A troopship (also troop ship or troop transport or trooper) is a ship used to carry soldiers, either in peacetime or wartime. Operationally, standard troopships–often drafted from commercial shipping fleets–cannot land troops directly on shore, typically loading and unloading at a seaport or onto smaller vessels, either tenders or barges.

Attack transports, a variant of ocean-going troopship adapted to transporting invasion forces ashore, carry their own fleet of landing craft. Landing ships beach themselves and bring their troops directly ashore.

USS McCawley landing rehearsal
Soldiers climb down netting on the sides of the attack transport USS McCawley (APA-4) on 14 June 1943, rehearsing for landings on New Georgia
A Bayfield-class attack transport underway with its complement of landing craft, the USS Hamblen (APA-114)


Ships to transport troops were used in Antiquity. Ancient Rome used the navis lusoria, a small vessel powered by rowers and sail, to move soldiers on the Rhine and Danube.[1]

RMS Queen Mary 20Jun1945 NewYork.jpeg
Nicknamed the "Grey Ghost", RMS Queen Mary holds the all-time record for most troops on one passage, 15,740 on a late July 1943 run from the U.S. to Europe[2]

The modern troopship has as long a history as passenger ships do, as most maritime nations enlisted their support in military operations (either by leasing the vessels or by impressing them into service) when their normal naval forces were deemed insufficient for the task. In the 19th century, navies frequently chartered civilian ocean liners, and from the start of the 20th century painted them gray and added a degree of armament; their speed, originally intended to minimize passage time for civilian user, proved valuable for outrunning submarines and enemy cruisers in war. HMT Olympic even rammed and sank a U-boat during one of its wartime crossings. Individual liners capable of exceptionally high speed transited without escorts; smaller or older liners with poorer performance were protected by operating in convoys.

Most major naval powers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided their domestic shipping lines with subsidies to build fast ocean liners capable of conversions to auxiliary cruisers during wartime. The British government, for example, aided both Cunard and the White Star Line in constructing the liners RMS Mauretania, RMS Aquitania, RMS Olympic and RMS Britannic. However, when the vulnerability of these ships to return fire was realized during World War I most were used instead as troopships or hospital ships.

RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth were two of the most famous converted liners of World War II. When they were fully converted, each could carry well over 10,000 troops per trip. Queen Mary holds the all-time record, with 15,740 troops on a single passage in late July 1943,[2] transporting a staggering 765,429 military personnel during the war.[2]

World War II

USNS General R.L. Howze (T-AP-134
A U.S. General G. O. Squier-class troop transport
The Aiken Victory arriving in Boston with 1,958 troops from Europe, 26 July 1945
The Aiken Victory, a Victory ship troop ship conversion, arriving in Boston with 1,958 troops from Europe, 26 July 1945[3]

Large numbers of troopships were employed during World War II, including 220 "Limited Capacity" Liberty ship conversions, 30 Type C4 ship-based General G. O. Squier-class, a class of 84 Victory ship conversions, and a small number of Type-C3-S-A2 ship-based dedicated transports, and 15 classes of attack transports, of which some 400 alone were built.

  • The modified Liberties were capable of transporting up to 450,[4] 550,[5] or 650[6] (sources vary) troops or prisoners-of-war. Modifications included installation of bunks stacked five deep on the forward tweendeck, additional shower and head facilities, two additional diesel-powered generators,[5] and installation of two more Oerlikon 20-mm automatic cannons.[4][5][7][8]
  • 30 Type C4 ship-based General G. O. Squier-class, the largest carrying over 6,000 passengers.
  • A class of Victory ship-based dedicated troopship was developed late in World War II. A total of 84 such VC2-S-AP2 hull conversions was completed.[9][10][11][12][13]
  • A class of Type C3 ship – comprising mainly C3-S-A2 and C3-S-A3 hulls – was also converted to dedicated troopships, capable of carrying 2,100 troops,[14] was also developed.
  • At least 15 classes of Attack Transport, consisting of at least 400 ships specially equipped for landing invasion forces rather than general troop movement.


