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From SN Guides
Guide entry commenced by Benjidog on 30/08/07 - work in progress
SS Moldavia was the first of the P&O "M" Series passenger liners and, like her later sister-ship RMS Morea, she was named after a historic area of Europe - in this case a remote principality which became a part of the present-day Romania.
SS Moldavia was launched at 11:00 on Saturday 28 March 1903 with the naming ceremony being performed by the daughter of Sir Thomas Sutherland the Chairman of P&O. Moldavia cost P&O £336,178. She was torpedoed and sunk towards the end of WW1.
HMS Moldavia joined 10th Cruiser Squadron whose role was to enforce a blockade between the North of Scotland and Iceland. The Squadron intercepted merchant ships, put an armed guard aboard and ensured they sailed to an Allied port where the cargo was inspected. The Squadron was based at Busto Voe in the Shetland Islands (mainly used for coaling) with repairs being carried out on the Clyde.
She intercepted various ships and escorted them to port for inspection. Her gunners were called upon to finish off an abandoned ship SS Patio in November 1916.
On 9 February 1917 she intercepted an Italian merchant ship called SS Famiglia which had already been intercepted by a German U-boat who had put an armed guard aboard and ordered her to sail to Germany. When stopped by HMS Moldavia the Germans scuttled her with explosive charges and the ship was abandoned. The crew were picked up and taken to Loch Ewe
On 30 July 1930 HMS Moldavia moved to new duties as an escort to convoys between West Africa and Plymouth. In November 1917 she left Freetown for Plymouth carrying 609 cases of gold bullion and arrived safely at Plymouth two weeks later.
In March 1918 she was dispatched to Canada and on 11 May 1918 left Halifax as an escort to convoy HC1 bound for London. She carried both cargo and 477 men from the US Army 28th Regiment. On 23 May 1918 off Beachy Head, she was struck on the port bow by a torpedo fired by UB-57, commanded by Johann Los, and badly damaged. She first took a 25 degree list to port, then came upright again before gradually listing to starboard. According to accounts posted on the Internet (not checked with original sources), she continued to steam ahead for about 15 minutes before starting to sink and had sunk 20 minutes later. Captain Adrian H Smythe RN ordered the ship to be abandoned and she sank under the waters of the channel at 03:50. There were no crew losses, but 56 American Servicemen who were in a compartment near where the torpedo struck, lost their lives.
According to External Reference #3 She was a huge ship with over 1000 portholes, some but not all have been recovered. She lies on her port side with depth to the highest point at 30 metres. Fitted with eight 6 inch guns, two of which can be seen at the stern where much of the decking is still in place. It is possible to swim through some of the cabins where light fixtures and brass bathroom taps have been recovered.