We have another rare type of scale model cargo ship plan set here. This time, livestock carrier ships Rokita and Boruta are on the yard! The model ship plans are distributed on two sheets with an additional one.
Livestock carrier ships have specialized cargo holds, where the animals are kept during the voyage. The ship itself is like a floating stable, or lets say a farm. The holds must be ventilated, equipped with drainage systems and so on. To sum up, the animals have to be comfortable and stay healthy.
In 1961-62, Gdañsk Northern Shipyard built two ships for this purpose. They were named Rokita and Boruta. They were both designed as cargo ship type B475. They were 59.87m long, 9.6m wide. Her single 680HP engine could speed her up tp 11.4 knots. We are not sure if the horses onboard were added to this power specifications. 19 crew members were maintaining the ship.
In Polish Cargo Lines people who sailed on “Boruta” and “Rokita”, were called “cowboys”. Initially, few people wanted to work onboard these ships. But when they began to transport Russian horses – the line became very profitable for the sailors who trade goods and more and more people wanted to be a cowboy. The whole trip from the USSR to France and back lasted about two weeks. During the voyage, you could for example buy a few pairs of jeans in Zerssen near Kiel Canal, sell them later at a profit in Klaipeda, and earned rubles replaced again with a large “countershaft” in Zerssen for dollars. Russians were willing to buy coats and multi color writing pens.
Back to the ship: I found relation from the captain Stefan Lewandowsk:
The difficulty of “live cargo ship” consisted of, among others, that the “charge” was moving. In good weather, especially in the summer, there were no problems. It was worse in winter, when the top four or five of the ship is rocked. Horses then strongly in-stress which you can immediately sense the smell of their sweat. The final decision whether to go to sea, belonged to the captain. When the storm surprised us on the road, it was necessary to seek a port for shelter.
Once in this situation, I had to shelter in a smaller port where the maneuvers needed important engine power.
Harbor master asked me: “Sir, how much horses do you have?”
“Two hundred” I answered truthfully.
“Oh, it’s too weak engine” i heard in response.
It was, of course, live horses, because the motor had six hundred eighty. On the way back from Le Tréport ship sailed under the ballast, and the crew had to clean up the cargo holds. Then it was not so restrictive environmental legislation as it is today, so the horse manure was through a special door by simply washed away into the sea.
Both ships sailed in a small shipping routes to Western Europe from Poland. They sailed to Lübeck, Kiel, Antwerp and to French ports in the English Channel (La Manche canal if you like). They could carry 750 pigs, 173 horses or similar number of cows. The aging of ships and changing of operating conditions resulted in the decision to withdraw the ships from shipowner registry of the vessels.
These motor ships sailed under the Polish flag until 1974, when they were sold to an operator from Cyprus, DIGNITY MARITIME Co.. After this ROKITA sailed with a new name: ROBITA.
Development of a series of this construction was the series of small cargo ships type B 457, wchich replaced FLORA AND EMILIA (i attached blueprint drawings for some information).
Interesting fact about ship names:
ROKITA and BORUTA are the names of the devils found in Polish folk tales.
One of the legends about Rokita (and Boruta) says that Rokita together with Boruta they got drunk* in one of the pubs in Lodz. When the landlord did not want to sell them another pint of beer or wine, Rokita paid, but made thalars (money), which he paid, were so hot that the owner of the pub could not in any way catch the money with his hands
*Now i’m sure that they were from Poland 😉
We should all thank to Piotr Szadkowski from Poland for the plan and the stories that he presented us. He added more value to this site. We only made few changes to his article.