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PORT NAPIER (2) was built in 1940 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 8947grt. As she was taken over during building for completion as the minelayer HMS Port Napier no further details were recorded in Lloyds Register. Although part of the First Minelaying Squadron she never saw any active service. On 26th November 1940 whilst at anchor in the Kyle of Lochalsh a gale blew up and she dragged her anchors fouling those of a nearby collier causing both to drift into shallow water but undamaged. On the following day she was de-bunkered in order to lighten the ship but as this operation was being completed a fire was reported in the engine room. This was lethal as the ship was loaded with 400 mines and an explosion would devastate the whole area. Local inhabitants were hastily evacuated and all ships in the harbour sailed. The collier slipped its fouled anchor chain and sailed away as quickly as possible. There was no explosion and volunteers went back to drop the mines over the stern into the water. However, the situation deteriorated and they had to quickly retreat. Shortly after there was an enormous flash followed by an explosion which blew out the innards of the ship. When the smoke cleared the ship was seen to be settling on her side where she remained with the port plating just visible at low tide. Fortunately nobody was killed. In 1944 the steel plating was salvaged for re-use. (Photo: Alan Green)

PORT VICTOR (3) was built in 1942 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 12411grt, a length of 503ft 6in, a beam of 68ft 2ins and a service speed of 16 knots. She was a sister ship of the Port Jackson. On 1st May 1943, whilst travelling unescorted in the Atlantic, she was torpedoed by U-107 when 600 miles south-west of Ireland with the loss of 10 crew members, 2 gunners and 5 passengers. Aware of submarine presence the Port Victor was zig-zagging in order to deter an attack. However, the U-boat positioned herself ahead of the ship and fired the first torpedo from 1000 metres hitting the ship amidships. Two more torpedoes followed which exploded under two life boats that were being lowered killing all persons in the vicinity. A fourth torpedo was used to sink the ship breaking the Port Victor into two. The remaining 149 survivors were picked up by HMS Wren. The sinking was the U-boat commander's 19th.

PORT VINDEX was built during 1943/44 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 10489grt, a length of 523ft 10in, a beam of 68ft 5ins and a service speed of 16 knots. Before launching she was taken over by the Admiralty for conversion into an escort aircraft carrier. She was completed on 3rd December after having 22,000 buoyancy drums and 2000 tons of pig iron ballast added to counter the flight deck top weight. In January 1944 she was commissioned as HMS Vindex with a displacement tonnage of 13455 tons, a crew of 700 and 813 Squadron flying either 20 Fulmers or Swordfish aircraft. She was the first of a class of three vessels, the others being the Nairana and the Campania, and was initially deployed around Europe on anti-submarine patrol escorted by three destroyers. Later in the war she moved on to escorting the Russian convoys to Murmansk and the battleship Royal Sovereign on her voyage to become the USSR's Arkhangelsk. On 15th August 1944 she escorted convoy JW-59 as Vice-Admiral Dalrymple-Hamilton's flagship when all 22 ships were delivered in safety which marked an end to enemy hostilities in the area. In the same year she was one of the first aircraft carriers to be equipped with rocket assisted aircraft launchers, flying the Fairey Fireflys of 882 and 1790 Squadrons. She made her final Murmansk convoy run on 16th April 1945 escorting JW-66 and then was detached to the Far East where she acted as the flagship of Rear-Admiral Cunningham Graham. Following VJ day in the September she sailed to Hong Kong from where she evacuated POW's to Australia. In 1946 she was laid up in reserve in the Firth of Forth off Rosyth where she remained until 2nd October 1947 when she was repurchased by Port Line. Towed back to her builders she was converted into a cargo vessel and re-entered service on 22nd June 1949 as the Port Vindex in honour of her wartime service as there is no such place as Port Vindex. Her HMS Vindex bell and naval crest remained on the ship as a further honour. On 10th March 1968 she came under the management of Blue Star Port Lines (Management) - Blueport. During her penultimate voyage she came across the yacht Frilo in the Atlantic, the yachtsman Christian Loehr who had been undertaking a single-handed Atlantic crossing was never found. On 23rd August of the same year she arrived at Koahsuing where she was broken up. (Photo: John Rix Collection)

