The S.S. Turkia began life as the 1,671 GRT. cargo ship Livorno built at Earles Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. (Yard No. 562), Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, for Thomas Wilson, Sons & Co Ltd, Hull (it should be noted here that the Wilson Line was also the owner of Earles Shipbuilding). The ship was launched on 01 December 1909 and completed the following month in January 1910 with a length of 91.5 meters, beam of 13 meters, and draught of 5.3 meters. Propulsion was provided by steam boilers and a triple-expansion engine provided by Amos and Smith Ltd., Hull, England, coupled to a single shaft and propeller for a top speed of 9.5 knots.
The Loss of the S.S. Turkia
The ship’s final voyage was in May 1941 when the ship departed New York with a cargo of steel cable, metal ingots, tires, vehicles, small arms, and explosives destined for Piraeus, Greece. Due to the Axis powers having control of the Straits of Gibraltar, the ship was forced to make the long voyage around the southern tip of Africa, up along the east coast of Africa, and then up through the Red Sea.
Anne Crowe of Lloyds made the following Casualty Report entry:
“17 May 1941 she had a fire in no. 3 hold where explosives were stored (she was carrying explosives and general cargo) and the fire was beyond control so the vessel was abandoned. 10 minutes later there was a large explosion and the vessel sank in 12 fathoms. Nothing was being done to salvage as no competent salvage service was available at Port Said.” Source: Anne Crowe, Lloyds.
The ship settled to the bottom in approximately 24 meters of water and was reported to have sank at 2.5 miles, bearing 160-degrees from the Zafarana Light. A local dive tour operator now conducts dive trips to the site.
Miramar Single ship reports for 1129257 and 1128498