Rudyard Kipling (ship)

The Rudyard Kipling was a British steam trawler launched in 1920 that undertook fishing operations off the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland for almost 20 years. On 16 September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, the trawler was captured 40 miles (64 km) west of Clare Island by the German submarine U-27. After removing food, equipment, and the crew from the ship, the Germans sunk her with the use of scuttling charges. Several hours later the crew of the Rudyard Kipling were cast adrift 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) off the coast of Ireland. They eventually landed their lifeboats at Killybegs.

The steam trawler Rudyard Kipling.
United Kingdom
Name: Rudyard Kipling
  • Newington Steam Trawling Co Ltd, Hull (1920–1934)[1]
  • Sun Steam Trawling Co Ltd, Fleetwood (1934–1939)[1]
Port of registry:
Builder: Cochrane & Sons Ltd, Selby[1]
Yard number: 686[2]
Launched: 11 November 1920[2]
Completed: February 1921[1]
In service: 1920–1939[1][2]
Identification: FD 33[1]
Fate: Sunk by U-27 on 16 September 1939[1][2]
General characteristics [1][2]
Tonnage: 333
Length: 138.8 ft (42.3 m)
Beam: 23.7 ft (7.2 m)
Draught: 12.9 ft (3.9 m)
Propulsion: T.3-cylinder by C. D. Holmes & Co Ltd, Hull
Crew: 13

The Rudyard Kipling was the 27th merchant ship, the 26th British merchant ship, and the second British trawler to be sunk by a German U-boat in World War II.

Construction and design

The Rudyard Kipling was constructed in the town of Selby by the shipbuilder Cochrane & Sons Ltd. The trawler was launched from yard number 686 on 11 November 1920. Named the Rudyard Kipling by the ship's owner Newington Steam Trawling Co Ltd., she was registered in the port of Hull on 4 February 1921 and completed later that month.[1][3] Her official number was 144068. She had a net tonnage of 140 and her gross tonnage was 333. The trawler was 138.8 feet (42.3 m) from bow to stern with a draught of 12.9 feet (3.9 m) and a breadth of 23.7 feet (7.2 m). Her engine was a T.3-cylinder from C. D. Holmes & Co Ltd., also of Hull.[1][2]

Service history

Early service

Following completion and registration, the Rudyard Kipling began fishing off of the coast of Ireland and Great Britain.[2] In May 1934, the trawler was sold to The Sun Steam Trawling Co Ltd. On 10 May, her registry from Hull was closed and on 16 May, she was registered in the English port town of Fleetwood, where her new owners were based. The Rudyard Kipling remained with the Sun Steam Trawling Co Ltd. for the rest of her career.[2]


On 16 September 1939, the Rudyard Kipling left Fleetwood for a routine fishing trip to an area off the west coast of Ireland. The trawler, under the command of Skipper Charles Robinson and with a crew of 12 men, was about 100 nautical miles (190 km) west of the Irish town of Donegal when U-27 came alongside and ordered them to pull over to the submarine and surrender. The German crew then took the Rudyard Kipling's food, including sugar, bread and fish, as well as the trawler's wireless radios, and transferred them over to the U-boat. Timed explosive charges were then placed on the trawler and three minutes later, at 15:53, the trawler exploded and sank.[2][4]

While raiding the trawler, the Germans took the crew of the Rudyard Kipling on board and provided them with food and warm clothes.[1] Eight hours later, in the early hours of 17 September, the Germans allowed the crew of the Rudyard Kipling to reboard their lifeboats and set them adrift 5 miles (8.0 km) west of the port town of Donegal. Sometime later the crew landed at Killybegs to the west of the town.[1][3] The Rudyard Kipling was the 27th merchant ship (the 26th one to be British) and the second British trawler to be sunk by a German U-boat in World War II.[5][6]


  1. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Rudyard Kipling (Steam trawler)". Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  2. "S.T. Rudyard Kipling FD33". Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  3. "FV Rudyard Kipling". Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  4. "First Trawler Loss of WWII". Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  5. "S.T. Rudyard Kipling FD33". The Bosun's Watch. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  6. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ship losses by month - September 1939". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 30 June 2010.

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