'Scots Navy' as the Clan Line was affectionately known throughout two world wars, paid heavily for being in the thick of
the action. During WW2 the company lost a total of 30 ships, and post war recovery commenced in 1946 with the construction
of the 6 vessels of the 'Clan MacLaren' class (commonly known as the 'MacL's'), which had all entered service by 1949. The
immediate tonnage shortage was plugged by the acquisition of a number of wartime standard construction ships which played
an important role in the Clan Line fleet until 1962. By that time the first vessels of the penultimate Clan Line design,
the engines aft 'Clan MacIver' class, had already entered service.
The third type of Clan Line 'Empire' was represented by a single ship, CLAN MACRAE (above), which saw Clan Line service between 1946 and 1959. She was built as the EMPIRE MIGHT by Greenock Dockyard in 1942 and was managed for the Ministry of War Transport by Blue Star Line until purchased by Clan Line in 1946. A much larger ship than the other 'Empires' she was classed as a 'fast cargo liner' and had a gross tonnage of 9,209 tons, twin screw turbines with a service speed of 16 knots and 306,400 cu. ft. of refrigerated cargo space. This ship was very similar to the pre-war Clan Line class built between 1937 and 1939, the first of which was CLAN CAMERON.
On leaving Clan Line service in 1959, CLAN MACRAE was transferred to Bullard & King as UMGENI, then in 1960 to Sprinbok Shipping as the GEMSBOK and in 1961 to Safmarine as SOUTH AFRICAN FINANCIER, these all being associated companies. She went to the scrapyard in 1962.
It is interesting to note that the name EMPIRE MIGHT was also briefly allocated to another Clan Line ship in 1941. This was CLAN BUCHANAN (a near sister of CLAN MACRAE) which, although laid down for Clan Line was taken over by the Admiralty on the stocks, firstly for intended conversion into an armed boarding vessel, then as an auxiliary sea-plane carrier, but she was eventually completed as an aircraft transport and named HMS ENGADINE. She did not bear her proper Clan Line name until 1946.
Above, the CLAN MACBETH (ex-OCEAN GLORY) is an example of the Clan Line 'Oceans'.
These were part of a group of 60 ships constructed in the USA and delivered in 1942 to a British order and design. The design was again based on the 1938 J.L. Thompson-built DORRINGTON COURT, as a result of the British Shipbuilding Mission to the USA in September 1940, in an urgent move to replace tonnage lost to enemy action in the first twelve months of the war. DORRINGTONN COURT herself did not survive the war, being sunk on November 24th 1942 by U-181 south-east of Lourenco Marques.
The first of tthe 'Oceans' was named OCEAN VANGUARD on October 15th 1941. All 60 ships were built in two yards. Todd-California Shipyard, Richmond, California and Todd-Bath Shipyard of Portland, Maine. They were of 7,174 gross tons with a service speed of 11 knots.
As would be expected, in view of their origins, the 'Oceans' were very similar in profile to the 'B' type 'Empire' design. The main differences were that in the latter the funnel was located further aft, and in the former the kingposts for No. 3 hatch derricks were located immediately forward of the funnel. The 'Empires' also had more sheer in the forward section with a pronounced fo'castle head, whereas the 'Oceans' had a flush deck.
OCEAN VANGUARD was another war loss, surviving less than a year when she was sunk by U-515 on September 13th 1942 east of Trinidad. In total, over one third of the 60 'Oceans' were lost before the end of the war. Amongst those that survived were the nine which eventually bore Clan Line names, as the following list shows:
THE CLAN LINE 'LIBERTIES':
The CLAN MACFARLANE, below, did not last long after leaving Clan Line service in 1961. She was sold to a Lebanese company and renamed NICHOLAS, but was caught by a typhoon off the Japanese coast on October 10th 1961 and abandoned after being driven aground.
CLAN MACFADYEN was much luckier and sailed on until 1971 under the name BETAVISTA (Greek) and VARUNA DEVI (Indian).
Over 200 'Liberties' were lost during the war and others were the victim of structural failures, but many far outlasted their
expected lifespans. In 1994 we were vividly reminded of these wartime vessels by the arrival in British waters of the beautifully
restored JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of 'D' Day.
The CLAN MACILWRAITH, above, was built in the Greenock Dockyard Co. and had a Wallsend-Doxford diesel of 5,400 bhp which gave her a service speed of 14 knots. Virtually an 'engines-aft' ship, she had four of her five holds forward of the machinery. This basic layout was common to the Clan Line's final series, one which comprised 16 ships built over the years 1958/67. The last of these was the CLAN ALPINE, the company's final ship thus bearing the name of its first. Just as the speed of later ships was stepped up, so other features varied in detail, the CLAN MACILWRAITH and her John Brown-built sister ship CLAN MACINDOE being the only ones to be given three bipod masts.
CLAN MACILWRAITH became the GOLDEN CITY and her active career came to an end in July of 1986 while she was on a voyage from Shanghai for Dubai. After leaving Singapore Roads she was in position 05.04N and 58.0E when she was immobilised by a combination of engine trouble and fire in her cargo holds. This necessitated a long tow back to Singapore which was reached on July 24th and where her cargo was eventually discharged.
She was sold to the breakers in December of that year.
It may be interesting to note that, in view of the considerable tonnage lost within the Clan Line group during the war, ultimately British & Commonwealth, which also included Union-Castle, were permitted to sport Royal Navy officer's braid which included the loop or circle based on the straight gold band.
PLEASE SCROLL TO THE TOP LEFT FOR ANOTHER SELECTION.