Aldington Court(1944)

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Introduction

The name Aldington Court was used by Court Line for two ships:


Aldington Court (1944) was in service from 1944 until she was abandoned as a total loss in 1970 so had a working life of 26 years. I will simply refer to her as Aldington Court on the rest of this page.

Aldington Court
Aldington Court - date and location not known. [1]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo ship
Registered owners, managers and operators Built for Ministry of War Transport
Managers Runciman and Co. Ltd.
Builders William Doxford &
Yard Pallion, Sunderland
Country UK
Yard number 711
Registry London
Official number 180130
Signal letters N/K
Call sign GBTW
Classification society Lloyd’s Register
Gross tonnage 7,359
Net tonnage 5,109
Deadweight 10,025
Length 433 ft
Breadth 56.5 ft
Depth 35.5 ft
Draught 27ft 4.75in
Engines 2-stroke cycle single action (2S.C.SA) 3 cylinder oil engine with bore 23 5/8" and stroke 91 5/16"
Engine builders William Doxford & Sons Ltd.
Works Sunderland
Country UK
Power 516 MN
Propulsion Single screw
Speed 10.5 knots
Cargo capacity Grain 567,000cu ft; bale 514,000cuft
Crew N/K

Additional Construction Information

The 1945 Lloyds Register entry for Aldington Court has the following additional information about her:

  • Two decks and a cruiser stern
  • Fitted with Wireless direction finding apparatus
  • Fitted with an oil engine

Career Highlights

Date Event
11 Oct 1943 Launched as Empire Lord
February 1944 Completed
12 Jul 1945 Maiden voyage (See notes below table)
1946 Acquired by the United British Steam Ship Co. Ltd. (Haldin and Philips Ltd. Managers) and renamed Aldington Court
1947 Owners restyled Court Line Ltd. (Haldin and Co Ltd. Managers) London
1959 Sold to Cosmar Shipping Corp. - M.C. Fred Hunter, London Managers Piraeus, Greece and renamed Anacreon
1966 Sold to Zirda Cia.Nav S.A. Genoa Italy and renamed White Daisy
1967 Sold to Garden City Shipping Inc. Panama.
1968 Sold to Cia. Nav. Rivabella S.A. - World Shipping and Oil Transport Co. Ltd. London Managers), Panama and renamed Robertina
15 Jun 1970 Abandoned as a total loss after being beached 2 miles west of Cape Garraway

Notes on Career Highlights

I am grateful to Roger Jordan for the following comments:

The maiden voyage of this vessel was in March 1944, but presumably your annotation of July 1945 relates to maiden voyage for Court Line.

With regard to change of management from Runciman to Haldin, this occurred prior to departure on the 21-month voyage of 1945-47. As far as I can determine, Runciman was manager up to at least May 1945 and Haldin took over soon after that. It would appear that she renamed from Empire Lord to Aldington Court after her arrival at Durban on 22.4.46, having lost an anchor and chain. After replacement of the hardware, she went to Buenos Aires and as far as I can make out she arrived at BA as Aldington Court.

Service in WW2

There is no record of Aldington Court taking part in WW2 convoys to be found in the Arnold Hague database - see External Reference #5

However, according to Middlemiss - External Reference #4, she sailed as Empire Lord from Swansea on 12 Jul 1945 on a 21 month voyage during which she was purchased by Court Line and renamed Aldington Court.

Middlemiss gives her itinerary as:

Swansea, Cornerbrook, Montreal (Manz Line charter), Panama, Auckland, Wellington,, Auckland (grain), Colombo, Bompay, Port Louis (sugar), Durban to Plate with coal returning with grain on repeated basis, Plate (grain), Durban (bunkers), Madras, Colombo (dry-dock), Adelaide, Port Pirie (grain), Port Lincoln (grain), Port Lincoln (grain), Calicut and Vizagapatnam (Manganese ore), Calcutta (general), Colombo, Port Said, Azores (engine repairs), St John, Baltimore, Newport News, Norfolk Virginia, New York (Cunard charter), London, Tyne - arrived 3 April 1947 for dry dock.
Aldington Court
Aldington Court - date and location not known. [2]

Service post WW2

Not much information is currently to hand about the post-war service of Aldington Court other than related to her multiple changes in ownership and name and her eventual loss.

I am indebted to Dave Bonner who served on Aldington Court in from January to August 1958 and has provided the following information:

I signed on the Aldington Court in Bremen and headed for atlantic "awaiting orders" in trampship tradition. Had much engine trouble mid-atlantic and broke down again and drifted off the Bahamas. We called for assistance but missed a rescue tug in darkness; having restarted the engine we headed for Port Everglades but grounded on a reef about 500 yards East of the Sea Ranch Hotel in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea - the dry dock in Jacksonville. In truth the grounding was a navigational error, but not publicly announced to our knowledge! The red lights on a water tower along the coast were mistaken for the entrance to Port Everglades harbour.

The grounding caused damage to No.1 and 2 holds but thankfully the double bottom saved a complete disaster. We were towed to drydock in Jacksonville FLA. and spent 2 months there having a new bottom fitted. A Lloyds official flew out to inspect the work and condemmed most of it - American shipyards were skilled at welding ships but riveting was initially a struggle for the yard at Jacksonville.

Once repaired we loaded maize meal at Galveston and sailed for Gibralter (repairs and bunkers) then through the Suez Canal to Karachi (more repairs). We were all surprised to learn that the ship, rather than spending 2 years in the far east, was routed back to Europe via Cape Town and then to Hamburg, where the crew paid off and returned to England. I've wondered since whether negotiations were going on with regard to selling the vessel.
Aldington Court
Fort Lauderdale Daily News front page 26 February 1958 showing Aldington Court aground with tugs trying to pull her clear of the reef [3]
Aldington Court
(Fort Lauderdale?) Daily News photo showing spectators watching Aldington Court aground [4]
Aldington Court
Aldington Court aground [5]
Aldington Court
(Fort Lauderdale?) Daily News photo showing Aldington Court still aground for the third day [4]
Aldington Court
(Fort Lauderdale?) Herald article describing plans to pull Aldington Court off the reef. An interesting comment about the sailors saying that the Captain was "a bit worried" about the incident but that they appeared to be bearing up well apart from an anticipated shortage of beer. The recovery attempt was being undertaken by the tug Cable. [4]
Aldington Court
(Fort Lauderdale?) Herald article describing plans to pull Aldington Court off the reef. An interesting comment about the sailors saying that the Captain was "a bit worried" about the incident but that they appeared to be bearing up well apart from an anticipated shortage of beer. The recovery attempt was being undertaken by the tug Cable. [4]
Aldington Court Aldington Court
Daily News article describing plans to pull Aldington Court off the reef. [4]
Aldington Court
Unknown newspaper update noting that the tug Cable is ready for the big pull [4]
Aldington Court
Aldington Court in Dry Dock so the efforts of Cable were clearly effective. [5]

Note: Cable was a 1,530 GRT US Navy salvage vessel completed in 1944 by Basalt Rock of Napa. She had two screws driven by a diesel engine and electric drive and was capable of 14.5 knots. She was herself 'stricken' in 1977 - according to the Miramar Ship Index.

Loss of Aldington Court (as Robertina)

Nothing is currently known of her loss other than that she sprang a leak off Las Palmas and was abandoned as a total loss after being beached 2 miles west of Cape Garraway. It is not known whether there were any casualties.

Image Credits

  1. From The Allen Collection - External Reference #1
  2. By courtesy of Stuart Smith
  3. By courtesy of the Fort Lauderdale Daily News
  4. By courtesy of the Daily News
  5. By courtesy of Dave Bonner