SS Justicia

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The Justicia painted grey for wartime service.
Career (UK)
Name: 1914-1916: Statendam
1917-1918: Justicia
Owner: Holland America Line -1915
HM Government (1915-1918)
Operator: White Star Line
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
Laid down: 1912
Launched: 9 July 1914
Completed: 7 April 1917[1]
In service: 1918 as a troopship
Renamed: Justicia
Fate: Sunk after torpedoed six times on 19-20 July 1918. Four torpedoes were from UB-64, and two more torpedoes were from UB-124.
General characteristics
Type: Steamship
Tonnage: 32,234 gross tons
Length: 776 ft (237 m)
Beam: 86 ft (26 m)
Propulsion: triple expansion steam engines turning two outer propellers, plus an exhaust-steam turbine turning the centre propeller.
Speed: 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Capacity: Intended passenger capacity of 3,430 people.
Troops: Approximately 4,000

SS Justicia was a British troopship sunk during the First World War. She was laid down as the SS Statendam, a 32,234 gross-ton ocean liner built for the Holland America Line by Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Before the ship was completed she was acquired by the British government and operated for them by the White Star Line.

After several trips as a troopship she was sunk by submarines off the British Isles in 1918.


On July 9, 1914, she was launched, christened and fitting out began. But before fitting out could be finished, the First World War started and work stopped on her for one year. In 1915, the British government requisitioned the Statendam for use as a troopship. The ship was at first given to the Cunard Line to manage because of the sinking of the Lusitania, and she was renamed Justicia (Latin for justice) because of their traditional ship suffix -ia. Cunard had a hard time getting a crew for the Justicia, so the ship was given to the White Star Line, who had the crew of the sunken Britannic available. The ship’s grey hull was repainted in a dazzle camouflage scheme, and transported troops successfully.


Justicia in dazzle paint

On July 19, 1918, she sailed unladen from Belfast to New York escorted by destroyers.[2] When she was 23 miles south of Skerryvore, Scotland, she was torpedoed by a German Type III Coastal U-boat, UB-64. She took on a list, but fortunately, her watertight compartments were closed in time, preventing her from sinking. However, UB-64 got a clear shot and fired two more torpedoes at Justicia striking her side. The escorts damaged UB-64 who left the area.[1] Most of the crew were evacuated, leaving only a small number on board, and unable to use the engines she was taken in tow by the tug Sonia intending to beach her safely at Lough Swilley, where the water were shallow enough. But then the fourth torpedoes struck the wounded Justicia. The ship still remained afloat. UB-64 had reported Justicia's position. The following day, UB-124 caught up with Justicia and fired two more torpedoes at Justicia at just after 9:00 am. These struck her side and, by noon, remaining crew having been taken off, she rolled over onto her side and sank beneath the waves. In total, she had been hit by six torpedoes. The destroyers Marne, Milbrook, and Pigeon attacked with depth charges and sank UB-124 with gunfire after she surfaced.

Today, she lies 28 mi (45 km) north-west of Malin Head, Ireland in waters 68 metres(223 ft) deep.

See also



cs:SS Justicia nl:Statendam (II)