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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Sail Training Ship MERCATOR

It has been some time since I have been able to spend anytime on the Blog or the website, but happy to let you all know about the latest developments on another old ship built at Leith.

New lease of life for the last ship built at the famous Ramage & Ferguson shipyard, at Leith, Scotland.


Launched from the Leith Shipyard in December 1931 she was Ship No 269 according to the official shipbuilders list, she was an order from the Belgian Government for a 3 masted Barqentine for use as a sail training ship to be used by the Belgian Navy.

A barquentine is a sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main, mizzen and any other masts.
Ideal for sail training along with the advantage of having a smaller crew than a full rigged ship, they are capable of very good performance before the wind, along with the ability to sail relatively close to the wind.

The MERCATOR is a very striking looking ship that required extensive work after a long period of lay-up at the port of Ostend.

MERCATOR seen here at her berth in Ostend, Belgium
(Photograph from the official Mercator website)

Her extensive re-fit was carried out in Ostend, Belgium by
IDP Shipyard  (Industries des pĂȘcheries)

They did the masts and the rigging a few years ago. While last year they carried out repairs, cleaning and panting of the hull along with a complete refit of her inside, with the cost of the whole operation costing around 3.4 million Euro. She is now back at her berth in Ostend open to the public, who as you will see in the video below came out in great numbers to welcome the old Leith built ship home.

Return of the Mercator to Ostend

If you happen to be in Ostend and wish to be shown around the ship and the surrounding area then we would recommend that you contact Joris Surmont, who is a very knowledgeable guide working in Ostend with very good English as well, you can find more details of his guided tours below, just click on the link to be taken right there.

You can also visit the official MERCATOR museum site here at

She is a testimony to the men who built her at Leith, now eighty five (85) years after she first entered the waters of the Firth of Fourth and still going strong, she is supported by a marvellous organisation along with many volunteers who will ensure she goes on for many more years.

Saturday, 11 February 2017


The SS Gothland
“I spent some time as a young steward on this vessel,, and much of the time pulling men out of the north Atlantic and unfortunately attending their burial the next day This ship survived the war due, to its small tonnage. It is my belief that the (new) Artic Medal be awarded to its past crew members. The British historic organisation responsible for the awards is sadly and seemingly unaware of this vessel proud war history” John Hunter an old codger born in Leith

The GOTHLAND underway

 For more on the brave tales of the men who served on the rescue Ship SS GOTHLAND

The above was sent into the website by John Hunter now in Australia but originally from Leith. With more comment below, and indeed the crews of such vessels deserve all the praise possible and any medals going, the fact that someone has to contact through an unofficial website is a disgrace and perhaps something the Edinburgh Council members would wish to take up on there behalf, after all they are always looking into my website, although never any offer to pay anything towards the upkeep, so no surprises there.

 The inside of the SS GOTHLAND converted with extra bunks to take on rescued seafarers from the ships sunk while in convoy during World War Two, many a survivor would have been glad of such a bunk.

The above photograph is from the Imperial War Museum showing the ship while on resue practice sometime in February 1943

Rescue practise in the Clyde in 1943 in another Imperial War Museum photograph taken during practise exercises and showing how they would bring a survivor back on board, of course this was carried out for the camera in a calm sea, these men had to do the same in all kinds of weather with the constant threat that the German U-Boats may also have them in there sights, after sinking many of the ships in convoy.

At the rear of South Leith Church flies the Red Ensign of a courageous little ship that took part in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War. Remarkable not for the great battles that it took part in but for saving men’s life’s at Sea.

They should all get medals, every last man who served in this dangerous mission of saving life at sea during wartime.

Monday, 6 February 2017

On the Beach at 47 years old

As with the vast majority of ships built they all eventually end up at the breakers yard (some may be lucky and get restored or preserved for the future generations to wander around and wonder at the workmanship) and is the case with the MV SPEEDWAY Ship No 507

With the name of
AHMAD N. (IMO 7011462) she was beached at plot 29 Alang 5th February 2017

Almost 47 years to the day she was launched from the Leith Shipyards at that time going under the name of Robb Caledon she was launched on 18th Feb 1970 and run onto the beach to be broken up after a very long working life.

