Empire Confidence

5th July 2005, 15:48
Has anyone got any information on the Empire Confidence.

I am trying to get the information for an 80 year young ex mariner who sailed on her during WWII. I've got information for all his ships except this one, and it's got me beat.(?HUH)
I've checked all my books & magazines, the only website with any info is "mariners-l.co.uk". It's as if she never existed!
The only information I can find is that is:
Built by Bremer Vulkan Schiffswerft & Maschinenfabrik, Bremen - Vegesack in 1935.
1935 , North German Lloyd, Bremen.
15/12/1939 Captured by the Royal Navy near Antofasta Chile, renamed Kingston.
1940 renamd Poland, MOWT.
1940 renamed Empire Confidence, MOWT, managed by Royal Mail Line.
1945 renamed Star of El Nil, On charter to Alexandria Nav.Co, Egypt.
1948 Laid up.
1950 renamed Spenser (3), Sold to Lamport & Holt Ltd, Liverpool.
1955 renamed Roscoe, Lamport & Holt Ltd, Liverpool. .
1962 Scrapped, Bilbao, Spain.

fred henderson
5th July 2005, 16:18
Hi Stevecz

I can add a little to your information.
She was built as the Dusseldorf for the Norddeutscher Lloyd west coast of South America service.
6,334 tons; 131 oa X 16.7 X6.7 m; single screw; MAN 6 cylinder diesel.
Captured by the light cruiser HMS Despatch.
She was laid up in Bidston Dock, Birkenhead in 1948, then moved to the Clyde the following year.
Lamport & Holt had her refitted by Harland & Wolff, Belfast

This may help someone else remember more.


5th July 2005, 16:49
Thanks R & Fred,
It's given me some more to go at too.
This is truely an amazing site, to get answers so quickly. http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/images/icons/icon7.gif
Keep the info coming, perhaps even a picture?

michael james
5th July 2005, 18:08
Gross tonnage I have is 5023 GT from the Empire website as opposed to 6334 which Fred had found, which is correct I know not

6th July 2005, 15:43
I think Lloyds confirms it, 6334 is what I have, but from where I can't remember.
All these bits of info keep adding to the file,

fred henderson
6th July 2005, 16:50
Both tonnages may be correct. I have seen a description of her having a part second deck. A bit of fancy work with a hatch cover to create a tonnage hatch and you may be able to persuade a surveyor to reduce the gross tonnage measurement and thereby reduce port fees.


6th July 2005, 17:01
Could be, she had some sort of re-fit at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, sometime around 1950. It was done for Lamport & Hollt but don't know how "Major" it was.

6th July 2005, 19:47
Has anyone got any information on the Empire Confidence

Hi Steve,

Almost your lucky day. The 2nd Edition of the Empire Ships has a sizeable chunk of interesting information about her. The downside is I don't have time to transcribe it right away, and it's not a book to try and wedge in the scanner.

I'll get round to it as soon as I can, but it'll take me an hour to type it up.


6th July 2005, 20:56
Hi Steve,

I'll get round to it as soon as I can, but it'll take me an hour to type it up.

Well, that was a fair appraisal of my inability to type, it did take an hour:

Empire Confidence 5,023 gt,
Built. Bremer Vulkan Schiff- und Masch., Vegesack, in 1935 as Dusseldorf for Norddeutscher LIoyd, Bremen. 415 ft X 55 ft. Engines: Oil.

September 1939:
Took refuge in Valparaiso, Chile, at outbreak of war.

December 1939:
Sailed, in order to proceed to Antofagasta to load fuel, ready for an attempt to break the British blockade and return to Germany.

15th December 1939:
Captured off Punta Caldera, Chile, by cruiser H. M. S. Despatch. Taken into Antofagasta with Chilean permission for repairs and fuel. She was then taken, as a prize, to Jamaica under the temporary name of Poland in order to make her appearance 'less German- like'.

1940. Empire Confidence (M. 0.W. T.).
1945. Star of El Nil (chartered to Alexandria Nav. Co., Egypt).
1950: Spenser (Lamport & Holt Ltd.).
1955: Renamed Roscoe.
1962: Scrapped Bilbao.

Note: The somewhat unusual temporary name of Poland given to the ship when captured off Chile, in the South Pacific, was accounted for by the fact that the warship which captured her, H.M.S. Despatch, was commanded by Commodore Alan Poland.

The Empire Confidence was equipped with German M.A.N. type engines. There were no spares in Britain and replacement parts had to be copied from existing parts. She frequently suffered from the bending of her piston rods, a problem which even the Germans had not solved. Nevertheless, some of her exploits will help to exemplify similar wartime service given by hundreds of such vessels while under the jurisdiction of the M.O.W.T.

On 23rd October 1942, the Battle of Alamein commenced, the turning point of the war in the deserts of Egypt. Allied forces there formed one claw of a proposed pincer movement on the enemy: the other was an army aboard ships already at sea, taking a force to Morocco and Algeria. The first convoy for French North Africa sailed from the Clyde on 22nd October 1942. With it was Empire Confidence, carrying landing craft, military vehicles, guns, ammunition and cased petrol.

