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THE SHIP. Built at Sunderland by the Shipbuilding Corp (Wear Branch) for the Ministry of Transport as the Empire Mombassa She was a single screw steamship, with triple expansion engines and was 7319 tons,431 ft long and had a 56 ft beam. She has a speed of 11 knots. Her engines were amidships with 4 holds forward and two aft. Seven transverse bulkheads divided her to eight water tight compartments, and her double bottom divided into eight water tight tanks extended almost throughout the vessel. She had a crew of 72, her Captain was  Peter Sinclair  Cambell. She was owned by the India Steamship Company of Calcutta and managed by Stelp and Lieghtons  of London.




In May she loaded 3852 tons of general cargo at Bemen, 1825 tons at Antwerp and 2853 tons at the Royal Albert Dock. Special holds were fabricated for the rest of her cargo- a magazine- as the cargo was explosives included 2969 rocket motors (127tons) Q.F cartridges,, 21/2 tons of filled shell and 180 pounds of fuse and burster.

Signal flares, signal rockets and target rocket heads were also loaded in there special compartment under the fo’c’sle head. A case of smoke generators were loaded onto the fore deck with drums of acetic acid and ethychloride were stowed on deck, aft. As the rocket motors were loaded from a lighter rusty brown liquid was seen dripping from the crates. Despite this the vessel was issued a safety certificate and papers to proceed on her journey.

The Indian Enterprise sailed from Holehaven on the evening of 3rd June 1950. She called at Port Said on 17th June to take on 635 tons of coal. On the 18th she left Port Said  passing through the canal and docking at Suez to off load a searchlight, leaving at 02.20.continuing her journey south.


At about  2020 (GMT), midway between the Brother Islands and  Daedalus light the  M.V H. Westfal-larsen and the S.S.  Lake Chilliwack both reported seeing the Indian Enterprise explode in a ball of flame. There recorded position was 23 30 N 35 27 E. Both ships immediately began to search for survivors, joined later by other vessels and aircraft. Only one person survived NUR HOSSAIN, a winch man on the Indian enterprise.At 0930 he came up on deck for a smoke and was talking to crew members sitting on the bollards on the starboard quarter. He heard the words “THE MAGAZINES ON FIRE”   there was an explosion and he was thrown over board, when he awoke he was surrounded by floating burning debris and both sides of his body had bee badly burned .

At the court of enquiry at the Law Courts in  London on the 18th Jan 1951, having rules out the possibility of sabotage and striking a mine, the court concluded that the cause of the sinking was instantaneous combustion.



The Istria was a cargo ship of 5,441 Grt. built by S.T. Triestino (Yard No. 569) at San Marco, Italy for Navigazione Libera Triestina. The keel was laid 01 December 1919, launched 26 February 1921, completed 26 June 1921. The ship was 123.2 meters in length, 16.5 meters in beam, with a single screw and a cruising speed of 10.5 knots. In 1937 the ship was transferred to the Societa Italia Flotte Riuniti/Italia Societa Anonima di Navegazione for service during WWI.
The ship was attacked in 1942 during a night raid in which the cargo exploded resulting in the ship sinking near Ras EL Tin, Alexandria



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