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 HMS GOOSANDER - Yard No 513 - Boom Defence Vessel - M.O.D. (Navy) - Built 1973

Leith Shipyards

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HMS GOOSANDER - Yard No 513 - Boom Defence Vessel - M.O.D. (Navy) - Built 1973



 The flag of the Royal Maritime

 Auxiliary Service (RMAS)


(photo credit unknown)


Owners    MoD (Navy)
Registered     Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Boom Defence Vessel Launched    12/04/1973
      Commissioned    10/09/1973
Ship Details          
Length Overall     Launch Details    
Length B.P.    48.8 metres Weather    
Beam    12.2 metres Time to Water    
Depth Mld     5.5 metres      
Draught    3.35 metres      
G.R.T.    923 tonnes      
Compliment     58 Officers and Men      
Engines   English Electric Paxman type 16 RPHM turbocharged diesel producing 660 Bhp      
Props    Slack & Parr 3 blade c-p-type      
Speed    10 knots      
Other known names   2006-UTEC Surveyor    
Current Status    Still active as far as we are aware, believed to be in the middle of a legal wrangle tied up in Malta    

Content on RMAS GOOSANDER 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, 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.

RMAS GOOSANDER (A164) was part of the same order from the Admiralty which saw HMS HERALD built at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon (Henry Robb)

She was a Mooring and Salvage/Boom Defence vessel of the "Wild Duck Class" and she was built at the same time as her sister ship "Pochard" with both ships being built on the same slipway. As she was an order for the MoD (Navy) her build was carried out in the Imperial measurement system as the Navy had not changed to the metric system which had came into effect in the U.K. in 1970.

As part of the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service she was to be based in her home port of Rosyth before moving to Greenock in the 1990's, this capable little ship was designed and built to fulfil many different roles in peace time and in War a real working ship.

With her two "Bow Horns" she was capable of raising 400 tons from the seabed over her bows.

With a crew of 58 she was also to play a part in the Falklands War along with a few other Leith Built Ships she was part of the large Task Force that eventually re-took the Islands back for Britain from the invading Argentine Forces in 1982 she was in fact the smallest vessel in the fleet.

She was part of an attempt to save a badly damaged Argentine Submarine the "Santa Fe" in South Georgia but due to very heavy weather the attempt was abandoned.

RMAS GOOSANDER was laid up for some time after this at Brooke Marine in Lowestoft, England before being sold to commercial interests in the 1990's and she was to ply her trade doing survey and salvage work in the waters off the West African coast.

In 2006 she was re-named UTEC Surveyor



The Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service used to form the major part of the Marine Services organisation which existed to support the Royal Navy. It was a branch of the Ministry of Defence (Naval).

It provided a versatile, flexible and cost effective service which included harbour tugs and pilots to assist ships of the Fleet when berthing and un-berthing; delivering fuel, water and victualling stores with purpose built vessels and craft to ships in harbour; transporting ammunition; ferrying personnel to and from ships at anchor or secured to buoys, and providing specially designed vessels for other tasks such as moorings and salvage, torpedo recovery , underwater research and development and degaussing.

All RMAS vessels had a buff coloured superstructure and black hulls with an all round white riband at deck level.

For more on the RMAS



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.

GOOSANDER Story as told by Charlie Toms

Hi my name is Charles William Toms my first experience of the wild duck class started on the Mandarin we went on a job off south west Wales with a view to buying the vessel but were not successful in purchasing  it, it was bout  by a group of divers for a salvage job .More on the mandarins fate later , attention then turns to the Gargany  which came up for disposal in pen brook dock a company was quickly formed by the name Vesuvius shipping and was successful in tendering for the vessel .I worked on her in pen brook dock for several months to get her in to class under the St Vincent flag ,then we brought her back to Penzance where we worked on a contract with cable and wireless removing redundant sub sea telegraph cables .The job went very well and the Golden Eye came up for sale in Dundee so we went to look at it with a view to buying her as well but this did not happen .At about the same time we heard that the Goosander was coming up for disposal in Portsmouth so we went and had a look at her in the royal dock yard she was moored under the Bow of the Ark Royal at the time we looked over her and put in a bid ,the bid was successful .By the time the bid was excepted I had left Vesuvius shipping and was working for aqua tec on the tug that they had just taken over and we went up to Portsmouth and towed her back to Penzance where she lay for some time. 

To be continued. 


Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

The following photographs have been kindly donated to to the website by the RMAS association and are shown here with permission for more information on the RMAS please visit the website







RMAS GOOSANDER tied up at the quayside












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 #7 Tam Scott 2016-07-11 17:34
I was part of the crew who carried out the salvage of the Argintine submarine Santa Fe , as one of the younger members of the crew I was looked after by the older members and always look back with fondness and will never forget the comeradery we shared.
-1 #6 lorraine shepherd 2016-07-07 15:00
My Sons father worked as a chef on the Goosander his name was Walter Menzies he sadly passed away un 1984
0 #5 alex mcgowan 2015-06-25 14:18
my young brother jimmy mcgowan served as cook on her during the falklands war .
0 #4 Mike Waight 2015-03-11 12:07
Goosander was until recently called UTEC SURVEYOR and was doing survey work for the oil industry. Her bow apron was altered to cope with small seismic wires and she had more deck equipment fitted. She was registered in Kingston (St Vincent & Grenadines). No idea where she is now. Wayne I knew your step-father Malcolm back in the 1980s.
0 #3 Wayne Stewart 2015-03-08 00:04
My father James Stewart and future step father Malcolm Thurlow both served on The Goosander during its Falklands War mission and longer I spent many hours as a child on board and would love to know if she still sails.
0 #2 Mike Waight 2013-05-27 13:13
I sailed on Goosander as Mate and Master when we dealt with moorings and buoys of all types for RN, RAF and other government departments. Her principal Master was Alistair MacGregor who belonged to the western highlands but stayed in Fife while he was her skipper. He was also Master when she went down to the South Georgia Islands to salvage and re-sink in deeper water the Argentinian submarine Santa Fe.

Contrary to what it says on this site the Goosander was based at Rosyth until transferred to Greenock in the early 1990s and thence her disposal.
0 #1 Neil Mackie 2012-09-25 20:48
I recall as a young Dockyard Apprentice at Rosyth Royal Dockyard in the early 80's being on board during underwater explosion trials in the River Forth, when she served with the Admiralty Research Establishment. A totally frightening yet exillirating experience, feeling the deck rippling under your feet!.

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