Launched from the yard of Foundation Maritime, Pictou, Nova Scotia on 26th February 1944 the steamship Avondale Park measured 315.5′ x 46.5′ x 22.9’and was 2878 gross tons, 1658 net tons. Her triple expansion steam engine by the Canada Iron Foundry of Three Rivers generated 269 nhp. She was originally built for the Canadian government and managed on their behalf by The Park Steamship Company of London. She was launched on 26th February 1944 and initially registered in Montreal. She had one successful voyage across the Atlantic to New York and back via Nova Scotia with a cargo of pulpwood in May 1944. She was then purchased by the Hill Steamship Company of Newcastle late. In the following months she was involved in 36 different convoys predominantly steaming back and forth between Methil and Southend with cargoes of coal for the war effort.
As the Second World War drew to a close a small coastal convoy of five ships and three escort vessels assembled in the Firth of Forth bound for Loch Ewe. Among those ships there were two ships that were to become the last ships sunk in the war in Scottish waters – the Sneland and the Avondale Park. On the evening of 7th May 1945, shortly after 8:00pm the little convoy set out for Loch Ewe, with the Avondale Park then due to steam from there to Belfast. She had a crew of 27 men and 4 gunners under the command of Captain James Cushnie aboard.
Three days earlier Admiral Donitz, who had taken command of the German armed forces after Adolf Hitler’s suicide and had signed an unconditional
surrender, had issued the order to his remaining U-boats to stop all attacks on allied shipping with effect from midnight on 7th May. It is not clear if Emil Klusmeier, commander of U-2336 on his first patrol in command, heard the order and ignored it because it was first and last chance to make a successful attack, or as he later claimed, never received the order, but, at around 11:00pm, he began his attack on the convoy. The approach of U-2336 had been detected by the underwater indicator loops controlled from Cantry Bay but the approach was ignored as the German surrender had been signed and the ceasefire deadline was only hours away. A fatal mistake. U-2336 fired two torpedoes and at 11:03 the Avondale Park was hit and, in a second explosion only three minutes later, the Sneland took a direct hit as she swerved to port to avoid the crippled Avondale Park which was steaming ahead of her in the convoy.
Both ships were fatally damaged. Two crewmen aboard the Avondale Park were lost as the ship went down. The Sneland sank very quickly leaving
the Avondale Park to become the last allied ship to be sunk in World War Two when she too sank beneath the waves shortly after the Sneland. The
three remaining ships in the convoy turned back to port after the attack and returned to Methil. U-2336 made a safe escape from the Forth despite several depth charge attacks and arrived back in Kiel on May 14th.
The wreck of the Avondale Park lies in position 56°09.278’N, 002°30.214’W (WGS84) oriented 150°/330°. The wreck, which is broken in two sits upright and fairly in tact in 51 metres rising 8 metres from the seabed and is festooned by snagged fishing nets. The bow and bridge section are the most recognisable features of the wreck with other areas well broken and wreckage scattered in and around the hull of the ship.