6th January – wartime shipping losses

1917: Beaufront. Built 1915 by Dobson, Newcastle. Owner J Ridley & Son, 1,720 tons. En route from Bilbao to Tees with cargo of iron ore. Torpedoed and sunk off Finistere by German submarine U-82. No casualties.

1917: Ville du Havre. Built 1904 by Atel. et Chant. de France. Owner Cie Havraise Peninsular. French cargo ship, attacked and sunk north west of Cape Villano by German submarine U-48.

spenser_181918: Spenser. Built 1910 by Armstrong, Whitworth. Owner Lamport & Holt, 4,186 tons. En route from Buenos Aires to Liverpool with general cargo. Attacked and sunk by German submarine U-61, Captain Dieckmann, St George’s Channel. No casualties.

1918: Halberdier. Built 1915 by Ropners. Owner Fisher, Renwick, 1,049 tons. En route from Manchester to London with a general cargo. Attacked and sunk by U-61, Captain Dieckmann, St George’s Channel. 5 lost.

1918: Gascony. Built 1908 by Craggs, Middlesborough. Owner David MacIver, 3,133 tons. Attacked and sunk by UC-75, Captain  Lohs, 10 miles SSE of Owers light vessel. No casualties.


1918: Dagny. Built 1901 by W Gray, Hartlepool. Owner Dampsk. Heimdal, 1,220 tons. En route from Port Talbot to Bordeaux with a cargo of coal. Danish vessel, torpedoed and sunk in the Bay of Biscay by German submarine U-93, Captain Gerlach. 2 lost.

1918: Harry Luckenbach. Built 1881, W Gray, Hartlepool. Owner Luckenbach,2,798 tons. En route from Penarth. An American tanker, attacked and sunk in the Bay of Biscay by German submarine U-93, Captain Gerlach. 8 casualties.


5th January – wartime shipping losses

1917: Allie. Built in 1899 by Harkess, Middlesborough. Owned by Stone & Rolfe, 1,139grt. She was en route from Swansea to Bordeaux with a cargo of copper sulphate, when she was sunk 10 miles NW of Bouée Baleines by German submarine UB-39, Heinrich Küstner. There were no casualties.

1917: Hudworth. Built 1916 by Blyth Shipbuilding. Owned by Trechmann Bros., 3,966grt. En route from Karachi to Hull with a cargo of barley and seed. Sunk by the German submarine U-35, Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière, 94 miles ESE from Malta. There were no casualties.

1918: Knightsgarth. Built 1905 by Raylton Dixon. Owned by R & JH Rea, 2,889grt. En route from Lough Swilly to Barry. Torpedoed off Rathlin  Island by the German submarine U-91, Alfred von Glasenapp, 5 miles WNW from Bull Point, Rathlin Island. 2 persons were lost.

1918: Rio Claro. Built 1904 by Doxfords, Sunderland. Owner Petersen & Co., 3,687grt.  Torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean by German submarine U-63, Captain Hartwig, en route from Leghorn to Cartagena. Curiously, the after portion was refloated in March 1919, a new forward end was in built 1920 and the ship was put back in service.

war-baron1918: War Baron. Built 1917 by North West Steel, Portland, Oregon. Operated by The Shipping Controller, 6,240grt. En route from Southampton to Barry in ballast, was sunk by the German submarine U-55, Wilhelm Werner, 8 miles north-east of the Godrevy lighthouse, St Ives. 2 persons were lost.

1918: Rose Marie. Built 1916 by SP Austin, Sunderland. Owner Rodney Shipping, 2,220grt. En route from Scapa Flow to Barry, in ballast. Sunk by U-61, Captain Dieckmann, in St George’s Channel. 1 lost.

1941: Shakespear. Built 1926 by Duncan, Glasgow. Owner Glover Bros, 5,029grt. In convoy from Liverpool to North America. Attacked by Italian submarine off Senegal and returned fire but was sunk. 20 lost.


White Star’s Delphic (I) launched 5th January 1897

delphic-1White Star’s Delphic was launched at Harland & Wolff, Belfast on 5th January 1897. She was jointly owned by White Star and Shaw, Savill & Albion for their service to New Zealand. She was a steel-hulled steamer with twin propellers, one funnel and four masts. She was designed to carry refrigerated meat in three forward holds and could also carry 1,000 emigrants. Originally she carried yards on the foremast plus three jibs and a two trysails. Delivered on 15th May 1897, she left on her maiden voyage to New York on 17th June, under Captain Sowden. After a second Atlantic crossing in July, she was placed on the New Zealand service.

The 'Delphic'On 30th September 1897 she left on her maiden voyage for Wellington, arriving on 21st November. After visiting several ports in New Zealand, she was back in London on 27th February 1898. She then settled into a regular service. Delphic also made two trooping runs to South Africa during the Boer War.

