The History of Leith

January 7, 2011

M.V. “Kopara”

The motor ship ” Kopara,” owned by the Richardson Company of New Zealand, played a useful and colourful part in the war in the
Pacific.
For four years the ” Kopara ” had a lively career serving the American Forces in the Pacific. She made her first journey to Guadalcanal during the operations which opened^the Allied offensive in the Pacific, and while there came under heavy bombing, fortunately without injury. For this journey she was manned by a Richardson crew, under Captain Wallace, a deep-sea mariner who brought the vessel out from
Scotland.
After her first journey to Guadalcanal, the “Kopara” was taken over by the American authorities and manned by an American crew, plying regularly between Australian and New Zealand ports and the forward bases of the Allied Forces in the South Pacific. At one period the ” Kopara ” was reported lost, as the result of a convoy action in
which her companion ships were scattered to the four corners of the
compass by the threat of Japanese submarines. The American authorities actually reported her loss, but she later turned up unharmed.
The ” Kopara’s ” carrying capacity and other special features of her construction made her an ideal vessel for service in forward areas.
She was regarded so highly in fact by the American authorities that her
design has been copied and larger editions of the ” Kopara ” are now in
commission. Owing to her special lifting capacity with her big hatches,
electric winches, and big slings she was able to discharge her cargo
with the minimum of delay. She was reported as being the only vessel
that was able to discharge 1000 tons of cargo overnight at one period
of the hostilities against Japan.
Specially built for the coastal trade in New Zealand, the ” Kopara ”
was launched in 1938, and later loaded at Antwerp for her voyage out
to the Dominion. She lay in Antwerp at the time of the Munich crisis
in 1938, and the crisis had a marked effect upon the movement of ships
• from the port, numerous German vessels making hurried departures
for their home ports as the threat of war became more obvious.
The ” Kopara’s” cargo-carrying capacity was a feature which attracted much attention when she was introduced to the New Zealand
coastal trade, and her relatively high speed was another feature, which
must have appealed to the American authorities when they took her
over for Pacific duties. She has two holds of approximately 67,000
cubic feet of space, and her hatches were designed for easy and speedy handling of cargo.
Captain F. S. Bates, who formerly commanded the ” Kopara ” in
her coastal trading, is again in charge of the ship, which recently underwent an extensive overhaul and refitting preliminary to her return to ” civvies.”
M.V. ” Edina.” Whilst the ” Gothland ” was ensuring the safety of men and supplies across the North Atlantic, another ship of the Currie Line, the motor vessel ” Edina,” was taking part in the liberation of Europe.
It was a great thrill for the Captain and his men when, on the eve
of D-Day, while she was at her anchorage off the Mumbles, a Naval
vessel made fast alongside and Naval officers and captains of other ships came on board for an important conference. Captain Inglis of the
” Edina ” was appointed Commodore of the Swansea portion of the
fleet and then as Vice-Commodore after linking up with the main fleet.
All were given large envelopes with six impressive seals which were
not to be opened until ordered to do so. ” Edina ” was carrying aviation
petrol, but as the great convoy closed upon the Normandy beaches, all
risks were forgotten in the task of unloading cargo and getting away
again for the Bristol Channel to load again as quickly as possible.
Several such journeys were made in those first hectic weeks without
much incident, and then came the moment when the “Edina” was
directed to discharge at Barfleur. She nosed her way in and the master
was informed by war correspondents that his was the first Allied ship
to enter the port.
Two interesting coincidences marked the many journeys across
the Channel with petrol. Once the ” Edina ” developed engine trouble,
and although able to get home under her own power, she had as an
escort in case of further difficulty another ship from the Victoria Yards,
the ” Oriole.”

On another occasion she assisted in discharging a Polish ship which was ashore and damaged, and found that the salvage operations were in charge of the Leith vessel ” Foremost.” M.V. ” The Miller.” This vessel, built for E. Marriage & Son, Ltd., was pressed into service early in the war and took part in many of the stirring events off the South-East Coast.
She became a tender to the Thames balloon barrage, and later to the balloon barrage in Harwich Harbour. When this work was concluded, she served the Churchill forts erected on the sandbanks off the east coast, her hold accommodation having been fitted with large water tanks and other supply facilities for the men stationed on the forts.
A sister ship, the ” Golden Grain,” was lost through striking a mine near the Thames estuary.
M.V. ” Puriri.” This motor vessel, which was owned by the Anchor Line of New Zealand, went into service as a minesweeper in the South-East Asia theatre. She paid the penalty that all such vessels must risk : she struck a mine and was lost.
M.V. ” Underwood.” The ” Underwood ” was one of the merchant ships on the stocks at Leith when war broke out. Building to the direction of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, Ltd., she was taken over by the Ministry of War Transport on completion. Her enormous hatch opening of 96 ft. (with her sister ship, the ” Port Tauranga,” built three years earlier, the largest hatches on Lloyd’s Register), made her ideally suited for the transport of tanks, aircraft, guns, and other vital supplies to Russia.
During a voyage from the Thames to the Clyde, the convoy in which she was sailing was subjected to a particularly daring attack by E-boats. In misty weather the enemy craft lay close in shore near the Lizard, andjas the convoy passed, attacked it from the land and least-protected side. The ” Underwood ” was one of the vessels lost.

source-Leith Built Ships on War Service

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