PORT VICTOR (4) was built in 1943 by John Brown & Co. at Clydebank with a tonnage of 10390grt, a length of 523ft 10in, a beam of 68ft 5ins and a service speed of 16 knots. Before completion she was taken over by the Admiralty for conversion into the auxiliary aircraft carrier HMS Nairana with a displacement tonnage of 14046grt and a crew of 728. She was the last escort carrier to be built in the UK as by this time similar ships were being mass produced in the USA and under the Lease-Lend arrangement 39 vessels were delivered. HMS Nairana was used for escort duties mainly from Loch Ewe to Murmansk. In all there were 40 convoys to North Russia during which 811 ships were escorted with only 100 being lost including a rescue ship and a fleet oiler. Half the casualties occurred during 1942, 24 being lost during the infamous convoy PQ17, with only six ships being lost in 1945. One of the vital cargoes included a consignment of 15,000,000 pairs of boots for the Russian army. In February 1946 she was transferred to the Netherland's Navy and renamed HNMS Karel Doorman where she served until 1948 when she was return to the Royal Navy and put in reserve. In the November she reverted to Port Line and in the following year was rebuilt to the same specification as her sister Port Vindex and renamed Port Victor. On 10th March 1968 she came under the management of Blue Star Port Lines (Management) - Blueport but her owner was Cunard not Port Line. This situation remained until 1971 when ownership was transferred to Port Line but in the same year, on 21st July, she arrived at Faslane where she was broken up by Shipbreaking Industries. (Photo John Rix Collection)

SAMPLER/PORT ALBANY (2) was built in 1943 by (Kaiser's) Oregon Ship Building Corp. at Oregon with a tonnage of 7219grt, a length of 441ft 8in, a beam of 57ft and a service speed of 10 knots. An EC2-S-C1 (Emergency Cargo Type 2) she was a Liberty ships ordered as the William C Lane but delivered as the Sampler on a bare-boat charter to the Ministry of War Transport with Port Line as managers. She survived the war and was acquired by Port Line in 1947 as a war loss replacement, the company's only Liberty ship, and renamed Port Albany. In 1951 she was sold to Cia. Vista Darada of Panama and renamed Teni but only stayed with the company until 1953 when she was sold to the Mid-Atlantic Shipping Co. of Greece and given the name Gloriana. On 3rd June 1968 she arrived in Shanghai where she was broken up. As a point of interest the Oregon Ship Building Co. holds the all time shipbuilding record when they laid the keel of the Joseph N. Tealand and launched her her 10 days later. Photo: Iain Lovie Collection)

SAMBLADE was built in 1943 by the Californian Shipbuilding Corp. at Los Angeles with a tonnage of 7219grt, a length of 441ft 8in, a beam of 57ft and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Sampler she was built as the Augustus H. Garland for the US War Shipping Administration but delivered to the Ministry of War Transport on a bare-boat charter as the Samblade with Port Line as managers. She reverted back to the US Shipping Board in 1948 with her originally intended name, placed in reserve, laid up and eventually broken up at Baltimore in 1949.

SAMLEVEN was built in 1944 by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc. at Baltimore with a tonnage of 7219grt, a length of 441ft 8in, a beam of 57ft and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister ship of the Sampler she was bare-boat chartered to the Ministry of War Transport in February 1944 with Port Line as managers. In 1947 she was purchased by Tramp Shipping Development Co. with Counties Ship Management Co. of London as managers and renamed Bisham Hill. She was sold to Global Carriers Inc. of Monrovia in 1952 and renamed Nausica. Four years later she became the Praglia owned by Leonado Arrivabene Soc. per Azioni of Palermo, Sicily. She became the Vassiliki in 1960 owned by Olisman Cia. Naviera S.A. of Beirut and when the company moved its base to Famagusta she was operated by Vassiliki Shipping Co. On 31st March 1970, during a voyage from Sicily to Havana with a cargo of fertiliser she was wrecked on Mayaguana Island, Bahamas. (Photo as the Vassiliki: Iain Lovie Collection)

