SS Helena Modjeska
From Our Contribution
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.