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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 HMS HERALD - Yard No 512 - Ocean Survey Vessel - M.O.D. (Navy) - Built 1974
 
 

Leith Shipyards

 
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HMS HERALD - Yard No 512 - Ocean Survey Vessel - M.O.D. (Navy) - Built 1974
 HMS-Herald-Ship-No-512

uk-royal-navy-flag
 HMS HERALD one of the Royal Navy "Hecla" class Ships 
 HMS HERALD in 1974
(photo credit unknown)
 
 
Owners    MoD Navy
           
Registered     Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Oceanographic Research/Survey Ship Launched    04/10/1973
      Commissioned    31/10/1974
Ship Details          
Length Overall    260' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    235' 0" Weather    
Beam    49' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Moulded     25' 9"      
Draught          
G.R.T.    2,533      
DWT    800      
Compliment          
Engines   Three 12YCZ (Ventura) main engines, each rated 1,165 bhp at 1,250 rpm, to power her main electric motor and two 6YJXZ auxiliaries      
Props    1      
Speed    14 knots      
           
Other known names   2001 Somerville    
           
Current Status   Broken up in India 2004    
Content on HMS HERALD will be added as and when available. 
HMS-HERALD-Ship-No-512-1995
HMS HERALD underway in 1995. 
HMS HERALD seen here underway in this photograph sent to me some time ago, by her then Commanding Officer I. M. Bartholomew.
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, in the case of a ship for the Royal Navy, she would also have to go through her commissioning trials before being excepted in to the senior service.
HMS Herald was a fine looking ship built in the Leith shipyards of Henry Robb, she was part of a three ship order at the time for the Ministry of Defence (Navy) She had a long career with the Royal Navy and was also involved in the Falklands war as a hospital ship. The ship was fitted with sonar and also had a complex arrangement of bow thruster doors, which would open up into the hull when required, although time was to prove that this design was not the most practical. She was also on the stocks for some time as a lot of her electronics had to be updated and replaced due to the fact that this was during the so called "cold war" and they yard was forever cutting out bulkheads to allow new and more sophisticated machinery to be fitted in place.
HMS HERALD also had a full teak deck fitted on her main deck, a fantastic piece of work into which ships datum plates had to be fitted, her superstructure was all Aluminium and was fitted to the steel deck with a bolting arrangement to prevent the two dis-similar metals creating an effect called osmosis, she was an interesting ship to work on.
 
H.M.S.Herald.01
(Photo credit unknown)
One of the Hecla Class survey ships.
HMS HERALD was an order from the M.o.D. Navy for a Hydrographic Survey ship to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon.
She seemed to take forever to build and she was on the stocks for a couple of years, this was mainly due to changes that were forced on the yard by the navy team that was in attendance at the yard, no sooner would a deck level be complete and along would come the navy and insist that this deck or bulkhead would have to come out or be moved due to all the constantly changing gear that she was being fitted with.
The HERALD was also fitted with a bow thrust door this was a sliding door port and starboard which could be raised and lowered when required, the bow thrust doors were to give a streamlined shell when lowered and sealed in position.
This was one of the first jobs I worked on in the Loft when told to report to one of the journeymen a certain Peter Rennie who was laying out the doors full size on the loft floor, and I remember going out to look at this mass of lines going every where and Peter asking me if I knew what I was looking at “my reply was no” and he replied to me that neither did he, now to get more than two sentences out of Peter was an accomplishment but what this man did not know about lofting just wasn’t worth knowing. And so the work started all done in the Imperial inch. In further talks about the bow thrust doors much later while in correspondence with one of HERALDS Commanders he informed me that they (The navy) had got so fed up with the problems caused by the doors that they eventually just got them removed and the bow thruster tunnel was then faired into the shell. Don’t get me wrong they were some bit of design work and also a tremendous job to fabricate, I am not 100% certain as it was some time ago but seem to recollect that the doors were pre-fabricated by Brown Brothers Ltd of Edinburgh a company well known for the supply of things for ships such as stabilisers and such, they would have been supplied with the developed shell plates and they would have then fabricated the stiffening of the doors along with all the hydraulics and seals etc, the finished doors would then be returned to the shipyard for fitting into the bow.
But to expect these heavy fabricated doors (They were a few tons each in weight) working on hydraulics to be able to seal after use in some of the worst sea conditions to be found in the World for more than 20 years, was perhaps expecting just a bit too much.
I never did fully understand the design of the doors and they did even back then seem a bit over the top for what they were intended to do.
I also made a one tenth scale model of her stern and had to develop out her cant frames as she had a nice rounded stern, the kind that you don’t see anymore today, much too complicated and expensive to construct so now they go for flat slab transom sterns, nice and easy to fabricate.
She had other different build methods used on her as she also had an all Aluminium superstructure which gave some good shapes at the time but it was filthy stuff for the men to work with, and as a matter of interest the plate edges when welded should be clean and free of any grease or dirt which will contaminate the weld, leading to weld fractures and such, never a good thing to be happening while a ship is at sea and just bad working practise, most of the plates had a seal on them along the edges to help with this, although I have since worked in places where they have not bothered about this and just weld up the Aluminium without any thought for cleaning the plate edges as this would take time and is never in the build budget of course,she also had a helicopter hanger at the after end of the main deck.
HMS HERALD also had fitted a very fine teak deck which took the shipwrights ages as there was so much of it, but what a cracking job they made of it and it just looked like a deck on a fancy Liner when they had finished. It almost felt criminal to be lining off and fitting ships datum plates on this deck.
She was the first ship that I worked on that had a jail built into the foc’sl just aft of the huge chain locker, so anyone in there would know exactly when the ship had arrived and dropped anchor with a few thousand yards of anchor chain rattling past there head.
I always thought that she was a fine looking ship, and she was duly launched from the Berth 1 (East) the yard by this time only having 3 berths to build and launch ships from. This was down from the 9 that they had at the end of the Second World War.
So she slide into the sea down the sliding ways on the 4th of Oct 1973 and was tied up at the fitting out basin to be completed.
Sea trials commenced on the 28th Aug 1974 in the Firth of Forth, and HMS HERALD was formally accepted on 31st of October. After commissioning in Portsmouth on the 22nd of November, she undertook a shake down cruise in the Bay of Biscay, followed by a work up prior to Christmas.
 