SAMEDEN was built in 1944 by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc. at Baltimore with a tonnage of 7219grt, a length of 441ft 8in, a beam of 57ft and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister ship of the Sampler she was bare-boat chartered to the Ministry of War Transport in March 1944 with Port Line as managers. In 1946 she was purchased by Mill Hill Steamship Co. with Counties Ship Management Co. of London as managers and renamed Mill Hill. Sold in 1951 to Costade Marfil Cia. Naviera S.A. of Monrovia she became the Educator but was renamed Kanaris by the same owners in 1961with the port of registry changing to Piraeus. Five years later she was acquired by Active Steam Ship Co. of Panama and renamed Splendid Sky. On 4th October 1969 she grounded in the River Schelde during a voyage from Antwerp to Spezia with a cargo of silversand. Later refloated she was found to have broken her back and was scrapped at Antwerp in January 1970. (Photo as the Mill Hill: Iain Lovie Collection)

LOWLANDER was built in 1925 by Stabilimento Tecnico S.A., San Marco in Trieste with a tonnage of 8059grt, a length of 467ft 6in, a beam of 57ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered to Navegazione Libera Triestino in October 1925 as the Leme and transferred to 'Italia' when it was formed in 1936. Her service speed was increased to 16 knots when she was re-engined in 1938. In June 1940 she was interned in the USA and after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 she was seized by the Americans and placed on Lease-Lend to the British Government with the name Lowlander and with Port Line as managers. She was returned to Soc. per Azioni de Nav 'Italia' with her original name, Leme, initially for use as an emigrant carrier between Italy and the Argentine. In June 1949 she was transferred to the North Pacific service and by 1957 was carrying cargo only to Brazil and Argentine. Laid up in 1960 she was finally broken up in 1961.

FORT CHAMBLY was built in 1942 by Davie Shipbuilding & Repairing Co. at Lauzon, Quebec with a tonnage of 7130grt, a length of 441ft 10in, a beam of 57ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. On 20th April 1940 the Hyde Park Agreement was signed whereby 90 Canadian 'North Sands' class of Fort vessels were purchased by the US Government and then bare-boat chartered to the Ministry of War Transport. One of the vessels, the Fort Chambly, was launched on 18th April 1942 and delivered in the May with Port Line as managers. In 1947 she was returned to the US Maritime Commission who placed her on reserve and laid her up. She was eventually broken up at Mobile in 1959. (Photo: Iain Lovie Collection)

FORT STIKINE was built in 1942 by the Prince Rupert Drydock & Shipyard Co. with a tonnage of 7130grt, a length of 441ft 10in, a beam of 57ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. One of the 'North Sands' Forts she was bare-boat chartered to the Ministry of War Transport on 31st July 1942 with Port Line as managers. On 24th February 1944 she sailed from the Mersey bound for Karachi and Bombay with a cargo which included 1400 tons of explosives and 124 bars of gold worth £1,000,000. She made her scheduled call at Karachi where she loaded further cargo and arrived at No.1 berth Victoria Dock in Bombay on 12th April. Although she had a three category explosives priority certificate she remained for over 24 hours totally unmanned. During the morning of the 14th April the duty watch on the Fort Crevier, berthed 400 yards away, noticed smoke coming from the No. 3 hatch ventilators and the dock police were informed. The fire alarm was sounded as a matter of routine and fire fighting equipment arrived at the ship to attend to the problem - fire fighting equipment which was inadequate for the task. This inadequacy became apparent when the deck plating became too hot to stand on. Hundreds of tons of water delivered by 32 hoses was directed at the seat of the fire but when, at 15.45, the fire reached the explosives the ship was evacuated. The ship became an inferno with flames leaping over 100 feet into the air, but her master, Captain Naismith and Chief Officer Henderson, returned on board to check that all personnel had left the ship. Seconds after they returned ashore, at 16.06, the explosives in the forward holds blew up killing both men and showering flaming debris onto the adjacent ships and quayside sheds. An enormous tidal wave lifted Scindia's Jalapadma at right angles on top of No. 2 shed and broke her back. The area was a flattened shambles with eleven ships on fire and four sunk at their berths, swamped by the deluge. But more devastation was to follow. At 16.40 the fire reached the 784 tons of explosives in the after holds which detonated shooting flames and debris 3000 feet into the sky demolishing and setting on fire over a square mile of the port and the city. The casualties were extensive with 231 ships personnel unaccounted for and 476 injured. Over 500 civilian dockyard workers were killed with a further 1000 reported as missing and over 2000 taken to hospital for treatment. In addition to the Fort Stikine a further 10 ships were lost including British India Line's Baroda. It took six months of intensive effort to clear up the mess. As a footnote to an horrendous disaster during routine operations in 1960 a Bombay Harbour Trust dredger recovered one bar of gold. (Photo: Iain Lovie Collection)

