Ships Monthly Magazine


January's mystery ship

mystery ship

John Burling supplied this month’s mystery ship, sending in two photos to test readers’ knowledge. He saw the ship moored in the river Tamar at Plymouth in the mid-1980s, and the dredger in mid-river was photographed in Portsmouth harbour in the 1960s. This is all the information he could supply, so can anyone help with any further details? Can any reader supply the names of the ships? When and where were they built? And were they regular visitors to the south coast ports where they are pictured?

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November’s Mystery Ship Answer

mystery ship reply

The November mystery ship is the 16,909grt passenger ship Empress of Asia, completed by Fairfield in Glasgow in May 1913 for Canadian Pacific Line. The four-screwed vessel was powered by steam turbines and reached a maximum speed of 21 knots on trials, having a service speed of 19-20 knots. For many years she was the fastest Pacific liner. Like her three-months older sister Empress of Russia, in peacetime she operated on the Vancouver-Yokohama-Shanghai- Hong Kong route. They were the first big passenger liners with a straight stern.

In August 1914 Empress of Asia became an armed merchant cruiser, and returned to Canadian Pacific in March 1916, but was commissioned once again in May 1918 as a troopship. After a refit she carried 510 in three classes, plus 728 ‘tween deck passengers and 475 crew. She serviced her old route from February 1919 until February 1941, when she became a troopship for the second time.

October’s Mystery Ship Answer

mystery ship reply

The October Mystery Ship is the 4,119grt ‘turret’ steamer Pearlmoor, which was designed and completed in 1905 by W. Doxford & Sons at their Pallion Yard on the Wear, to the order of Walter Runciman & Co’s Moor Line of Newcastle, to replace an earlier (1897-built) ‘turret’ namesake, which had been wrecked off the Arabian Sea coast of Oman in November 1904. Measuring 350ft by 51ft 1in by 24ft Pearlmoor was powered by a 310nhp triple expansion engine constructed by her builder which gave her a top speed of ten knots.

In 1919 she was sold to Western Counties Shipping of Cardiff who, in 1920, renamed her Pearlmead. This was followed by four further sales and transfers to London-based, German and ultimately Brazilian owners, when she was renamed Anneliese and later became Uru in 1922 and 1925 respectively. She was finally demolished during June 1957 at Rio de Janeiro by Laminacao Ltda. The exact location of the photo, and where the adjacent vessel is moored, is difficult to determine, but a guess would be some north-east port. 

December's mystery ship

mystery ship

This month’s mystery ship was supplied by Jim Shaw, who commented: ‘All I know is that the photo was taken in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and is rumoured to be that of a former Dutch passenger/cargo vessel. Unfortunately, there is not much left of her to go by.’ So can anyone help? Can any reader supply the name of the ship? Did she have a long career and who was she operated by? When was the photo taken?

November's mystery ship

mystery ship

This month’s mystery ship was supplied by Mr M. Stevenson, of Tockington, Bristol, who wrote: ‘My grandfather, a ship’s captain in the early 1900s, may have been involved with this ship, possibly around Japan. Unfortunately I don’t have much information on his seagoing service, so I wondered if any reader could supply more information about the vessel.’ So can anyone help? What is the name of the ship? Where was the photo taken? Did she have a long career and who was she operated by?

September’s Mystery Ship Answer

September’s mystery ship

Close scrutiny of the photograph reveals the vessel to be Lempa, the second of two identical fruit ships completed in late 1952 by the German shipbuilders Bremer Vulkan at Vegesak for the Honduran subsidiary of the US-controlled United Fruit Company, Empresa Hondurena de Vapores, and registered at Tela.

Lempa and her sister Leon, initially 2,816gt and 2,970dwt respectively, shared overall dimensions of 104.7m by 13.7m and were powered by paired oil engines with a service speed of 14 knots. They operated principally in the carriage of bananas on routes between the Caribbean and US Eastern seaboard ports until 1959, when United Fruit became part of the United Brands conglomerate, resulting in a major fleet rationalisation. Ownership of the pair was transferred to the Fyffes subsidiary, the Surrey Shipping Company of London, for their operation under the British flag, and they were renamed Leith Hill and Box Hill respectively.

October's mystery ship

mystery ship

This month’s mystery ship shows some kind of small cargo vessel berthed in port. The name on the ship is unreadable, unfortunately, making identification more difficult. So can any reader supply more information about this ship, or indeed the vessel on the left which is partly cropped in the photo? Where was the photo taken? And when? Did these ships have long careers, who were they operated by and when were they broken up?

August’s Mystery Ship Answer

augst mystery ship

The August Mystery Ship was the liner Hikawa Maru, which is preserved in her company colours of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line (Japan Mail Steamship Co)  at Yokohama.

The 11,622grt vessel was built in 1930 as a passenger cargo liner for the company; she measured 512ft by 66ft and was powered by diesels driving twin screws to give a service speed of 15-18 knots on the Pacific service.

I believe she was taken into military use in 1941 and served as a hospital ship, before being returned to the same company, trading until 1953. She has been preserved to a high standard, as can be seen from her superb appearance, and was one of a class of superior vessels, of which they are clearly very much more proud than any surviving UK shipping company.

M. J. Benning, Somerset



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