Thorpebay as Mary

ss Mary before being renamed Thorpebay


Previous name:                               War Comet, Lake Monroe, Mary             
Subsequent name:

Official Number:                              165484                                                                   

Class:                                            Oil Hulk                       

Pennant No:                                             

Laid down:                                     1917
Builder:                                           Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co, Manitowoc, Wisconsin                            
Launched:                                      19 June 1918                     
Into Service:                                   28 May 1943                       
Out of service:                                31 July 1945                      
Fate:                                              5 September 1947 scuttled             


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background:  In December 1916, a Bill was passed by the British Parliament which appointed a Shipping Controller, who was not a Member of the House of Commons, but who was given extensive powers to provide and maintain an effective supply of merchant ships. In particular to combat the alarming losses of merchant ships to enemy action which were then taking place. A decision was made that these vessels were to be of a simple design with hulls and engines to be standardised as much as possible. Numerous orders were placed for ships to be built in the United Kingdom, U.S.A. (through the Cunard Steamship Co), Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and Shanghai. All of these ships were given the WAR prefix to their names



1917 ordered as WAR COMET for the Shipping Controller

17 April 1917 while under construction on the Great Lakes , the Emergency Fleet Corporation came into being after the US declaration of War on Germany

3 August 1917 requisitioned by the United States Shipping Board

19 June 1918 launched by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co, Manitowoc, Wisconsin  as Yard Nr: 90 named LAKE MONROE for the USSB

August 1918 completed and assigned to William H Randall & Co, Boston as Managers. On the Nuevitas, Cuba to New York service until 1920

8 October 1918 while carrying a cargo of coal was in collision with the American fishing schooner HELENE off the coast of Cape Cod

1 December 1918 arrived at Boston

20 April 1919 arrived at Norfolk, Virginia from New York and sailed the same day for Cardenas

3 June 1919 arrived at Norfolk, Virginia from New York

5 September 1919 sailed Charleston, South Carolina while on passage from Cuba to Boston

22 April 1920 passed Key West westbound

29 April 1920 cleared New Orleans

22 June 1920 sailed Port Tampa for Baltimore

19 August 1920 arrived at Philadelphia from London

1920 renamed Mary

1922 chartered by Bull Insular Steamship Co, (A.H. Bull & Co Inc, Managers) New York name unchanged and placed on the Dominican Republic to New York service

1925 chartered by A.H. Bull Steamship Co Inc (A.H. Bull & Co Inc, Managers) New York name unchanged

1936 purchased by Westcliff Shipping Co Ltd, London name unchanged

20 May 1937 managers became G.O. Till, London and renamed THORPEBAY

13 June 1937 sailed Hull for Gibraltar in ballast

29 June 1937 arrived at Gibraltar and sailed the same day

15 July 1937 together with four other British flagged ships attempted to enter Santander, Spain but was warned by British destroyers that if they did the Royal Navy could not provide them with protection. Raised in the House of Commons in questions to the First Lord of the Admiralty

19 August 1937 at Santander, Spain with 2000 refugees, women and children onboard as bombers raided the city. In panic the refugees etc leapt into the holds or ran ashore. The ship sailed without those who had run ashore

6 September 1937 arrived off Gijon

20 September 1937 passed La Coubre

22 October 1937 arrived at Gibraltar from Newport, Wales with a cargo of coal for orders

1 December 1937 sailed Istanbul

16 February 1938 at Oran

5 March 1938 arrived at Oran

12 April 1938 arrived at Marseilles

24 April 1938 sailed Marseilles

21 June 1938 arrived ta Barcelona

June 1938 was damaged by air attack at Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War

17 July 1938 sailed Marseilles

27 August 1938 arrived at Carthagena

10 September 1938 arrived at Marrseilles

15 September 1938 arrived at Port-de-Bouc, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

22 September 1938 sailed Port-de-Bouc, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

3 October 1938 was again damaged during a similar air attack. The stern was hit wrecking the steering gear and damaging the engines - there were no injuries. The ship was loaded with a cargo of coal

4 October 1938 the Shields Daily News reported -

Press Cutting Shields Daily News 4 10 1938 Thorpebay

14 October 1938 arrived at Marseilles

1 January 1939 arrived at Port-du-Bouc, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

23 January 1939 badly damaged yet again when bombed at Barcelona with half her bridge blown off - the 2nd Officer, William McLennan of Fleetwood and a Greek mess room boy Michael Vlastros were killed

26 January 1939 was taken to Marseilles

5 February 1939 arrived at Marseilles

8 March 1939 arrived at Gibraltar

11 January 1940 damaged after a fire on the River Tyne

2 June 1941 damaged by German bombing 6 miles off the Coquet Lighthouse and had to return to the Tyne

17 June 1941 arrived Scapa Flow under tow

28 May 1943 to 10 October 1944 served as a hulk at Scapa Flow for the MoWT and had a Chief Officer, Second Officer and Second Engineer appointed to her

10 December 1943 Chief Officer Harry P Masters appointed as Chief Officer in command

18 February 1945 in the ships articles of this date the Master is shown as Chief Officer John P Sparling with a crew of 25



Chief Officer John P Sparling


10 May 1947 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard being towed westward by the HMRT Empire Sandy


Empire Sandy

HMRT Empire Sandy after being renamed Chris M


8 September 1947 was scuttled in the North Atlantic with a cargo of poison gas shells in position 47.47.3 N 08.21 W in a water depth of 1500m


Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website, by continuing to use the site you agree to cookies being used. More info.