The German submarine U60 fired a torpedo at Delphic on 16th February 1917, but it missed. She was taken over in March 1917 under the Liner Requisition Scheme along with White Star’s Athenic, Bovic, Canopic, Cufic and Northland. Sailing from Cardiff to Montevideo with a cargo of coal, on 16th August 1917 Delphic was torpedoed by German submarine UC72; five crew died. The remainder were picked up by an escorting destroyer. Delphic stayed afloat but sank the next day.

4th January – wartime shipping losses

1916: Coquet. Owned by Mercantile Shipping. Built in 1904 by Raylton Dixon, she was 4,396grt, 360 feet. Captured by German submarine U34, Captain Rücker, in the Mediterranean, and sunk by bombs. 17 lost.

1917: Wragby. Owned by Ropners. Built 1901, she was 3,641grt. Captured and sunk by gunfire by German submarine UC37, Captain Launburg, off Cape Sparkle. En route from Wales to Gibraltar with a cargo of coal.

rewa-111918: Rewa. Owned by British India. Built 1906 by Dennys. She was on Government service as Hospital Ship No. 5, and clearly marked as such. Torpedoed and sunk in the Bristol Channel by the German submarine U55, Captain Wilhelm Werner. Carrying 279 wounded officers and men from Mudros to Avonmouth. 4 lost.

iolanthe1918: Iolanthe. Owned by London American Trading. Built 1904 by Grays of Sunderland, she was 3,081grt, 325 feet. Torpedoed in the English Channel, off Portland Bill, by German submarine UC75, Captain Lohs. Abandoned and later sank.

1918: Glenarm Head. Owned by Head Line. Built in 1897 by Workman, Clark, Belfast, she was 3,908grt. Torpedoed in the English Channel, some 5 miles off Brighton by German submarine UB30. En route Southampton to Boulogne with a cargo of ammunition. 2 lost.

1942: Kwangtung. 2,626grt. Shelled and sunk in the Java Sea by Japanese submarine I-156. Carrying about 96 crew and  35 military personnel. After being machine gunned in the boats, the submarine rammed lifeboats, only 35 survived.


3rd January – wartime shipping losses

1918: Gartland. Built in 1892 by Redheads of South Shields for Whimster & Co. Garland was a defensively armed steamer of 2,613grt and 91m long. She was torpedoed and sunk without warning by the German submarine UB30 about 5 miles east of the Owers light vessel off Kelsey Bill. She was carrying coal from the Tyne to Gibraltar. 2 crew were lost.

1918: Birchwood. Built in 1910 by Ropers for Birchwood Shipping, she was carrying coal from Glasgow to Devonport when she was attacked without warning and sunk by German submarine U61, 25 miles east of the Blackwater light vessel.

1943: Pinewood. Built in 1930 for France, Fenwick, she was 2,466grt. She struck a mine some 1.5 miles off Southend Pier and sank. Six of the crew were lost.

british-vigilance1943: British Vigilance. Built in 1942 by Harland & Wolff, Govan, she was 463 feet long, 8,093grt. On 3rd January 1943 she was in Convoy TM-1 from Curacao to Gibraltar carrying petrol when she was attacked by German submarine U514 about 900 miles north-east of Barbados. Abandoned by the crew, she burnt and drifted until she was finally torpedoed and sunk by U105 on 24th January 1943. 25 crew and 2 gunners lost.

1944: Empire Housman. Built in 1943 by William Oxford in Sunderland, she was a 7,359grt cargo ship. In Convoy ON217, she was torpedoed and damaged on 31st December 1943 by German submarine U545, she was attacked again on 3rd January 1944 by U744, and finally sank on 5th January 1944.


White Star’s Belgic (II) enters service 3rd January 1885

belgic-1885_01Belgic (Yard No 171) was launched at Harland & Wolff on 3rd January 1885, for the joint White Star/Occidental & Oriental service. She had two double-cylindered engines of 500 hp, which were two distinct and complete units capable of being disconnected, and worked separately. She was handed over to White Star on 7th July 1885, and arrived in London on 14th July. Originally the fore and main masts were rigged for sails.

Belgic began her maiden voyage to San Francisco on 30th July 1885. She was chartered by Orient Line as far as Sydney, carrying 590 emigrants. She called at Tenerife on 4th August for coal and Cape Town on 20th August. Belgic arrived at Sydney on 12th September 1885 then headed for Newcastle, New South Wales, on 30th September. She sailed from Newcastle on 10th October 1885 to join the trans-Pacific service, and arrived at San Francisco on 2nd November. Sailing from San Francisco on 28th November 1885, Belgic arrived at Yokohama on 19th December and Hong Kong on 28th December.

belgic-as-mohawk-hmt33On 28th January 1886 Belgic suffered a broken piston rod and was delayed eight days at Yokohama for repairs. At Amoy, China, on 26th May 1894, Belgic was  struck amidships by Blue Funnel’s  Ulysses. The damage was above the waterline and she sailed the next day, arriving at San Francisco  on 18th June. On 8th September 1895 Belgic went ashore in Sateyama Bay in Japan. Refloated on 10th October 1895 she sailed to Yokosuka for temporary repairs. She returned to Hong Kong, arriving on 4th November, and remained there until January while repairs were completed.

