Swansea and Port Talbot Docks History

Docks at War -

Damage to Shipping

On the 21st January 1940, on a voyage from Liverpool to Barry, the Blue Funnel cargo liner ‘Protesilaus’ hit a mine off Rotherslade near Swansea. Badly damaged, she was towed into Swansea Docks, but was considered beyond economic repair and, in 1942, she was broken up by Thos. W. Ward at Briton Ferry. The mine was one of many laid near Swansea Docks by the German submarine U-28 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Günter Kuhnke (Knights Cross). The U-28, a type VIIA submarine, was later sunk in an operational accident at Neustadt in March 1944. Raised shortly afterwards, she was decommissioned in August of that year. The ‘Protesilaus’ was built for Alfred Holt by Hawthorn Leslie & Co. of Newcastle in 1910. Her dimensions were:- length 484.9’, beam 60.4’, draft 39.5’, GRT 9,577 tons, and NRT 6,118 tons.


The pictures below show the s.s. Riverton entering drydock at Swansea after being torpedoed on the 23rd April 1945 off St. Ives in the Bristol Channel. Steaming in ballast from Antwerp, the ‘Riverton’ was attacked by U-1023, a Type VIIC/41 submarine under the command of Kapitänleutnant Heinrich-Andreas Schroeteler (Knights Cross). Three men were lost out of a crew of 48. The stricken vessel was towed into St. Ives Bay, and then on to Swansea for repairs. The ‘Riverton’ was built by the Burntisland Shipbuilding Co. for the Carlton Steamship Co. in 1943, and her dimensions were:- length 420’, beam 58’, GRT 7,345 tons, and NRT 4,878 tons. In 1960 she was sold to Greek owners and renamed ‘Eftychia’ and in 1965, sold to Hong Kong owners and renamed ‘Boaz’. She was broken up in Taiwan in 1969. 

s.s. Riverton

s.s. Riverton

Successor to the vessel above was the M/V 'RIVERTON', of 6174 gross tons with dimensions 476' long and 62' wide and speed 16 knots. Bought by the 'Somerston shipping Co. Ltd', 1961 and placed under the management of Chapman and Willan she was the fourth ship of this name to be managed by them. She was built in 1956 as the 'DESPINA C' for the West African shipping Co. by Bartrams of Sunderland. This ship originally carried the colours of the COSTA line of Italy, hence the 'C' as part of the name 'DESPINA C'. There were at least two sister ships, the 'ANNA C' and 'MARIA C'. There was a link to West Africa through a company called 'Compania Maratima Samsoc Limitada of Monrovia, Liberia. This ship was eventually sold to the Demetra Maritme Corp. of Greece in 1968 and arrived Tsingtao, China for scrapping on 18 May 1974.


Britannia Towing Company’s tug ‘Queenforth’ was swamped by a near-miss from an enemy bomb during an air raid on Swansea Docks on the night of the 19th February 1941. The photographs below show her being raised from the dock bottom and put into dry dock for repairs.

The tug Queenforth newly painted and overhauled after her sinking

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