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
  • 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
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
MV Empire Bede is located in Cuba
MV Empire Bede
Location of the sinking of Empire Bede off Cuba.

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.


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]


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

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


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]


  1. ^ a b c d 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. ^ a b "1168709". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d "LLOYD'S REGISTER, STEAMERS & MOTORSHIPS" (PDF). Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  4. ^ "Convoy OS.25". Convoyweb. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d "A Look Back at My Life and Service in the Merchant Navy". BBC. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  6. ^ "August 1st, 1942". Andrew Etherington. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  7. ^ "Convoy TAW.13". Convoyweb. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  8. ^ a b c "Empire Bede". Uboat. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  9. ^ "Ship Index A-F". Brian Watson. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011.