SS Empire Blessing

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Name: Empire Blessing
Owner: Ministry of War Transport
Operator: W Runciman & Co Ltd
Port of registry: United Kingdom Sunderland
Builder: Bartram & Sons Ltd, Sunderland
Yard number: 298
Launched: 1 October 1943
Completed: January 1944
Out of service: 19 March 1945
Identification: UK Official Number 180054
Code Letters GCTW
Fate: Mined and sunk, 19 March 1945
General characteristics
Tonnage: 7,064 GRT
4,885 NRT
Length: 431 feet (131.37 m)
Beam: 56 feet 3 inches (17.15 m)
Depth: 35 feet 2 inches (10.72 m)
Propulsion: Triple expansion steam engine

Empire Blessing was a cargo ship which was built in 1943 by Bartram & Sons Ltd, Sunderland. She was built for the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and operated under the management of W Runciman & Co Ltd. In March 1945, Empire Blessing struck a mine in the River Scheldt and sank.


Empire Blessing was a 7,064 GRT cargo ship. She was built by Bartram & Sons Ltd, Sunderland,[1] as yard number 298. The ship was launched on 1 October 1943 and completed in January 1944.[2] She was 431 feet (131.37 m) long, with a beam of 56 feet 3 inches (17.15 m) and a depth of 35 feet 2 inches (10.72 m).[3] The ship was powered by a triple expansion steam engine which had cylinders of 24½ inches (62 cm), 39 inches (99 cm) and 70 inches (180 cm) diameter by 48 inches (120 cm) stroke. It was manufactured by Worthington Simpson Ltd, Newark on Trent.[3]


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

ON 220

Convoy ON 220 sailed from Loch Ewe on 15 January 1944, bound for Canada and the United States. Empire Blessing set off in the convoy, but returned to Loch Ewe.[4]

ONS 29

Convoy ONS 29 sailed from Oban on 13 February 1944, bound for Canada and the United States.[5]

HX 291

Convoy HX 291 departed Halifax, Nova Scotia on 10 May 1944 and arrived at Liverpool on 27 May. Empire Blessing was carrying a cargo of sugar and was bound for the Inverness Firth to await further orders.[6]

Empire Blessing was involved in the Normandy Landings in June 1944.[7] On 19 March 1945, Empire Blessing struck a mine in the River Scheldt at Knocke, Belgium (51°24′N 3°17′E / 51.4°N 3.283°E / 51.4; 3.283) and sank. On 13 February 1950, MV Seablue (formerly Empire Seablue) struck the wreck of Empire Blessing and was holed. Although attempts were made to beach Seablue, she sank 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) west south west of Vlissingen, Netherlands.[1][2]

Official Numbers and Code Letters

Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers. Empire Blessing had the UK Official Number 180054 and used the Code Letters GCTW.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 ""1180054"" (subscription required). Miramar Ship Index. R.B. Haworth. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Lloyd's register, Steamers & Motorships". Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  4. "ON Convoys – 1941-1945, Convoy ON 201 through ON 2491". Warsailors. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  5. "ONS Convoys – 1943-1945, Convoy ONS 1 through ONS 51". Warsailors. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  6. "CONVOY HX 291". Warsailors. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  7. "Walter Bennett's Experiences". BBC. Retrieved 25 November 2009.