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 HERO - Yard No 511 - Ro/Ro Trailer Transport - E.W.L. & D.F.D.S. (U.K.) Ltd - Built 1973

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HERO - Yard No 511 - Ro/Ro Trailer Transport - E.W.L. & D.F.D.S. (U.K.) Ltd - Built 1973


MS HERO Ship No 511


 The Motor Ship MV HERO

(photo credit unknown)


Owners   EWL & DFDS (UK) Ltd 
Registered   Hull, England  Keel Laid    09/10/1971
Type of Ship   Ro-Ro Trailer Transport  Launched    02/06/1972
      Handed Over    21/12/1972
Ship Details          
Length Overall   114.5 metres  Launch Details    
Length B.P.   105.0 metres Weather    
Beam   19 metres  Time to Water    
Depth Mld    12 metres      
G.R.T.    3,375 tonnes      
DWT    3,634 tonnes      
Engines   2 x Crossley 10PC2V Diesels, producing around 10,000 hp       
Props    2      
Speed    17 Knots      
Other known names   N/A    
Current Status   Sank in heavy weather North Sea 1977    
Content on the Motor Ship MV HERO 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 Ro-Ro Transport Ship HERO was an order from a company formed from two very famous ship owning lines namely E.W.L. & D.F.D.S. (U.K.) Ltd.

Domino Container Ships Ltd and the Danish Ferry Company had decided to collaborate as joint venture partners on some of the routes over the North Sea hence to new company set up to run the ships. To be managed by the Wilson Line who ran all there ships out of the home port of Hull. To all intents and purposes she was an Ellerman Wilson Ship.

With the increase in traffic required over the short sea route from the East Coast of the British Isles to Scandinavia there was at the time a real opening in the market for ship owners to make some real profit out of these routes. The M.V.HERO also had room for 12 passengers as well as her crew.

This was the second similar ship to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon.

Launched from the yard in 1972, she was another fair size ship to be built at the yard with as I remember a big slab side that seemed to rise very high from her keel which was resting on the keel blocks, to her main deck was a height of around 40 feet plus 4 feet of keel block clearance so she was a long way up to get to her super structure.

She was to undergo a ship lengthening during 1976 at a Dutch Shipyard of ADM (Amsterdam Drydock Company) so that she could carry more cargo, and her height at side was also increased by a further 2 metres or so.

Her length was increased by 18.3 metres and her gross tonnage went up from 3468 tonnes to 4,493 tonnes.

The new lengthened ship was to ply her trade over the North sea for a further year or so before she set out on a voyage from Esbjerg in Denmark heading for the port of Grimsby on the East Coast of England, after two days of very heavy weather the ship was found to be taking on a lot of water and her captain decided to abandon ship so the rescue services were alerted and on to the scene pretty quickly, with one of them being a rescue helicopter from a nearby Canadian Navy ship HMCS HURON, this helicopter managed to lift seven of the crew of the stricken vessel, unfortunately one of the crewmen died from injuries received just as the rescue helicopter landed back on the deck of HMCS HURON in horrendous weather. The crew of the helicopter are to be commended for taking off in such bad weather but that is what people at sea do when another vessel is in danger.

See the comment on the Blog on Leith built Ships from Steven Weaver who served on HMCS HURON during the rescue of the crewmen fro M.V.HERO

The official enquiry into the foundering of the M.V.HERO found the ship owners at fault for the un-seaworthiness of the ship.


Extract from:-

The full minutes and official report of the formal investigation held in Hull over a period of ten days in June/July 1979, into the disaster that befell the M/V HERO in the North Sea with the loss of one seaman, on the 13th November 1977. Messrs Gurney & Sons provide a word by word account of the proceedings of the court so a full and complete record is presented. The Court concluded that the loss of the ship was due in part by the continuing ingress of water through the vessel's stern doors due to the un-seaworthy condition, and in part by the further ingress of water probably through heavy weather damage in way of the forecastle deck. The un-seaworthiness was caused by the wrongful act or default of the owners. The HERO was a Ro-Ro vessel registered in Hull and owned jointly by the Domino Container Ships Limited and DFDS (UK) Ltd., both of London. She was originally built in 1972 by Robb Caledon at Leith, and structurally altered in Holland in 1976 when she was lengthened. The HERO sailed on her final voyage from Esbjerg for Grimsby on the 11th November 1977, laden with about 3,654 tonnes of cargo. Officers and crew totalled 27 and in addition there were 3 passengers on board. Two days out in open sea the ship ran into heavy weather and began to list as she took on water in her engine room and trailer deck. "Immediate assistance" was requested and the ship was abandoned and later sank.

The lengthening or "Jumbosizing" as it was known of the MV HERO was carried out by the Dutch shipbuilders of ADM in Amsterdam and three pictures of the work have been loaned to the Leith Shipyards website by

This fine website is a digital history of shipbuilding in Amsterdam and is a fascinating read for anyone interested in shipbuilding.


The MV HERO going into dry dock for the major work of having a new "middle block" inserted to increase her length by 18.3 metres in 1976.



The ship has been split in half and is now ready for the "middle block" which has been pre-fabricated into one large "Super Block" ready to be lifted into place and welded up, a job that requires super accuracy that was controled by the Loftsman at the time.




The MV HERO now as a much larger ship of 132.8 metres Length Overall and with her tonnage increased to 4,493 Tonnes Gross and with a Dead Weight of 5,754 tonnes


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.




Print above was very kindly sent in to the website by Alex Grosset,

Who sailed on her many times as a young lad from Grimsby to Esbjerg many times with my Dad who worked for DFDS .

When onboard at a young age I was introduced to the Snoopy club which was a bar onboard and given a print on A3 card of the Hero on a map in the North Sea showing her runs with the inscription MV Hero, built by Robb Caledon Leith 1972.



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 j.d. davison 2015-08-20 16:06
Sir,i was one of the Engineers on the vessel that sad day,one of a few left,i have many photos, and a scrap book full of newspaper cuttings etc.

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