Wick Coastguard Rescues. 


Leith coaster - Servus 

As reported in the Scottish Daily Express - 8 December 1959

Please Note - this happened AFTER the George Robb.

Station Officer Eric Campbell


"New SOS - 9 More Adrift."

The killer gale which has already claimed 13 lives was last night driving another helpless ship with nine men on board on to the barren, rocky Caithness coast. She is the 360 ton Leith coaster Servus, on a passage from Leith to Kirkwall with coal.

Late last night she was drifting rapidly shorewards at the mercy of mountainous seas, whipped up by an 80 mile an hour gale, only five miles off Ord of Caithness, between Helmsdale and Wick. The spot is only 30 miles from Duncansby Head where the Aberdeen trawler George Robb went down with the loss of all 12 hands early yesterday (7th December 1959)

Cromarty and Buckie lifeboats, after a 30-mile dash from their bases were standing by the stricken ship as she was pounded nearer and nearer the rocks beneath the 200ft high cliffs along the Ord of Caithness, by the south-easterly gale.

Helmsdale life-saving crew of 15 raced north when they heard the tow-line between the Servus and the fishery cruiser Scotia had parted, and the Scotia had fired her last rocket in attempt to re-connect. All day the Scotia had battled to bring the Servus, crippled by a broken propeller shaft, to safety.

Coastguards along the Moray Firth anxiously plotted the Servus's course, watching her move closer and closer into danger. The Servus radioed for help at 9.00 a.m. yesterday (Monday 7th December 1959), 25 miles north of Buckie. Her captain, James Pierce, of Aberdeen, said she had broken a propeller shaft and was drifting. The Scotia was first on the scene and managed to get a line aboard.

It broke several times during the day as the Scotia battled the gale. And then at dusk, with the wind and seas still rising, the line parted for the last time. There were no more rockets left to attempt the reconnection. All ships in the area were alerted and the trawler Aberdeen Progress also sped to the scene. A month ago the Aberdeen Progress safely shepherded two smaller boats into harbour during a gale.

Two more ships were in trouble in the North Sea last night. Life-saving teams from Fraserburgh and Rattray Head raced to the shore at St. Combs when an unknown ship was reported ashore. Peterhead and Fraserburgh lifeboats had been alerted earlier to go to the ship's assistance when flares were seen, but they were unable to leave harbour because of the weather.

Said a Peterhead coastguard: "We don't know yet what the ship is. But we are making immediate rescue plans."

At the same time, the converted German sailing ship Merkur signalled: "Need immediate assistance." Her distress signals were answered by Norddeich radio, West Germany. The 116 ton Merkur, built in 1910 and powered by an auxiliary oil engine, gave her position as 20 miles off Brora and 14 miles south of the Ord of Caithness.


Further stories of the Servus can be read (with photo's) as reported by:
the "Press and Journal" newspaper     Back to Wick Rescue's page


Home Page


Go Back One Screen

Top Of Page

Coastguard Home Page
Sign the Guest Book Click here to E-Mail me

Home Objectives Coastguard Home Bibliography Royal Navy Home Webmaster   What's New Site Map My Thanks
50th Anniversary Memorial of George Robb Disaster.
Then and Now Winners 150th Anniversary Station History
COCK'PATH Cock'path
Then and Now