Ex Hospital Ship 61, Prague
Steel twin screw turbine steamer built in 1930 at John Brown & Co Ltd, Clydebank (Yard No 528) as a passenger and mail ferry for the British Transport Commission (L.N.E.R.).
- Length: 107.04 m (overall) m (between perpendiculars)
Breadth: 15.25 m
Depth: 7.93 m
Draught: 4.27 m
Tonnage: 4220 gross/1988 net/3028t deadweight
Engines: 4 SR Brown/Curtis steam turbines
Power: kW/1520 bHP
Speed: 21.0 knots
Capacity: 444 1st class passengers/ 104 2nd class passengers
Call Sign: GNBJ
- Register Number (1945): 31563
Official Number: 161036
Port of Registry: Harwich/UK
Sister Ships: Vienna (II), Amsterdam (II)
November 18th 1929: Launched.
February 1930: Delivered to British Transport Commission (London North Eastern Region) she was installed between Harwich – Hook of Holland.
TS Prague (as she appeared on delivery)
September 1st 1939: Service closed and made her last pre-war trip between Harwich – Hook of Holland.
December 12th 1939: Arrived in Southampton to join the troop leave fleet,
December 17th 1939: Taken over by the Royal Navy and sailed on the first of a series of crossings to Cherbourg/Le Havre and occasionally Brest.
January 29th 1940: Ran aground in Cherbourg and safely reached Southampton. Withdrawn for repairs.
April 23rd 1940: Resumed Transport duties.
May 27th 1940: Sailed to Dover.
May 28th 1940: With PARIS (IV) and MANXMAN set out for Dunkirk. The other two vessels grounded.
May 29th 1940: Under way again and all three arrived at Dunkirk.
May 29th 1940: Embarked 1,872 British troops.
May 29th 1940: Arrived in Folkestone.
May 30th 1940: Further crossing to Dunkirk. Upon arrival she immediately started to embark troops (1,039), hoping to sail before the falling tide stranded her.. However, by the time she was ready, she was aground. With the combined effort of two tugs and her engines at full power, managed to free herself.
May 31st 1940: Arrived in Folkestone.
June 1st 1940: Again headed for Dunkirk. Under intense air attacks, tied up in the outer harbour. Some 3,000 French troops had boarded by the time she left. Dive bombed by one of six bombers. Three bombs land so close to her that her stern lifted out of the water. She was not actually hit but was badly damaged aft. A decision was made to transfer her troops to three other vessels. Tug LADY BRASSEY had the vessel in tow and, at a spot one mile north of Deal she was gently beached.
DHB Lady Brassey
June 7th 1940: After pumps were installed and basic leaks provisionally stopped, LADY BRASSEY towed her free.
DHB Lady Brassey towing PRAGUE free
June 8th 1940: Taken up the Thames to SW West India Dock by the tugs TANGA and SUN XII.
September 30th 1940: Transferred from military to naval service in order that she be converted into a “Fast Oiler” replenishment tanker.
November 8th 1940: Returned to the military. Her sister VIENNA II had been selected for the conversion instead.
July 1941: In dry-dock for underwater repairs.
October 15th 1941: Repairs completed and exactly two months later she left the Thames but put back again, when electrical and other faults developed as a result of thew ship’s lengthy period of inactivity.
December 22nd 1941: Arrived in Aberdeen.
January 13th 1942: Once again carrying troops, this time on the Invergordon-Orkney-Shetland route.
March 23rd 1944: Arrived at Aberdeen from Lerwick for the last time.
March 28th 1944: Left Aberdeen for North Shields to undergo conversion to a military hospital vessel
May 29th 1944: Left the Tyne for the Thames Estuary as HOSPITAL CARRIER No 61. Assigned to American Western Task Force for Operation Neptune (Allied invasion of Normandy).
Hospital Carrier No 61
June 7th 1944: Made her first crossing and thereafter remained in regular service to the beach-heads, to Cherbourg and to Dieppe..
June 11th 1945: Final arrival at Southampton and released to her owners, where she was given an austerity refit.
November 3rd 1945: Left Southampton for Harwich.
TS Prague – (November 1945)
November 14th 1945: First ship on the re-opened service from Hook of Holland (3 x per week).
December 25th 1947: Made her last sailing and was replaced by ORANJE NASSAU. She left the service for an overhaul at Clydebank where…..
……on March 14th 1948 a fire broke out in the engine room, followed by an explosion. The vessel listed to the quayside and sank. She was declared a total loss. Following on she was eventually towed to Barrow for scrap.
September 14th 1948: Arrived at T.W. Ward Ltd, Barrow and scrapping commenced.
All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright.
Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)