SS Helena Modjeska

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SS Helena Modjeska
SS Helena Modjeska.jpg
The SS Helena Modjeska is shown off the coast of Kent in England after breaking in two during a heavy storm - photo - US National Archives
Name Helena Modjeska
Launched 6 Nov 1944
Completed November 1944
In service 1944
Out of service 16 Nov 1946
Fate wrecked on Goodwin Sands 1946 and scrapped 1947
General characteristics
Type Liberty cargo EC2
Tonnage 7,176 tons
Length 134.57 m
Beam 17.3 m
Depth 8.5m
Propulsion 2 oil fired boilers, single screw
Speed 11 knots


Commissioned on Nov. 6, 1944, the SS Helena Modjeska, that had a civilian crew of about 70 and a 20-man naval armed guard in charge of its deck guns and anti-aircraft batteries, plied the world’s oceans during and following the end of WW II, delivering and receiving troops and heavy cargoes such as tanks, trucks, aircraft and railroad stock. On Nov. 16, 1946, 13 months following the end of WW II, the SS Helena Modjeska’s life was to end ingloriously less than two years after its launching and commissioning.

Carrying a full cargo of Army trucks and tanks lashed to her deck and stored in the hold, the ship struck an underwater reef on the treacherous Goodwin Sands off England’s Kent coast during a heavy storm and became dead in the water, listing badly. A dozen German prisoners who had escaped from a prisoner of war camp in England and had stowed away in the Helena Modjeska’s hold managed to escape during the storm and they were rounded up two days after the ship broke in two.

Soon, the ship broke in two and both sections floated away from one another. The crewmembers on each section were rescued by nearby fishing boats, witht he Captain later dying of a heart attack in his hotel room. Both sections of the SS Helena Modjeska were towed to port and broken up into scrap.

Soldiers carried