugsier.

United Towing have introduced a mighty contender in the ocean towing stakes, the Lloydsman.

"The dominance of West German and Dutch operators in the field of ocean salvage is a very successful myth put about by their publicity agents and the British press," says the man at the helm of Hull-based United Towing, Britain's only contenders in the offshore undertaking business. Playing it cool is managing director Tony Wilbraham's ploy because that's the way the customers like it- he could back his claim with impressive lists of tonnages and valuable cargoes rescued but prefers not to. You understand why when you realise that some of his most contented clients are oil companies whose ships have the habit of creating international panics at the first whiff of helplessness on the seas.

Admittedly Bugsier, the largest West German ocean salvage company. has three giant tugs - Oceanic. Arctic and Pacific-each of 17500 hp. All capable of handling the largest super-tankers with ease. Since last October they have been challenged by United Towing's Lloydsman - not on the face of it, at 16 000 hp. quite in the same league but owing to a unique propulsion and steering system able to undertake equally exacting jobs. Lloydsman was designed by Burness, Corlett & Partners and built at Leith by Robb, Caledon Shipbuilders Ltd.

The Towmaster principle is to enclose the ship's propeller in a fixed nozzle and replace the normal rudder by aerofoil section vanes fore and aft of the nozzle tube. The system is completely variable to suit the smallest in harbour vessel right up to Lloydsman. The designers have evolved a computer program incorporating all the relevant parameters of Towmaster - feed in the design parameters like bollard pull, free running speed and manoeuvrability required plus the amount of engine power you want to install and the computer chews out the various optional Towmaster arrangements. Tug design is inevitably a compromise between free running speed, forward and stern steerability, displacement, bollard pull and economy of operation.

"United Towing's specification for Lloydsman stretched our program to the fullest," admits partner J L Smettem: "when you go to the extreme limits of a design like this you have to verify the results by tank testing". They did this at British Hovercraft's laboratories. A model of Lloydsman was subjected to every possible condition she was likely to meet at sea. Wind' tunnel tests enabled the architects to fair her massive 17ft diameter nozzle into the steel hull and modify the design of the Kamewa controlled pitch propeller rotating inside with only one inch clearance all round. Her bulbous bow, designed to modify the wave pattern of water entering the nozzle, was proved satisfactory as were the architects' attempts to keep the vessel's stern down at all times. Lloydsman has five shutter rudders, two forward and three aft, giving a turning circle of only two and a half ship's length diameter. She is 262ft long and has a breadth of 46ft 6ins.



The LLOYDSMAN being launched at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon (Henry Robbs)

Lloydsman is driven by two Crossley Pielstick V10 diesels of 5000bhp each coupled through a Richardson Westgarth gearbox. On one engine Lloydsman has the capability of most ocean-going tugs now in service -with a bollard pull, measured during trials by an independent laboratory at Europort, Rotterdam, of 80 tons. On both engines the inspectors measured a pull of 135 tons steady. rising to 150 tons maximum. These figures are the indisputable record of Burness, Corlett's achievement because they are as high as the claimed figures for Lloydsman's German rivals which don't have the backing of independent trials. In addition, Oceanic et al are twin screw tugs so single engined operation is inefficient, while United Towing reckon that most of their work can be done economically on one engine. At full stretch Lloydsman can pull a 350 000 ton tanker at 7 knots and can make 18.6 topknots running free. Tugmen place a high value on their ships' displacement, reckoning that in certain situations the more like a sea anchor the tug becomes the easier it is to perform their task. Fully loaded, Lloydsman has a world beating displacement of 3100 tons including 1 500 tons of fuel, enough for 45-50 days towing at maximum power.




LLOYDSMAN seen above at Greenock in the Clyde where she completed some of her trials

(Photo from Paul (Fairfield) and shown here with permission. 


