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MV Empire Bede
Class and type: Cargo ship
Name: Empire Bede
Owner: Ministry of War Transport
Operator: Hain Steamship Co Ltd
Port of registry: United Kingdom Glasgow
Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Glasgow
Yard number: 1094
Launched: 6 January 1942
Completed: 31 March 1942
Identification: UK Official Number 168709
Code Letters BCVC
ICS Bravo.svgICS Charlie.svgICS Victor.svgICS Charlie.svg
Fate: Torpedoed, then sunk by gunfire on 18 August 1942
General characteristics
Tonnage: 6,959 GRT
4,2019 NRT
Length: 432 ft 7 in (131.85 m)
Beam: 56 ft 3 in (17.15 m)
Depth: 34 ft 3 in (10.44 m)
Propulsion: One 4SCSA oil engine, 490 hp (370 kW)
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h)
Crew: 37, plus 6 DEMS gunners and 2 signalmen

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Empire Bede was a 6,959 GRT cargo ship which was built by G M Harland & Wolff Ltd, Glasgow in 1942 for the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). She had a short career, being damaged by a torpedo and then sunk by gunfire on 18 August 1942.

Description[edit | edit source]

Empire Bede was built by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Glasgow.[1] She was yard number 1049.[2] Empire Bede was launched on 6 January 1942 and completed on 31 March.[2] She was 432 feet 7 inches (131.85 m) long, with a beam of 56 feet 3 inches (17.15 m) and a depth of 34 feet 3 inches (10.44 m).[3] Her GRT was 6,959[1] with a NRT of 4,201.[3]

Career[edit | edit source]

Empire Bede had a short career, she was a member of two convoys.

OS 25

Convoy OS 25 departed Liverpool on 12 April 1942 and arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone on 29 April.[4] Empire Bede was carrying a cargo of ammunition, guns, stores and tanks.[5]

After leaving the convoy off Freetown, Empire Bede delivered her cargo to Aden and Port Said, Egypt. She then sailed to Port Sudan where a load of cotton was taken aboard. Empire Bede sailed to Cape Town and then departed for New York.[5] On 1 August she picked up 25 survivors from the Clan Line ship SS Clan MacNaughton, which had been torpedoed and sunk by U-155. They were landed at Port of Spain, Trinidad on 5 August.[6]

TAW 13

Convoy TAW 13 departed from Trinidad on 12 August 1942 and arrived at Key West, Florida on 23 August.[7] Empire Bede carried the Vice-Commodore. The convoy headed for the Panama Canal at 5 knots (9.3 km/h) to rendezvous with other ships that were to join the convoy there. At 04:00 British Double Summer Time (06:00 German time) on 12 August,[5] Empire Bede was struck by a torpedo fired by U-553, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Karl Thurmann. Two crew were killed.[8] Her position was 19°35′N 76°25′W / 19.583°N 76.417°W / 19.583; -76.417.[1] The other 35 crew, six DEMS gunners and two signalmen were picked up by HMS Pimpernel,[8] which later sank Empire Bede by gunfire at 19°41′N 76°50′W / 19.683°N 76.833°W / 19.683; -76.833Coordinates: 19°41′N 76°50′W / 19.683°N 76.833°W / 19.683; -76.833.[1] The rescued crew were landed at Santiago de Cuba.[8] Those lost on Empire Bede are commemorated at the Tower Hill Memorial, London.[9]

Official Numbers and Code Letters[edit | edit source]

Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers. Empire Bede had the UK Official Number 1687091 and the Code Letters BCVC.[3]

Propulsion[edit | edit source]

Empire Bede was propelled by a four-stroke Single Cycle, Single Action diesel engine which had six cylinders of 29 38 inches (750 mm) diameter by 59 316 inches (1,503 mm) stroke. It was built by Harland & Wolff.[3] The engine could propel the ship at a speed of 14 knots (26 km/h).[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "1168709". Miramar Ship Index. http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz. Retrieved 29 October 2009.  (subscription required)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "LLOYD'S REGISTER, STEAMERS & MOTORSHIPS". Plimsoll Ship Data. http://www.plimsollshipdata.org/pdffile.php?name=41b0993.pdf. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  4. "Convoy OS.25". Convoyweb. http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/oskms/index.html?os025.htm~osmain. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "A Look Back at My Life and Service in the Merchant Navy". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/83/a2969283.shtml. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  6. "August 1st, 1942". Andrew Etherington. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/andrew.etherington/1942/08/01.htm. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  7. "Convoy TAW.13". Convoyweb. http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/taw/index.html?taw.php?convoy=13!~tawmain. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Empire Bede". Uboat. http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/ship.html?shipID=2065. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  9. "Ship Index A-F". Brian Watson. http://www.benjidog.co.uk/Tower%20Hill/Ship%20Index%20A-F.html. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 

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