This vessel was launched as the SS Sable from the yard of A & J Inglis Ltd., of Pointhouse in Glasgow (Yard No.294) on 29 March 1911. Built in steel to the order of G & J Burns of Glasgow it measured 195.2′ x 31.1′ x 13.0’ with tonnages at 687gt. / 280nt. The vessel was powered by triple expansion steam engine, manufactured by the builders which developed 124 nhp and powered a single screw. In 1922 the Sable was amalgamated into the fleet of Burns & Laird Lines of Glasgow and in 1929 her name was changed to Lairdselm under a company wide re-branding.
The Glasgow steamer Lairdselm sank near the mouth of Loch Ryan on Sunday 22nd December, 1929. She had sailed from Glasgow the previous day around 5pm with a cargo of 200 tons of diesel engine parts for Messrs Harland & Wolff of Belfast. As she headed south, the captain had problems with the trim of his vessel when the cargo began to shift and he decided to head for Loch Ryan. The Lairdselm arrived in Loch Ryan around 2am and anchored off the south end of Finnarts Bay.
Precisely what happened during the night is not known but, around 9:30am the next morning, the crew were roused by cries of “All hands on deck – take to the boats”. They quickly abandoned ship and rowed south for Cairnryan Lighthouse where they were helped ashore and provided with food by the local inhabitants.
The Lairdselm had developed a discernible list while at anchor which increased steadily until she finally heeled over and sank shortly after the crew had abandoned ship. The wreck lay close to the main shipping fairway in six fathoms and, as she only just broke the surface at low water, a buoy was positioned over the wreck by the Northern Lighthouse Board’s steamer Hesperus the following day. On the 9 January the Northern Lighthouse Board reported that the wreck was lying flat on its port side, 2 miles N/NW of Cairn Point Light with starboard side awash at low water.
The vessel had a value of around £4,000 which meant it was probably not a viable option to refloat the wreck although it was located in the main shipping fairway. However, the engine parts were worth around £20,000 which made it a more attractive proposition. The wreck was advertised for salvage and removal on the 4 January 1930, it is not clear if this aroused any interest in the marine salvage industry.
Minutes of meetings of the Glasgow Salvage Association in February and March 1930 suggest that as the costs of salvage were prohibitive, and that the work to make the wreck safe for navigation would be taken forward by the Northern Lighthouse Board. A contract was placed with a James Gush of Greenock in February 1930 for the removal of the wreck and recovery of the diesel machinery. However it is thought that, after a certain amount of salvage of both the wreck and her cargo, the remainder was dispersed. Although not positively identified as such, the authors are of the opinion that the area of foul ground noted by the Admiralty on their charts centred in position 55° 00.270N, 005° 03.710’W marks the remains of the Lairdselm as it cross refers with the reported position of her sinking.