SS Samtampa

SS Samtampa was a 7,219 ton steamship wrecked on Sker Point, off Porthcawl and Kenfig, Wales, in the Bristol Channel on 23 April 1947. At the time of the shipwreck, the Samtampa was operated by the Houlder Line.[2]

A Liberty ship at sea
United States
Name: Peleg Wadsworth
Namesake: Peleg Wadsworth
Builder: New England Shipbuilding Corporation, South Portland, Maine
Yard number: 2203
Way number: 2
Laid down: 1 November 1943
Launched: 12 December 1943
Completed: 22 December 1943
Fate: Sent to the UK under Lend-Lease, 1943
United Kingdom
Name: SS Samtampa
Operator: Houlder Line
Fate: Wrecked, 1947
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Type EC2-S-C1 Liberty ship
Displacement: 14,245 long tons (14,474 t)[1]
  • 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m) o/a
  • 417 ft 9 in (127.33 m) p/p
  • 427 ft (130 m) w/l[1]
Beam: 57 ft (17 m)[1]
Draft: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)[1]
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)[1]
Range: 20,000 nmi (37,000 km; 23,000 mi)
Capacity: 10,856 t (10,685 long tons) deadweight (DWT)[1]
Crew: 81[1]

There were 47 fatalities in the incident, 39 from the ship and 8 volunteer crew of the lifeboat RNLB Edward, Prince of Wales (ON 678) from The Mumbles Lifeboat Station who died attempting to save the crew of the Samtampa. The lifeboat had returned to base, but had been sent out a second time. An oil spill from the tanks of the wrecked ship created an area of calm water, which the lifeboat coxswain, William Gammon (previously a winner of the RNLI Gold Medal), attempted to use to their advantage to enable them to pull alongside, and those who died were choked by the oil rather than drowning.[3] The ship had sailed from Middlesbrough and most of the 39 crew hailed from the Teesside area.

A memorial to the victims of the Samtampa tragedy is in Porthcawl Cemetery and a commemorative plaque can be found marking the "final resting place of The Mumbles lifeboat" at Sker Point. The location of the wreck was 51°30′01″N 03°44′26″W

In recognition of the sixtieth anniversary, a church service took place in Porthcawl on Saturday 21 April followed by a smaller service at Sker Point.[4]

The Samtampa had been launched as the SS Peleg Wadsworth, a liberty ship built by the New England Shipbuilding Corporation at South Portland, Maine, and launched on 12 December 1943.[5] Sent to Britain under the Lend-Lease program, the ship was renamed, and managed by the Houlder Line on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport.[6]


  1. Davies, James (2012). "Liberty Cargo Ships" (PDF). p. 23. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  2. "Houlder Line / Alexander SS Co". 2010. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  3. The Past Master, BBC Radio Wales
  4. "Tribute for 1947 Mumbles disaster". BBC News. London: BBC. 23 April 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  5. "New England Shipbuilding". 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  6. "Liberty Ships ("S")". 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2012.

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