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.
 
 H.M.S
 
 HMS HERALD POWER PLANT.
 
Four ships were supplied with the same engines supplied by Paxman. HMS Hecla (A133), HMS Hecate (A137), and HMS Hydra (A144) were built by Yarrow & Co of Glasgow in 1965-66. HMS Herald (H138) was built by Robb Caledon and completed in 1974.
Each ship had-Three 12YCZ (Ventura) main engines, each rated 1,165 bhp at 1,250 rpm, providing power for the main Electric motor and two 6YJXZ auxiliaries, per ship.
venturaengine
The Paxman Ventura engine similar to the one's fitted into HMS HERALD she had three of them.
(Photo from the Paxman history website)
The British Royal Navy was an important customer for the Ventura. Four Hydrographic survey vessels HMS Herald, HMS Hecate, HMS Hydra and HMS Hecla, were each equipped with three 12 cylinder Venturas for their diesel-electric main propulsion and two 6 cylinder Venturas driving auxiliary gensets. Early Type 22 Frigates each had four 16 cylinder Venturas for electrical power generation (12 cylinder Valentas were used for the Batch 3 Type 22s).
 
 
 
Signals From the Falklands

Signals From the Falklands

As John Winton, the best and most authoritative writer on currant naval matters, says in the foreword to this book 'The Navy has never been well known for its flair for publicity....Again and again during the Falklands War it seemed to me that the chances of giving the Navy a 'chuck-up' were being fumbled...so when the ships began to come home I let it be known that I was going to compile a book on the Navy's part in the Falklands'. The response was overwhelming and this, sadly, is is only a skimming from the cream of the response to his appeals Nevertheless it gives, without a doubt, as vivid an impression as we are likely to have of the feelings and experiences of those of all ranks and trades who served with the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary on that brief but remarkably successful campaign. Some of the contributors, like the aptly named Sam Salt will be familiar to many; others are not well known. Individuals though it may seem to give pride of place to any one contribution on an anthology such as this, it must be said that the words of Reverend Charles Stewart do stand out. In trying to resolve the virtually insoluble dilemma between 'Love Thy Neighbour' and 'Justifiable War' he succeeds where more famous theologians have often failed. All who served on board any ship which 'went south' in that strange nut epic endeavour in 1982 must be grateful to John Winton for having compiled this lasting tribute to tier bravery, and perhaps more characteristics, their abiding sense of humour.


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 following photographs are from Flight Commander Al Cole who kindly sent them in and they show the Heralds Wasp Helicopter while on a stop in Ghana circa 1978.
 
Leading Photographer Mulholland with Herald's Flight Commander Al Cole scowling at the natives at Cape Coast (note the Survey badge and 'Herald's Angels' painted on the nose)
 
 
Starting the rotors again was usually a bit difficult but we never got anyone with the tail rotor!
 
