The Goodwill Merchant was a steel motor coaster of 468gt. Built by E J Smit and Zonen, Westerbroek (Yard No 767) and launched on 7 September 1962. Her dimensions were 59.7m x 10.4m x 3.7m and she was powered by an 8cyl diesel engine of 1165 bhp.
The first indication of a problem for the Goodwill Merchant came with a radio distress call picked up by Wick Radio at 03.26am on 18th January, 1976 stating that the ship was aground on rocks on the west side of Fair Isle. The ship had been on a voyage from Grangemouth to Lerwick with a general cargo under the command of her captain, T Fekkes. She had run aground in calm weather presumably due to a navigational error. Within 15 minutes the Lerwick lifeboat was en route to the scene and the Fair Isle Rescue Brigade was also summoned. However the report from the ship was very vague and for the next six hours the lifeboat searched in vain for the location of the stranded ship.
As daylight dawned Captain Steve Jowett of a British Airways helicopter reported sighting the ship aground at Ness of Ireland on the west side of the Shetland mainland. At 10.35am Jowett reported his winchman, Brian Jones, had succeeded in plucking all eight crewmen from the wreck, leaving the ship clinging to the rocks. The helicopter landed at Sumburgh airport soon after and, although the crew were unhurt, the captain was taken to hospital for treatment for shock but later released. Aircraft over the area later in the day reported the ship had slipped of the rocks and was half submerged beneath the surface. By the end of the days she had slipped even deeper and only the mast remained visible. There was little hope of salvaging the valuable cargo that included a number of cars. The wreck was soon smashed to pieces due to its exposed position. In subsequent years the bell was recovered from the site which is now on display in the Shetland Museum. The broken remains of the ship lie down a steep sloping rock seabed in position 59°59.630’N, 001°20.717’W