Military Wiki
SS Belgian
Name: Belgian (1919-34)
Amelia Lauro (1934-40)
Empire Activity (1940-41)
Owner: F Leyland & Co Ltd (1919-34)
Achille Lauro, Naples (1934-40)
Ministry of War Transport (1940-41)
Operator: As owner except:-
Galbraith, Pembroke & Co Ltd (1940-41)
Port of registry: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Liverpool (1919-22)
United Kingdom Liverpool (1922-34)
Italy Naples (1934-40)
United Kingdom London (1940-41)
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle upon Tyne
Yard number: 1139
Launched: 29 August 1919
In service: October 1919
Identification: UK official number 140659 (1919-34, 1940-41)
Italian official number 423 (1934-40)
Code letters KCQH (1919-34)
ICS Kilo.svg ICS Charlie.svg ICS Quebec.svg ICS Hotel.svg
Code letters IBEZ (1934-40)
ICS India.svg ICS Bravo.svg ICS Echo.svg ICS Zulu.svg
Code letters GQXX (1940-41)
ICS Golf.svg ICS Quebec.svg ICS X-ray.svg ICS X-ray.svg
Fate: Sunk by U-96, 27 June 1941
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 5,287 GRT
Length: 400 ft 3 in (122.00 m)
Beam: 52 ft 4 in (15.95 m)
Depth: 28 ft 4 in (8.64 m)
Propulsion: 1 x triple expansion steam engine of 517 hp (386 kW)
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)

The SS Belgian was a 5,287 ton steamship which was built in 1919, sold in 1934 becoming Amelia Lauro, seized in 1940 and renamed Empire Activity and sunk by a German U-boat in 1941.


Belgian was built by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend and launched on 29 August 1919, being completed in October 1919.[1] From 1919 to 1934 Belgian was owned by the Leyland Line. In 1934, she was sold to Achille Lauro, and renamed Amelia Lauro.[2]

On 7 March 1940, Amelia Lauro was damaged by German bombing at 52°55′N 02°19′E / 52.917°N 2.317°E / 52.917; 2.317[3] en route from Newcastle upon Tyne to Piombino laden with coal. She was set on fire and the crew anchored her, then abandoned her.[4] The SS Titania rescued 37 of the crew, and the sloops Pintail and Londonderry assisted. Amelia Lauro was escorted to Immingham[3] with her superstructure burnt out.[4] One crew member was killed outright and three were wounded.[5] One of the wounded crewmen later died from his injuries.[6] In an expression of gratitude, Lauro Lines owner Achille Lauro donated £26. 5s to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in appreciation of assistance rendered by the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat in bringing 29 crew to shore.[7] Permission was given for temporary repairs to be carried out.[4]

As a consequence of Italy's declaration of war on 10 June 1940, Amelia Lauro was seized as a prize of war. The seizure was ratified by the prize court on 4 May 1941.[8] Amelia Lauro was taken over by the Ministry of War Transport, being renamed Empire Activity. Galbraith, Pembroke & Co were appointed managers. On 27 June 1941, Empire Activity was torpedoed by U-96 off Newfoundland at 49°30′38″N 53°51′30″W / 49.51056°N 53.85833°W / 49.51056; -53.85833Coordinates: 49°30′38″N 53°51′30″W / 49.51056°N 53.85833°W / 49.51056; -53.85833,[9] 1 nautical mile south of the Peckford Reef.[1] She was en route from Botwood to the United Kingdom laden with zinc concentrates.[4]

Official number and code letters

Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers.

Belgian had the UK Official Number 140659.[10] Amelia Lauro had the Italian Official Number 423[11] Empire Activity had the UK Official number 140659.[12]

Belgian used the Code Letters KCQH.[10] Amelia Lauro used the Code Letters IBEZ.[11] Empire Activity used the Code Letters GQXX.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "1140659". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 2008-11-28.  (subscription required)
  2. "Belgian". Ellis Island. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "NAVAL EVENTS, MARCH 1940, Part 1 of 2, Friday 1st – Thursday 14th". Naval History. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. 1995. pp. p431–32. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  5. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 9 March 1940. 
  6. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 11 March 1940. 
  7. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 12 June 1940. 
  8. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 6 May 1941. 
  9. "EMPIRE - A". Mariners-L. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "LLOYD'S REGISTER, NAVIRES A VAPEUR ET A MOTEURS". Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "LLOYD'S REGISTER, NAVIRES A VAPEUR ET A MOTEURS". Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "LLOYD'S REGISTER, STEAMERS AND MOTORSHIPS". Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 

External links

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