The steel steamship Empire Parsons was ordered by the Ministry of War Transport from the yard of William Gray and Co Ltd., Hartlepool. (Yard No 1121). She was part of the extensive ‘Empire’ programme initiated the British Government to boost the merchant fleet to bring war time supplies to the United Kingdom.
The cargo ships built under this programme were basic design, utilitarian, rapidly constructed vessels and were produced in large numbers at various shipyards around the country. Launched on 23rd August 1941 she measured 419.25′ x 56.7′ x 33.9′ and her tonnage was 6742 gross tons, 4842 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Central Marine Engineering Works Ltd., West Hartlepool delivering 505 net horse power.
The Empire Parsons made her first Transatlantic voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia in November 1941 returning to the UK in convoy HW164 reaching Southend on 28th December. Her second voyage was to be her last. She departed from the Tyne on 6th January 1942 in the small coastal convoy FN600 which reached the assembly point at Methil four days later. There she joined convoy EN31, a large convoy bound for Oban, where she was to assemble for her next Transatlantic convoy. She travelled in ballast, bound for Baltimore where she was due to pick up a cargo for a return voyage. The convoy consisted of twenty one merchant vessels with four escorts –HMS Jason, HMS Curacao, HMS Minuet, HMS Tarantella.
As the ships made their way through the treacherous Pentland Firth they encountered a strong south easterly gale and Empire Parsons was driven off course and ashore at Scarton Point, Stroma on 12th January 1942. Thankfully, despite the atrocious weather, none of the crew were lost as they were safely taken off by breeches buoy soon after they hit the rocks.
She became a total wreck, quickly breaking in to three pieces making salvage impossible. After the war the wreck was purchased by Metal Industries who dismantled her where she lay leaving little but the keel, some hull plating and a few low value fittings at the location. The remaining wreckage is broken in shallow water and ashore in estimated position 58° 41.321’N, 003° 06.573’W.
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