Ocean tugging is not the glamorous life it might appear to be, UT's crews do six month on/six week off stints throughout the world. UT's Englishmen, for instance, has operated out of Singapore for the last two years. Often these tugs sit around like floating vultures in the middle of the international seaways waiting for the plaintive bleeping SOS or the glad news of a hard won contract. There's something of the flavour of piracy in the operation of listening out round the clock with powerful radios tuned to the world's distress frequencies. Designed and supplied by Redifon, a company in which UT maintains a minority financial interest, the radio room equipment consists of a 1.2kW main transmitter, general purpose SSB receiver, reserve transmitter and receiver, 500kHz automatic distress signal and extensive battery charging equipment. A third receiver is installed in the chart room. The company was also responsible for the crew's rest room tv, which receives programmes from all over the world. The radio officer and his assistant listen in to three distress frequencies simultaneously or occasionally tune in to the chatter of other radio officers on the off chance of overhearing misfortunes. In this way Lloydsman could be half way to the scene before receiving a signal that they've got a salvage contract signed by the shipowners. 

Most of the 25-man crew do an awful lot of reading and lying around in their comfortable but modest cabins. The food - enough for three months out of port- is varied and plentiful if unexciting. Accommodation is roomy and there are extra berths for supernumaries - the occasional rescued crew or added complement of divers and Salvage experts. Lloydsman anyway carries a trained diver and has deckhands capable of handling the plethora of salvage equipment. There's even a two-berth sick-bay with a watertight door opening out onto the bridge deck for stretcher access. 




LLOYDSMAN seen here at Gibralter

(photo credit unknown for now)


Lloydsman has two bridges, one carrying the wide forward wheelhouse backed by the navigator's chartroom and the other squashed between the funnels midships overlooking the two equipment holds and the towing winch house. Two Shepherd towing winches fill the winch house, one pulling 100 tons, the other 50 tons on special towing wires. From the winch house the towing wires run forward to two huge towing sheaves. Like pulleys, emerging in the opposite direction over the winch house roof, protected by massive crescent shaped girders, ready to pick up the tow. Closed circuit tv cameras in the winch house reveal the state of the winches to the operator on the towing bridge above.

The tug bristles with salvage equipment. High on the superstructure three Merryweather foam and water fire monitors, the largest of which fires up to 200ft, compete with a forest of radio aerials and the scanners for the ship's two solid state Decca radars. At main deck level there is a fully equipped workshop with overhead gantry and in the holds a vast assortment of submersible pumps, auxiliary compressors and generators, spare towing cables, lengthy pump hoses and silky coils of 100 ton breaking strain nylon rope. ln the wheelhouse one console contains instruments for every facet of the ship's operations. Beside the Decca Pilot 750 main steering system fed by a Sirius gyro-compass and the Decca Navigator Mk 21 is a chart recorder constantly penning out engine speed, propeller pitch, towing speed and towing strain all of which can be placed under automatic control. 



Lloydsman is unique among the world's ocean-going tugs, dominating not by power and speed alone but in overall design and economy of operation- a formidable fighting vessel capable of dealing with tankers over 500 000 tons and the largest oil drilling platforms. Tony Wilbraham provides an amusing example of what tugs like Lloydsman mean to the world's shipowners: he claims that rather than lay up a damaged tanker for six months repairs in a dockyard with consequent loss of revenue, it is cheaper for the owner to hire Lloydsman as a permanent tow to pull the oil-filled hulk between the Persian Gulf and Europe.

The business end of the Lloydsman is the towing deck, top, a platform for the winch house containing two massive Shepherd towing winches, pulling 100 and 50 tons respectively, on thick towing wires which run forward over the hatches to the holds round towing sheaves and back out over the vessel s stern.

Towing is overseen from a small bridge below the camera position.