I wonder just how many Chinese built ships of today will still be around in another 47 years time, not very many would be a resonable answer if any. 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Awe the very best for 2017

Let's wish for a fair wind and calm waters ahead for all our many readers in 2017

"Happy New Year"

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Classic Ships - RMS AQUITANIA

As we approach the new year of 2017 we continue with a look back the way at some of the classic ships built not only at Leith but all over the world, as shipbuilding is a truly global industry now.
It is debatable if we could feature a finer vessel in this classic ship series than the Liner that was to be known as "The Ship Beautiful" the RMS AQUITANIA built and launched at the John Brown Shipbuilding yard on the Clyde in Scotland.

If ever a ship deserved her given title it was the grand old AQUITANIA a vessel that was to serve through two world wars and survive is a real testament to the shipbuilding skills on the River Clyde.

The AQUITANIA on the stocks at John Browns at Clydebank almost ready to launch in 1913

RMS AQUITANIA was ordered by the Cunard Line and designed by Leonard Peskett. and built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland.
She was launched on 21 April 1913 and sailed on her maiden voyage to New York on 30 May 1914.

The RMS AQUITANIA was the third in Cunard Line's "grand trio" of express liners, preceded by RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania, and was the last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner.

Widely considered one of the most attractive ships of her time, AQUITANIA earned the nickname "The Ship Beautiful".

In her 36 years of service, AQUITANIA survived military duty in both world wars and was returned to passenger service after both the First World War and the Second World War.

AQUITANIA held the record for the longest service career of any 20th-century express liner until broken by Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) in 2004, became the longest serving Cunard Line vessel.

You will find a great many more classic ships photographs at the website, the collection is being added to continuously, so why not check it out. 

Friday, 11 November 2016



2 minutes of your time at 11:00 GMT

Stuff FIFA an organisation now so far removed from the people who have put them in the Ivory Tower, an organisation for football which should stick to football and sorting out the corruption within, who are they to tell anyone when or how they can wear a poppy of remembrance in the oldest football international game in the world, between two countries who gave the game and so much more to the world.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Good for Clyde Shipbuilding

Work on building eight Type 26 frigates at Clyde shipyards will start next summer, the defence secretary has said.
Michael Fallon said the date for cutting the first steel would help secure new investment and safeguard hundreds of skilled jobs until 2035.
He also announced that a contract for two new offshore patrol vessels would be signed shortly.
This will secure jobs before the Type 26 frigate work is fully under way, he said.
An £859m deal to build the ships on the Clyde was signed in February 2015.
But the project has been scaled back and hit by repeated delays, with concerns that jobs could be lost as a result.

'Value for money'

During a visit to the Govan area of Glasgow, Mr Fallon said: "Backed by Britain's rising defence budget, the Type 26 Programme will deliver a new generation of cutting-edge warships for our Royal Navy at best value for taxpayers.
"The UK government's commitment today will secure hundreds of high-skilled shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde for at least two decades and hundreds more in the supply chain across Britain."
The defence secretary also announced a £100m contract with the consortium MBDA to deliver the Sea Ceptor missile defence system for the ships.
Gary Smith of the GMB union said it was "fantastic news" for the upper Clyde shipyards - though he said the UK government had not delivered on all its promises.
He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We were told there was to going to be a 'frigate factory' built on the Clyde that would allow us to deliver ships more efficiently.
"It would perhaps have given us the facility to build ships that could be exported.
"And Michael Fallon in truth was dragged kicking and screaming to this announcement today after we exposed the fact that his government did plan to move some of the work originally planned for the Clyde, down south.
"But cutting through it all great, news for the workforce and great news for the economy in greater Glasgow as well."
The promise of new Royal Navy orders to secure the Clyde shipbuilding industry was made before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.
The number of planned new frigates was later scaled back from 13 to eight, although the MoD retained the option to build five smaller and cheaper general-purpose vessels.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ships will be built by BAE Systems at the company's Glasgow yards in Govan and Scotstoun.
For more see the BBC website at

Of course that is from the official press release which will not mention all the Government interference and dodging that has gone on over the past 18 months or so and the word on the street is that they even intended to shift some of the work if not all of it down South, but nothing new in that, it would appear that for now at least the shipbuilders (the few that remain) will have work for the foreseeable future which has to be regarded as a good thing, although the number of ships has been cut from lucky "13" down to eight this is still a very large project which now has the few remaining yards around Britain all crying out for their bit of the pie.

This may or not come about with a release of news as it gets closer to election time that the 5 remaining smaller ships will indeed be built elsewhere, for now it is looking good for shipbuilding in the two remaining main shipyards on a river that could at one time boast of close to Fifty (50) shipyards on this relitivly small stretch of water.