SS Empire Airman (1941)

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Name: Empire Airman (1942-46)
San Wenceslao (1946-59)
Owner: Ministry of War Transport (1941-46)
Eagle Oil & Transport Co (1946-59)
Operator: Eagle Oil & Transport Co (1942-59)
Port of registry: Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Sunderland
Builder: Sir J Laing & Sons Ltd., Sunderland
Yard number: 739
Launched: 18 November 1941
Completed: January 1942
Identification: UK Official Number 169009
Code letters BCWX
Fate: Scrapped in Hong Kong, 1959
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 9,813 GRT
Length: 484 feet (147.52 m)
Beam: 68 feet 3 inches (20.80 m)
Depth: 36 feet 1 inch (11.00 m)
Propulsion: 1 x triple expansion steam engine (North East Marine Engineering Co (1938) Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne) 674 hp (503 kW)
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h)

Empire Airman was a 9,813 ton tanker which was built in 1941. She was renamed San Wenceslao in 1946 and served until 1959 when she was scrapped.


Empire Airman was built by Sir J Laing & Sons Ltd, Sunderland as yard number 739. She was launched on 18 November 1941 and completed in January 1942. Empire Airman was owned by the Ministry of War Transport[1] and operated under the management of the Eagle Oil & Transport Co.[2]

War service

Empire Airman was a member of a number of convoys during the Second World War.

HX 178

Convoy HX 178 departed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 3 March 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 17 March.[3]

SL 112

Convoy SL 112 departed from Freetown on 4 June 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 23 June. Empire Airman joined the convoy at sea, being en route from Aruba to Belfast laden with oil and motor spirit.[4]


Convoy KMS 5 departed the Clyde on 11 December 1942, and arrived at Gibraltar on 24 December and Bone on 27 December.


Convoy MKS 16A departed Tripoli on 29 June 1943 and arrived at Gibraltar on 6 July.[5]

From 1944, Empire Airman was under charter to an American oil company to carry aviation fuel. She operated between Williamstown on the Yarra River and various Pacific islands, including New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.[6]

Post war service

In 1946, Empire Airman was sold to her operators, and renamed San Wenceslao.[2] She served for thirteen years and arrived for scrapping in Hong Kong on 20 July 1959.[1]

Official number and code letters

Official numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers.

Empire Airman had the Official Number 169009 on Lloyd's Register and used the Code Letters BCWX[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 ""1169009"" (subscription required). Miramar Ship Index. R.B. Haworth. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Empire - A". Mariners. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  3. "CONVOY HX 178". Warsailors. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  4. "ConvoySL.112". Convoyweb. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  5. "Convoy MKS.16A". Convoyweb.!~mksmain. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  6. "Mr D W Halden's story". BBC. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  7. "STEAMERS & MOTORSHIPS". Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 

External links

  • Photo of SS San Wenceslao