SS Cotati

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Name: Cotati (1919-42)
Empire Avocet (1942)
Owner: United States Shipping Board (1919-37)
United States Maritime Commission (1937-42)
Ministry of War Transport (1942)
Operator: Owner operated except:-
New Zealand Shipping Co (1942)
Port of registry: 22x20px San Francisco (1919-42)
United Kingdom London (1942)
Builder: Moore Shipbuilding Co, Oakland, California
Yard number: 133
Launched: 30 March 1919
Completed: 26 August 1919
Identification: Official Number 218780 (1919-42)
Official Number 168289 (1942)
Code Letters LSMC (1919-33)
Code Letters KJGQ (1933-42)
Code Letters GQYD (1942)
Fate: Sunk by U-125 29 September 1942
General characteristics
Tonnage: 5,963 GRT
Length: 402 feet 4 inches (122.63 m)
Beam: 53 feet (16.15 m)
Depth: 32 feet (9.75 m)
Propulsion: 2 x steam turbines, single reduction geared driving two screws
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h)
Capacity: 807,869 cubic feet (22,876.3 m3) refrigerated cargo space
Complement: 51 plus 7 DEMS gunners (Empire Avocet)

Cotati was a 5,963 ton refrigerated cargo ship[1] which was built in 1919. She was renamed Empire Avocet in 1942 and sunk by U-125 on 29 September 1942.


Cotasi was built by Moore Shipbuilding Co, Oakland, California and launced on 30 March 1919. She was completed on 26 August 1919.[2] Cotati was built for the United States Shipping Board. She was transferred to the United States Maritime Commission in 1937 and laid up in the reserve fleet on 31 December 1939. In 1942, Cotati was transferred to the Ministry of War Transport and renamed Empire Avocet, operating under the management of the New Zealand Shipping Co.[3] Cotati was not renamed immediately as she is recorded as being a member of several convoys during the Second World War.

Convoy SC 79

Cotati was listed as a member of Convoy SC 79, which departed Halifax, Nova Scotia on 11 April 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 27 April, but she did not sail with the convoy.[4]

Convoy SC 80

Cotati was listed as a member of Convoy SC 80, which departed Halifax on 17 April 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 3 May. Although Cotati sailed with the convoy, she later returned to Halifax.[5]

Convoy SC 82

Convoy SC 82 departed Halifax on 30 April 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 16 May. Cotati was the second ship in the convoy to leave port. She was carrying a cargo of frozen meat.[6]

Convoy OS 35

Convoy OS 35 sailed from Liverpool on 21 July 1942 and arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone on 10 August. Empire Avocet was carrying chemicals, machinery and other general cargo destined for Montevideo, Uruguay.[7]


On 9 September 1942, Empire Avocet left Buenos Aires for Freetown. On 21 September she was torpedoed by U-125, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Folkers, some 350 miles (560 km) south west of Freetown (04°05′N 13°23′W / 4.083°N 13.383°W / 4.083; -13.383). U-125 sank her with gunfire. Two crew were killed, two taken prisoner and the remaining 54 were rescued by HMS Cowslip, They were landed at Freetown. Empire Avocet was carrying a cargo of 3,724 tons of meat and 1,225 tons of general cargo.[3]

Official number and code letters

Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers.

Cotati had the US Official Number 218780 and used the Code Letters LSMC[8] and KJGQ[9] Empire Avocet had the UK Official Number 168289 and used the Code Letters GQYD[10]

Further reading

  • Waters, Sydney D (1949). Ordeal by Sea. New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd. pp. p103, 167–171, 247.