SS Czar

SS "Czar", or "Царь" in Russian, was an ocean liner for the Russian American Line before World War I. The ship was later known as "Estonia" for the Baltic American Line, "Pułaski" for the Gdynia America Line and as a British Ministry of War Transport troopship, and as "Empire Penryn" after World War II. The liner was built in Glasgow for the Russian American Line in 1912 and she sailed on North Atlantic routes from Libau to New York. On one eastbound voyage in October 1913, "Czar" was one of ten ships that came to the aid of the burning Uranium Line steamer long by , and ] In March 1914, King George V of the United Kingdom, on recommendation of the Board of Trade, awarded 19 of "Czar"'s crew the Silver Sea Gallantry Medal, along with a £3 award., , and destroyers and were the former "Czaritza" and "Kursk", respectively. See: ] Four days later, joined Convoy SL-44, the 44th wartime convoy from Sierra Leone to Liverpool, with nearly 30 other ships and 10 escorts. "Pułaski" and about half of the ships departed the convoy at Liverpool on 7 September, while the other half continued on for Methil. [Cite web | url = http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/sl2/index.html?sl.php?convoy=44!~slmain | title = Convoy SL.44 | work = Arnold Hague Convoy Database | publisher = ConvoyWeb | accessdate = 2008-07-29 ]

"Pułaski" next made her way to the Clyde in late October. Between 10 May and 12 June 1941, she sailed on three roundtrip trooping runs between Clyde and Iceland. In late June, "Pułaski", loaded with 2,047 troops, sailed from Clyde to join Convoy WS-9B headed for Freetown. Cite web | url = http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/misc/index.html?yy.php?convoy=WS.9B!~miscmain | title = Convoy WS.9B | work = Arnold Hague Convoy Database | publisher = ConvoyWeb | accessdate = 2008-07-29 ] The convoy arrived at its destination on 13 July. After three days, "Pułaski" and four other ships sailed on to Cape Town, arriving on 27 July. Leaving behind one ship at Cape Town, "Pułaski" and the others sailed on 30 July to their final destination of Aden, where they arrived in mid August.

Over the next seven months, "Pułaski" operated in the Indian Ocean, primarily sailing between Middle Eastern and East African ports. Beginning in late August, "Pułaski" sailed between Aden and ports of Suez, Durban, Berbera, Mombasa, Massawa, Port Sudan, and Kilindini. From Kilindini, in March 1942, the liner sailed to Colombo and back to Durban on 8 April. While at Durban, a fire gutted the bridge in what may have been sabotage.

The damaged "Pułaski" made her way to East London in South Africa on 11 April where she remained under repair until June. Departing East London on 25 June, she resumed her Middle Eastern and African runs between Aden, Suez, and Durban. In November, the transport departed Aden and called at Basra, Bandar Abbas, and Karachi, before returning to Durban in early December. After nearly a two-month stay at Durban, "Pułaski" returned to her trooping duties in the Indian Ocean on 1 February 1943. She made her first visits to Diego Suarez, Zanzibar, and Tamatave in March, and Djibouti in April.

After a return to East London from Durban on 30 May, the ship put in for another extended stay, this time for four months. Resuming her trooping runs on 29 September, "Pułaski" began a year of almost continuous sailing. During this span, which lasted until mid-September 1944, the ship called at Bombay twice in addition to numerous stops in Aden, Suez, Durban, and Kilindini. Putting in at Durban on 15 September, "Pułaski" had a general refit over the next four months.

"Pułaski" resumed her Indian Ocean service when she left Durban on 21 January 1945, headed for Kilindini. She visited Dar es Salaam for the first time in April, and departed from her first visit to Madras on Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945. Headed to Akyab, Burma, she started the first of five India–Burma roundtrips through July. Over the next months, she shuttled between Rangoon, Calcutta (where she was docked on Victory over Japan Day), Chittagong, Madras, and Colombo, arriving at the latter port for the final time on 12 September. From Colombo she sailed into the Western Pacific for Singapore where she arrived for the first of several visits on 14 September, two days after the Japanese garrison there surrendered. Through the end of 1945, "Pułaski" continued sailing between Singapore and India, making additional stops at Port Swettenham, Chittagong, Sourabaya, and Batavia.

"Pułaski" arrived at Calcutta on 23 December 1945. After this time, the ship continued to sail in trooping duties in the Indian Ocean, though her specific movements are not known.The ship's movements after December 1945 are not found in source materials.] In March 1946, "Pułaski" was purchased by the Ministry of War Transport for £100,000. It was around this time the Polish crews of "Pułaski" and "Kościuszko" refused to be repatriated to Soviet-occupied Poland. The crew members all signed British articles. On 16 April 1946, "Pułaski" was formally handed over to British authorities, who renamed the vessel "Empire Penryn": "Empire" to match the naming convention for miscellaneous British auxiliary ships; "Penryn" for the port of Penryn, Cornwall. Remaining under Lamport & Holt management, "Empire Penryn" performed trooping duties in the Mediterranean. The ship was taken out of service in 1948, and was scrapped at Blyth in 1949.

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