Belgic  made her final San Francisco departure on 19th November 1898. She called at Honolulu, Yokohama and Hong Kong; from there she returned to England via Suez. Sold to Atlantic Transport Line in 1899, Mohawk (ex-Belgic) made her first sailing on 5th August 1899, from London to New York and her second on 7th September. She was taken over in December 1900 as a troop transport for Boer War service. Released from trooping in 1902, after inspection it was not economic to refurbish her and she was put up for sale. Mohawk was broken up in 1903 at Garston in Liverpool.

Shipping losses on
2nd January 1941

A number of vessels were lost on 2nd January 1941, in what was one of the darkest years for merchant shipping and seamen during World War II. Just two of these are highlighted here:

nalgoraNALGORA of British India. She was 6,600grt, and 433 feet long, built by William Gray in 1922. Built to carry grain or cotton in bulk, she had no passenger accommodation. Whilst in Convoy OB 261, from Leith to Alexandria, she was sunk by stern torpedo and 70 rounds from deck gun from the German submarine U-65 in position 22°24’N 21°11’W at 22.07 hours , 350 miles north of the Cape Verde Islands. All crew survived.

meriones-01MERIONES of China Mutual. She was 7,557grt and 455 feet long, built by Palmers at Newcastle in 1922. She was in a convoy heading for Hull to complete loading cargo before heading for Australia. She grounded on a wreck on 22nd January 1941 and was abandoned. The crew were rescued by the Cromer lifeboat. Bombed by aircraft and sunk in position 52°53’N 01°47’E 26th January 1941, off Cromer.

Details of these and other vessels are in the book “Ships of the British Merchant Navy “– a fascinating summary of the careers of all vessels.

STX France – Fincantieri currently only bidder

diademaprua4-fill-600x401STX France, based at St Nazaire in France, specialises in building large cruise ships. It is part of the troubled Korean shipbuilding  conglomerate STX, which is currently in receivership. The Seoul bankruptcy court stated in November that four parties had expressed interest in taking over the French part of STX, but it has since confirmed that currently only one bid has been received. This is from the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

In spite of an apparently healthy order book, including the two recent orders from MSC, other yards have been hesitant to make a bid for the profitable shipbuilder. One of these, French naval contractor DCNS, admitted they had held talks with Fincantieri and were presently keeping their options open. Getting Hong Kong announced it was no longer interested.

The French government has a 33% stake in STX France, but has made public that it is not interested in getting a majority stake. However, it insisted that it would be retaining its blocking powers on any changes, and would have a say in any ownership change. The French Industry Minister insisted that France would maintain its right to veto any sale if the conditions weren’t right.

1st January 1942 Normandie transferred to US Registry

823-at-seaFollowing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on 22nd December 1941 Normandie was transferred to the US Navy Department, under the name of USS Lafayette, listed as AP53.  To all who knew her, however, she would always Normandie. On the 24th December the Commission handed the liner to the US Navy, to to be hastily converted into a troopship, based on exper­iences gained with Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The Ameri­can need for troopships helped to speed up the bureau­cracy. She was officially entered on the register on 1st January 1942.

599Plans were quickly put in hand for her conversion. Initially 18,000 bottles of wine were removed, along with many other items including six grand pianos, four hobby horses and other fixtures and fittings, most of which were later sold at public auctions. 2,400 vans were needed – transport costs alone were put at more than $100,000. Major works of art were carefully removed to storage, panelling was dismantled. Several local warehouses were rented for the storage. Robins Drydock was awarded the contract to convert her to a troopship, the work to be carried out while she was still at her pier. Sadly, following a number of bizarre decisions and careless workmen, on 9th February 1942 she caught fire, and later that day capsized. Too badly damaged and too big to be salvaged at the time, she was eventually scrapped in October 1946.


Cunard’s Ivernia torpedoed and lost 1st January 1917

s-s-_ivernia_ca-_1900Cunard’s Ivernia was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle. She was launched on 21st September 1899, and made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 14th April 1900. There was an almost identical sister ship, Saxonia. Ivernia ran aground in thick fog off Daunts Rock on 24th May 1911, but was salvaged and later rebuilt. She returned  to service on 17th October 1911. She was later used on the emigrant service from Trieste to New York.

az-iverniaWith the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Ivernia was hired by the UK government for use as a troop transport, mainly between Canada and the Mediterranean. On 28th December 1916 she sailed from Marseilles for Alexandria, Egypt, with HMS Rifleman as her escort. Carrying over 2,400 troops, mainly from the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, she was under the command of Captain Turner, who had previously been in command of Lusitania when she was torpedoed. On 1st January 1917 she was south-east of Cape Matapan, Greece, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine UB47. The torpedo hit on the starboard side and exploded in a boiler room, killing 22 of the crew. HMS Rifleman drew alongside and took off 666 troops and 36 crew, Other survivors were rescued by escorting trawlers. The ship sank soon after. Total casualties were 84 troops and 36 crew lost.