The following is a condensed version of a booklet sent to me some time ago by the then Commanding Officer of HMS HERALD  I. M. Bartholomew, Commander Royal Navy, on the occasion of HMS HERALD celebrating 21 years of service in the Royal Navy in 1995.
(If the Commander should see this would he be so good to contact the website)
 
Booklet
 
HMS HERALD had a distinguished service life starting with her survey work in and around the British Isles, and in particular with regard to support of the offshore oil industry, she worked in the Mediterranean, West Africa and the Persian Gulf where in 1979 she evacuated British and foreign nationals from Iran.
After serving as a hospital ship during the Falklands campaign, HMS HERALD was converted to the Ice Patrol Ship role, and worked in the South Atlantic between 1983-87.
Halfway through her 1988 refit, it was decided that the ship be converted to undertake the MCM (Mine Counter Measure) Command and Support role, and she deployed to the Gulf in that role for 15 consecutive months in 1989-90.
In late February 1991, at the climax of the Gulf War, she was in the van of the naval forces assembled of Kuwait.
She then reverted back to her survey role in the Atlantic Ocean conducting oceanographic and geophysical surveys.
HMS HERALD made a significant contribution to national and coalition naval operations in peace and war and proved to be a very adaptable ship.
 
 HMS HERALD from above (photo credit unknown)
 
 
 For more on HMS HERALD History see next pages.
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Comments   

 
+1 #9 John Graney 2016-01-01 11:45
Al. I remember putting in the site at Cape coast when our arrival by air caused such a stir in the two nearby schools that I got a lift from a friendly local to the town police station to get some help to keep the kids back from the helicopter when landing or depositing under-slung loads. My abiding memory of taking out the site at Achowa (near Bushua Beach) by land was the Ghana Navy leading seaman/driver, walking out of the bush with a big grin on his face and a fridge balanced on his head!

John
Quote
 
 
0 #8 Al Cole Lt RN 2015-12-25 10:21
I was HERALD's Flight Commander from November 1977 to July 1978. For the majority of my time with her the ship was carrying out a survey of the coast from Accra to Takoradi and the Flight's main task was to deploy and support the Decca Hi-fix sites at Cape Coast, Sharma and Achowa. Having never served with the Survey Navy before I was somewhat surprised when early en-route to Ghana uniforms were pretty much abandoned and everyone changed into what I can only describe as 'pirate rig.' Towards the very end of our deployment my Wasp (XS542) developed a tail rotor problem and was cleared for one-flight-only , which of course meant all we could do was the flight back to Portland on our return. On briefing the Captain (Cdr 'Hurricane' Hearsey) about this his response was "you deployed all the Hi-fix sites you'd better work out a way to get them all back on board!" We managed this by borrowing trucks from the Ghanaan Navy, engaging native porters and carring all the gear back to Takoradi!
Quote
 
 
0 #7 Ian J. Strange 2015-04-22 12:31
I am trying to track down Flt Lt John Knowles who was the pilot of HMS Herald Wasp helicopter. This enquiry is to do with the finding of the Argentine Skyhawk that crashed on South Jason Island in the 1982 conflict. I believe John Knowles made the discovery. Can anybody help please
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+1 #6 Roberto Leandro 2015-01-02 03:59
I was brazilian liaison officer of HMS Herald in december 1992 when the ship were in Rio de Janeiro. Her captain was Capt. Robert Alan Mark. Good ship, good crew, good times.
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0 #5 Mike Claydon 2014-10-11 20:11
I joined HMS Herald Engine Room Artificer ERA in Leith early 1974 as part of first commission. Served through trials and service until 1977. I left as CERA soon after the El Tambo cattle ship fire, where as Chief of the out of ship fire party we fought the fire,a long cold and wet night, I seem to remember. As for the infamous bow doors I spent many a hour in the flat - hammers, crow bars etc our conclusion - nice doors - shame about the operating equipment design. Great work with the hydrographic dept - Great ship, sad to leave her.
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0 #4 Dave Siggers 2014-04-15 20:31
I joined HMS Herald as it's Chief Engineroom Artificer (CERA) when she was Portsmouth dockyard for a small refit in November 1975. Whilst carrying out trials on the centre Diesel Generator it over sped and the DC Open Coil Generator disintegrated spraying copper all round the engineroom. Luckily nobody was injured but it meant we had to run on two main generators for our workup at Portland. I was promoted to Fleet Chief in June 1976 and was drafted to Portland as a Sea Rider. A lovely ship to run as a CERA but her water compensating stabilizer system left a lot to be desired.
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0 #3 Lester May Lt Cdr RN 2012-10-18 21:49
The photo of a hospital ship at Gibraltar is HMS Hecla not HMS Herald (the single red cross on the bridge + the davits are the clue to identity). I was pusser of HMS Hydra and we sailed south with HMS Herald in Apr 1982 and neither ship stopped at Gibraltar. HMS Hecla, on the other hand, was converted to the hospital ship role in Gibraltar (the other two in Portsmouth).
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0 #2 Gordon Reidie 2012-01-01 10:29
I worked on the Herald as an apprentice , Lovely ship inside , although we all called them boats then .I vaguely remember working in the captains cabin , I also worked on the 'chart table' as it was being made in the workshop , my journeyman then was Johnny Waugh . :-)
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0 #1 kampush 2011-03-25 07:17
Hej.

Does anyone know where I might find some technical drawings of the ship? I have to built a model of it.
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