Empire ships

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The Empire Shetland , an Empire Cadet class ship

Empire ships (English: Empire ships) is a group of ships that were in the service of the British government during and after the Second World War. The name is derived from the ship names, most of which began with the word "Empire".


The group of Empire ships is made up of different parts. The vast majority of the ships were (mostly standardized) newbuildings that were built as part of government building programs or built and purchased abroad (mostly the United States ). In detail, the construction program comprised numerous types and types of ship , from small tugs to all types of freighters to large passenger ships . In addition, there were even hybrids between merchant and warships, such as catapult ships and merchant aircraft carriers, in the program. A number of existing ships were also designated as Empire ships, and prize and war booty ships were taken over and incorporated as Empire units. The lion's share of the Empire ships were under the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT), but the actual operation of the ships was in most cases transferred to existing shipping companies.

Construction types (selection)

A VIC-Clyde buffer


  • Mitchell, William H .; Sawyer, Leonard A .: Empire Ships of World War II . Sea Breezes, Liverpool 1965.