Built at Lithgows Ltd., Port Glasgow for T & J Brocklebank of Liverpool the steel steamship Manipur measured 473.4′ x 64.0′ x 34.0′ and weighed 8652 gross tons, 5196 net tons. She was launched on 12th March 1920 and started a successful Transatlantic career for her new owners. Her twin steam turbine engines by D Rowan and Co Ltd of Glasgow provided 1147 nhp.
On 16th July, 1940 the Manipur was en route from Baltimore to London under the command of her master, Captain Raymond Mallet with a crew of 79 aboard carrying a general cargo including iron, steel, lumber, zinc slabs and copper. The ship was part of 40 ships of convoy HX-55A which had assembled at Halifax, Nova Scotia and headed east from that port on 3rd July. With the convoy’s 7 escort ships they had safely crossed the open waters of the North Atlantic but as the ships approached the Scottish coast on the 16th the convoy came under the first U-boat attack when the British tanker Scottish Minstrel was hit by a torpedo from U-61. The following day, Manipur was some eight miles north west of Cape Wrath when she was torpedoed by U-57 commanded a man destined to be one of Germany’s highest decorated U-boat aces, Oberleutnant Erich Topp. 14 crew form the Manipur were lost, probably killed in the initial explosion, and the remainder of the men took to the ship’s boats to be safely picked up by the Canadian destroyer escort ship HMCS Skeena and taken to Rosyth. The Manipur sank soon after the crew abandoned ship.
Her valuable cargo made the wreck of the Manipur a prime target for salvage experts and a contract for salvage was issued to the famous salvors Risdon Beazley in December of 1971. The salvage was partially successful and the same company returned in 1976 when they reported the ship to be lying in two large pieces. These early salvage activities could not have been totally successful as a further attempt was made in 1986, this time by Kilburn’s Salvage Company, but the extent of this company’s success is not known.
The wreck on the Manipur lies in position 58°41.256’N, 005°11.809’W (WGS84) and is reported to sit upright in 67 metres of water oriented 090°/270°, rising some 8 metres from the seabed. Her bow and stern sections are well broken but the midships section is still reasonably in tact.