RFA Maine (1924)

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Name: SS Leonardo da Vinci (1925-43)
SS Empire Clyde (1943-47)
RFA Empire Clyde (1947-48)
RFA Maine (1948-54)
Namesake: Leonardo da Vinci
Owner: Società di Navigazione Transatlantica Italiana (1925-37
Lloyd Triestine (1937-41)
Ministry of War Transport (1941-45)
Ministry of Transport (1945-48)
Admiralty (1948-54)
Operator: Società di Navigazione Transatlantica Italiana (1925-37
Lloyd Triestine (1937-41)
City Line (1941-48)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (1948-54)
Port of registry: 22x20px Genoa (1925-41)
United Kingdom Mombasa (1941-43)
United Kingdom London (1943-48)
United Kingdom Royal Fleet Auxiliary (1948-54)
Builder: Ansaldo, Muggiano, Italy
Launched: 28 December 1924
Acquired: by capture, 1941
Commissioned: 1947, as RFA Empire Clyde
Decommissioned: 1954
Identification: Code Letters NVJA (1925-34)
Code Letters IBPS (1934-41)
Code Letters VRTV (1941-43)
Code Letters GCFB (1943-54)
Italian Official Number 1306 (1924-41)
United Kingdom Official Number 159356 (1941-54)
Honours and
Korea (1950)
Fate: Scrapped, 1954
General characteristics
Class and type: Ocean liner (1925-41)
Hospital ship (1941-54)
Tonnage: 7,432 GRT
4,096 NRT
Length: 427 feet 1 inch (130.18 m)
Beam: 52 feet 5 inches (15.98 m)
Depth: 36 feet 0 inches (10.97 m)
Installed power: 6 steam turbines
Propulsion: 2 Screw propellors

RFA Maine was a 7,432 GRT hospital ship which was built in 1924 as the ocean liner Leonardo da Vinci by SA Ansaldo, La Spezia, Italy for the Società di Navigazione Transatlantica Italiana. In 1941, she was captured by the British at Kismayu, Italian Somaliland. Declared a prize of war, she was passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and renamed Empire Clyde, serving as a hospital ship for the British Army during the Second World War. In 1948, ownership was passed to the Admiralty and she entered service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as RFA Maine. She served during the Korean War and was scrapped in 1954.


The ship was built by SA Ansaldo, La Spezia, Italy.[1] She was launched on 28 December 1924.[2]

The ship was 427 feet 1 inch (130.18 m) long, with a beam of 52 feet 5 inches (15.98 m) and a depth of 36 feet 0 inches (10.97 m). She had a GRT of 7,432 and a NRT of 4,096. She was propelled by six steam turbines, double reduction geared, driving twin screw propellors. The turbines were built by Ansaldo Sampierdarena.[1]


Leonardo da Vinci was built for Società di Navigazione Transatlantica Italiana. Her port of registry was Genoa. The Italian Official Number 1306 and Code Letters NVJA were allocated.[1] In 1934, her Code Letters were changed to IBPS.[3] In 1937, Leonardo da Vinci was sold to Lloyd Triestino, Trieste. On 14 February 1941,[4] she was captured by HMS Shropshire.[5] At the time, Leonardo da Vinci was at Kismayu, Italian Somaliland. She was passed to the MoWT as a war prize.[4] Her port of registry was changed to Mombasa, Kenya, under the British Flag. The Code Letters VRTV and United Kingdom Official Number 159356 were allocated. She was placed under the management of the City Line.[6]

Leonardo da Vinci was a member of Convoy HX 255, which departed New York on 2 September 1943 and arrived at Liverpool on 16 September. She was carrying general cargo and was bound for Glasgow.[7] Later in 1943, Leonardo da Vinci was renamed Empire Clyde.[4] Her Code Letters were changed to GCFB and her port of registry was changed to London.[8] She was converted to a hospital ship for the British Army.[2][4]

In 1947 she was commissioned as RFA Empire Clyde, with a Royal Navy medical team aboard. In 1948 she was renamed RFA Maine, the fourth Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship to bear that name. When the Korean War broke out, Maine was initially the only hospital ship serving in the area. On 14 July 1950. Maine arrived at Pusan, South Korea, from where she ran a service carrying casualties to Fukuoka, Japan. On 10 October 1951, Maine lost a propellor whilst passing through the Shimonoseki Straits. USS Reclaimer and USS Yuma took her under tow. On 1 December 1952, USS Ashtabula caught fire at Sasebo harbour, Japan. USS Ajax was damaged. Maine treated casualties from these ships. For her service, Maine was awarded a Korean War battle honour.[2] She was used briefly as a temporary Royal Yacht until replaced by HMY Britannia.[citation needed] Maine was scrapped at Hong Kong in April 1954.[2]