Joining up with troop transports, the ships subsequently anchored in Arzu Bay. A large force was ferried ashore and Oran fell into Allied hands.

On 12th November Empire Confidence sailed for home, but was back at Oran on 6th January 1943 with another military cargo. On 7th May, the Allies entered Tunis and Bizerta and were planning to invade Sicily.

The Empire Confidence was again fitted out for the task and she left the Clyde in a thirty-ship convoy at the end of June 1943. By the 9th July more convoys were assembling in the Bay of Tripoli. Then, as the invasion of Sicily commenced, the ship took her allotted position off the southern tip of the island and discharged her vital cargo.

Following orders, she sailed at exactly 8 pm, on the 11th, at which time other ships, from precisely-timed convoys, were arriving to take up the vacated places. Then Empire Confidence loaded explosives it Algiers, took aboard 400 servicemen and sailed for Salerno. Landings here started on 9th September and the ship then shuttled for six weeks between Tripoli, Alexandria. Augusta and Bari with supplies for the 8th Army.

After her Mediterranean experiences the ship was sent to Baltimore, loading cargo for Karachi and Bombay. She was at Bombay when the Fort Stikine blew up, causing widespread destruction to the port and the city.

Empire Confidence, although damaged, was towed away to safety, But the destruction caused some famine in the area and the ship was sent to Australia for grain. On the way back to India she picked up survivors of the Helen Moller (1918, 5,259 gt) which had been sunk by torpedo. Empire Confidence arrived back in the U.K., at Hull, on 15th August 1944.

I found the above very interesting myself, and I hope your mate will be happy to hear such lengthy detail. It is so frequent that we find history has left us little more of a ship's exploits than a footnote that it was torpedoed in some convoy.

The above is my extrapolation of information provided in the book I mentioned above. The ISBN is 1 85044 275 4. It is pretty expensive in terms of list price for the hardbacked edition, however I bought it at a very handsome discount from Motorbooks.co.uk. I'd recommend it and anything else written by Mitchell and Sawyer. Over the years they've made a great contribution to the recording of our maritime history. We should show our appreciation by buying the books. (Applause)

Dave (Thumb)

6th July 2005, 21:15

I think it is us the members of this forum that should be showing our appreciation to you, for the work you have just done.

I found it very interesting as I am sure will many other members. I am also sure that Steve and his friend will be very happy.

Well done Dave (Applause)


7th July 2005, 01:45
Many thanks for this Major piece of work, if you don't mind I will add this to my file. I will be out tomorroow looking for the book, it seems to be a font of information.
Some of the dates may ring a bell with the ancient mariner, I will keep you all informed.
Where does the name "Kingston" come into it or is this a red herring?????

Again, thanks for your efforts. What a site this is!



7th July 2005, 07:37
Many thanks for this Major piece of work, if you don't mind I will add this to my file. I will be out tomorrow looking for the book, it seems to be a font of information. Steve
Steve don't waste your time or money, buy it online. I have just checked at motorbooks.co.uk and they still have it as shown below:

The Empire Ships.(2nd ed)
A Record Of British Built & Aquired Ships In WW2.
MARITIME was 52.00 - save 27.00
Mitchell & Sawyer. 1 85044 2754 25.00

This is a really thick, hardbacked book. I've bought a few books off them and they have been reliable.

The book doesn't give so much detail about every ship of course, you got lucky, but it is a truly great book, as I said, along with all the others these guys have written.

It's a real pleasure to be able to help, and of course you can add the information to your file.

Dave (Thumb)

7th July 2005, 10:15
Thanks again Dave,
Not only did you get the information for me, but you've saved me 27.00 as well!!

Dunolly Castle
9th April 2010, 06:22
Marvellous history of the Empire Confidence, DaveM. My uncle, Surtees Dodd, was chief engineer of the Helen Moller some of whose survivors the EC took to Fremantle. The rest were picked up by HMS Okapi and taken to the Maldives.
Is there any way of learning which group my uncle was in?
My uncle was given an OBE in connection with the Helen Moller. Lots of verification of the fact, but I can find absolutely nothing on the reason.

stan mayes
9th April 2010, 16:06
During October 1941 I was in the Eagle Oil Co Tanker San Emiliano.
Waiting for convoy at Halifax I met some of the crew of Empire Confidence in the Seamens Mission and I recall being told that she was a captured ship and had a few passengers aboard for the UK.
Later we sailed in convoy HX 156 and records show Empire Confidence in Position 51 which is 5th Column 1st ship and San Emiliano in Position 82..
The convoy was entirely escorted by the US Navy.
On 31st October the convoy was attacked and the destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by U552. She erupted into a huge fireball and I witnessed this at dawn from our position about a mile from this tragedy.
Only 45 survivors from a crew of 160.
This incident occurred a few weeks before the Americans entered the war and Reuben James was the first ship lost..