The main navigation badge console, above, sports compass repeaters, radar, radiotelephone. Decca Pilot 750 main navigating system. Decca Navigator Mk2 1 and a chart recorder penning out engine speed, propeller pitch towing speed and towing strain

The secret of Lloydsman s performance is the Towmaster propulsion and steering system, above, developed by the designers for adaption by computer techniques
to the needs of venous sizes of tug. Lloydsman's Towmaster unit has a 17ft Kamewa controlled pitch propeller and five steering vanes two fore and three aft of the propeller tube, to give adequate manoeuvrability forward and astern








All in all quite a vessel, and she was to ply the worlds oceans for the Union Towing Company for almost 10 years and in this time she was also put to great use to protect Britain's fishing interests when the so called Icelandic Cod Wars broke out and she was on hand to protect the fishing vessels in the area who were under considerable pressure from Icelandic Gunboats to get the hell out of the area.

This deep sea salvage tug was a principal player in the dangerous Icelandic 'Cod War' and was involved in some really nasty moments recorded on film and shown on TV.



Seen above during the Icelandic "Cod War" in the 1970's

(photo credit unknown) 



LLOYDSMAN was then sold on to Selco Singapore Pte Ltd renamed SALVISCOUNT (Sailing under the Singapore flag). She was in operation for only a further 8 years before being sold for demolition in 1988 another fine vessel met her end at Gadani beach Pakistan.

As a tug built at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon (Henry Robb) she had a relatively short working career, only 17 years, perhaps she was just worked into the ground although this would be a difficult description with a ship at sea, or perhaps as is more likely she just became too costly to keep on standby with less and less cargo's to chase for salvage once the Suez canal was back in business and along with the advent of more and more heavy lift capable ships around the world to carry huge loads over oceans she was just not needed so much.




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.



LLOYDSMAN doing a tow

(photo credit unknown for now)


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.




LLOYDSMAN as shown in this fine photo by Bob Scott and shown on the site by permission.


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0 #7 David Lewis 2016-10-05 12:28
Hi all who sailed on the Lloydsman.Just found out Norman Story passed away, he was inspirational what a guy. I sailed her as a young gallyboy then to go on as fire man. I have loads of photos and good memories. Was on her maiden voyage to Iceland and was always in trouble with the gun boat Thor. Thank god I took photos. When the gun boat Thor came close I used to throw industrial size bottles of Ketchup at her until Norman Storey stopped us,they where good times. I Joined the ship in Dubai took 6 weeks to get back to Hull then straight to Leith and from there to the cod war. I was only a lad and remember looking out of the porthole and seeing the bottom of the propellers of this trawler as it was lifted out of the water. All the trawlers advised to take shelter if they could. We where not allowed and had to ride out the storms. Mid winter everyone on deck chipping ice off the ship. I could go on for ever as I spent a long time on the Lloydsman and Statesman. IM SO PROUD
+1 #6 John Taylor 2016-09-25 03:36
I sailed on her as an AB also with Norm Storey as skipper. We picked up a salvage job off west African coast which had been on fire, we towed it to Gibraltar as no ports would let us in, we had to pump out engine room and then towed it to I think Hamburg for repair.
+2 #5 Bruce Partington 2016-09-20 19:26
This was the last ship that I worked on at the yard, Dec. 1972.
0 #4 luke 2015-03-01 05:49
Hey guys just wondered if you could help us out here my grandad was the town master off the Lloydsman but he has sadly passed away have not much memory of him so I wanted to build the Lloydsman in memory of him but i cant seem to find the model so I can build it anywhere much appreciated if you could help thanks
+3 #3 Flosi Thorgeirsson 2015-02-25 14:44
I am a history student at the university of Iceland. I am doing some research on the collisions of the Cod wars. I'd love to talk to someone who served on that ship during the Cod wars in the seventies. Especially if they were onboard in june '73 (clash with ICGV Odinn) or dec.'75 (infamous clash w/ ICGV Thor).
-2 #2 kevin bartlett 2014-05-01 12:49
did my father geogre ever skipper this ship ?
0 #1 jack cousin 2012-10-14 15:05
l was the bosun on the great vessel with
a great master the late Capt. N . Storey
working Iceland and Norway on the sedco 135G The lady of the sea LLoydsman
l biult a thermic lance system ready for cable cutting in lcelandic waters

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