The 3 masted iron sailing ship Culzean was launched from the Port Glasgow yard of John Reid and Co Ltd (Yard No 4) on 14th November 1871. She measured 254.0′ x 40.0′ x 23.9′ and her tonnage was 1633 gross tons, 1572 net tons. Ordered by J Kerr and Co Ltd of Greenock and operated worldwide for this company until her loss in 1881.
Her final voyage was to result in a series of mishaps which had started during her long voyage from Calcutta to Dundee with a cargo of jute. She sailed from Dundee in the summer of 1881 and was on the return trip when she was caught in a severe gale in the English Channel on October 14th resulting in the loss her masts and other serious damage. She was towed into the Tyne for temporary repairs then on to Dundee where she unloaded her cargo. Her owners then arranged for her to be towed to Greenock for permanent repair. She left Dundee under tow by the Clyde Shipping Company tug Conqueror in late November with seventeen crew aboard and a local pilot, Captain Duncan. The decision to take a large sailing ship on such a long trip, under tow, without masts or sails and therefore unable to be controlled if the tow line was lost, was to be the subject of much debate later.
The weather on the trip was atrocious causing them to put into port a number of times. While making the hazardous passage through the Pentland Firth they had to run to Scrabster for shelter. Later, off Cape Wrath, the weather was so bad that the crew feared that she might break up but they made it to Stornoway where they again took refuge from the storms. When the weather moderated they set out once more but had to put into Tobermory when it deteriorated again. Finally, when the two ships reached the Sound of Jura on the evening of the 21st, another storm swept over them and after hours of labouring in huge seas and, as they struggled past Iron Rock, the hawser broke and the Culzean drifted off, helpless, into the night. It was the last that was seen of the ship, Captain Pirnie, his crew and the Dundee pilot Captain Duncan. As the storm lashed the Conqueror through the night Captain Morrison had to fight to save his own ship which he kept in position off the light at Iron Rock, head into the sea, until day break.
At first light they set off in search of the Culzean which they found and reported to be on the Jura coast, at Lang Point, underwater except for a small portion of her bow section. There was no sign of her crew. Wreckage was strewn along the shoreline and was washed ashore on the mainland coast opposite and on the MacCormaig Isles at the entrance to Loch Sween. The bodies of the crew also washed ashore at various locations around the Sound of Jura over the next few days and weeks.