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The Livorno/SS Turkia at The Red Sea Wreck Project

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 ship was constructed with “Clinker” hull, 4 athwartship bulkheads, and a rounded stern. The superstructure was situated just forward of amidships, with the engineering compartments located aft of this. There were 2 holds located forward of the superstructure and 2 located aft of the engineering compartments, with two cranes, one each situated between the fore and aft holds. There was also a small hold at the extreme aft end of the ship and two more ‘tween deck holds forward in the bow.
From the time of the ship’s launch until 1915, the Livorno plied the waters between Hull, London, Constantinople, Novorossick, Odessa, St. Petersburg, and Cronstadt. In 1916 she was transferred to the Manchester/Liverpool-to-St. Petersburg, Russia route, making 6 passages in all. Surviving World War One, she continued providing service for the Wilson Line carrying general cargo and coal for the next few years. At one point being involved in a collision 11 or 19 Decmber 1923 with a ship of the Rodney Steamship Company, the 1,579 GRT cargo ship Rose Marie, near the Haisborough Light Vessel while enroute from Tyne to London with a cargo of coal which resulted in the loss of the Rose Marie. In 1935 the Livorno was sold to the Hellenic, Piraeus, Greece, and renamed the Turkia.
The Livorno/SS Turkia at The Red Sea Wreck Project

Lloyd’s listing for the SS Turkia

As the Turkia, the ship continued carrying general cargo for the Hellenic Line until the start of World War II, at which time the ship was contracted to carry war supplies.

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.

The ship arrived uneventfully in the Red Sea and made it as far as the Gulf of Suez on 17 May 1941 when a fire broke out onboard in hold No. 3 near the Zafarana light.

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.


About Author

Lee has been in the marketing industry for the last 15 years and now specializes in teaching marketing techniques to people in the scuba diving industry. He is founder of Dive Media Solutions which, in addition to providing complete marketing, media, communications and IT solutions exclusively for the scuba diving industry, also produces The Scuba News. You can connect with Lee via Twitter by following @DiveMedia

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