EMPIRE TREASURE was built in 1943 by Lithgows Ltd at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 7040grt, a length of 447ft 7in, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was launched the Empire Treasure for the Ministry of War Transport with Port Line as managers and completed in March 1943. In January 1944, during a voyage to the UK with a cargo of 2000 tons of munitions, she shed a propeller blade and became a straggler. Soon after the remaining blades were lost and she wallowed for three days before the rescue tug HMS Bustler, with a corvette as an escort, came to her aid. In gale force winds and mountainous seas the tug nursed the ship 1094 miles to Newport in South Wales at a walking pace and never once breaking the tow. For days neither ship could see each other in the darkness and storm tossed spray and at times the Empire Treasure was blown ahead of her tow. The operation is now considered to be one of the finest feats of towage seamanship ever. In May 1946 she was purchased by Donaldson Bros for their Glasgow - North Pacific service and renamed Gracia. When Donaldson's Pacific routes were given to Blue Star Line in March 1954 she became the Oregon Star but only until May 1955 when she was sold to Williamson & Co. of Hong Kong and renamed Inchleana. In March 1966 she was sold to the National Shipping Corp. of Pakistan and renamed Tetulia. Initially based at Karachi the company moved to Chittagong in East Pakistan during July 1968. The ship was broken up by Mohamadi Iron Traders at Chittagong in 1969. (Photo as the Oregon Star: Iain Lovie Collection)

EMPIRE MOULMEIN was built in 1944 by J Readhead & Sons at South Shields with a tonnage of 7047grt, a length of 446ft 5in, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Empire Treasure she was launched for the Ministry of War Transport with Port Line as managers and completed in August 1944. In 1945 she was transferred to the French Government's Ministere de la Marine Marchande under the management of Nouvelle Cie. Havraise Peninsulaire de Nav. and renamed Colonel Vieljeux. She was renamed Ville de Diego-Suarez by the same owners in 1948 and in 1962 became the Vimy when owned by Soc. Monegasque d'Armement et de Navigation of Monaco and then the Demirhan (2) when she was sold to Riza ve Aslan Sadikoglu Ortaklari Komandit Sirketi of Istanbul. In 1966 she was sold to Manizade Vapuru Donatima Istoraki, restyled in 1973 to Serket Manioglu Denizcilik Isletmesi Donatima Istiraki, and renamed Manizade. After a further three years service she was broken up in March 1976 by Zeki Veren at Alaiga.

PORT MACQUARIE (2) was built in 1944 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 7319grt, a length of 487ft 11in, a beam of 62ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was a utility build and her derrick posts were staggered in order to confuse U-boat commanders. Completed in February 1944 she participated in a convoy from the Tyne to New York where she loaded US stores for troops in Guam in the Pacific. From there she continued to Australia where she loaded food for Britain. On 26th January 1953, during a short voyage from Liverpool to Glasgow in fog, she grounded at Seaforth but, after water ballast was discharged, was refloated undamaged but returned to Liverpool for a hull examination. During a voyage from the UK to Wellington, on 12th June 1957 and when 570 miles east of Auckland, she took in tow P Henderson's liner Captain Hobson which had broken down. With 650 emigrants on board and with HMNZS Stawell in attendance she towed the ship to Auckland where she arrived on 17th June, earning a salvage award of £4000. On 10th March she came under the management of Blueport but was quickly replaced by the Port Caroline and, consequently, was broken up at Kaohsiung in September of the same year. (Photo: John Rix Collection)

PORT WELLING TON (2) was built in 1946 by John Brown & Co. at Clydebank with a tonnage of 10609grt, a length of 528ft 4in, a beam of 68ft 5in and a service speed of 16 knots. One of two similar ships she was the company's first post was new building. On 10th March she came under the management of Blueport and after 25 years uneventful service left Southampton on 16th July 1971 on her final voyage to Castellon in Spain where she was broken up. (Photo: John Rix Collection)

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