The designation HMT (Hired Military Transport or Her/His Majesty's Transport) would normally replace RMS (Royal Mail Ship), MV (Motor Vessel) or SS (Steamship) for ships converted to troopship duty with the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. The United States used two designations: WSA for troopships operated by the War Shipping Administration using Merchant Marine crews, and USS (United States Ship) for vessels accepted into and operated by the United States Navy. Initially troopships adapted as attack transports were designated AP; starting in 1942 keel-up attack transports received the designation APA.

Post-World War II

In the era of the Cold War, the United States designed the SS United States so that it could easily be converted from a liner to a troopship, in case of war. More recently, SS Queen Elizabeth 2 and the SS Canberra were requisitioned by the Royal Navy to carry British soldiers to the Falklands War. By the end of the twentieth century, nearly all long-distance personnel transfer was done by airlift in military transport aircraft.

Some notable troopships



  • James Dugan, The Great Iron Ship, 1953 (regularly reprinted) ISBN 0-7509-3447-6
  • Stephen Harding, Great Liners at War, Motorbooks Int'l, Osceola, WI, USA, 1997 ISBN 0-7603-0346-0
  • Goron Newell, Ocean Liners of the 20th Century, Bonanza Books, USA, 1963 ISBN 0-517-03168-X


  1. ^ Pferdehirt B. "The Museum of Ancient Shipping". Retrieved August 3, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c
  4. ^ a b Live, 2013 edition, p. 6.
  5. ^ a b c "S.S. John W. Brown Walk-around".
  6. ^ Live, 2013 edition, p. 4.
  7. ^ Cooper, p. 5.
  8. ^ Project Liberty Ship: Armament Aboard SS JOHN W. BROWN Archived 2013-10-15 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "HAER for Private Frederick C. Murphy" (PDF). United States Maritime Administration. Retrieved 6 August 2013. "In the summer of 1945, eighty-four VC2-S-AP2 Victory ships, including the Maritime Victory, were converted into troopships by MARITIME VICTORY the U.S. Maritime Commission in preparation for an assault on the Japanese home islands. The ship made several crossings of the Atlantic Ocean and was used to repatriate American troops from Europe after World War II. pp. 1–2
  10. ^ crossings in 1945
  11. ^ Troop Ship of World War II, April 1947, Page 356-357
  12. ^ 69th infantry division, newsletter, 1986
  13. ^ Binghamton NY Press Grayscale 1945 – Fulton History, Oct. 15, 1945
  14. ^ Isthmian Lines ship S.S. Steel Scientist [2] Troop capacity: 2156

External links

Media related to Troop ships at Wikimedia Commons

Euphrates-class troopship

The Euphrates class was a five-ship class of iron screw troopships built for the Royal Navy during the 1860s. They were used for carrying troops to India, with two of them being later hulked and surviving into the early 20th Century.

Farewell Again

Farewell Again is a 1937 British drama film directed by Tim Whelan and starring Leslie Banks, Flora Robson, Sebastian Shaw and Robert Newton. The film is a portmanteau illustrating the calls of duty on various soldiers and their families. In the United States it was released with the alternative title Troopship.

The film was made at Denham Studios by Alexander Korda's London Film Productions.

Fokker F27 Friendship

The Fokker F27 Friendship is a turboprop airliner developed and manufactured by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker. It has the distinction of being the most numerous post-war aircraft to have been manufactured in the Netherlands; the F27 was also one of the most successful European airliners of its era.

The F27 was developed during the early 1950s with the expressed intent of producing a capable successor to the earlier piston engine-powered airliners that had become commonplace on the market, such as the successful Douglas DC-3. A key innovation of the F27 was the adoption of the Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engine, which produced substantially less vibration and noise which provided improved conditions for passengers; another major comfort feature was cabin pressurisation. Innovative manufacturing techniques were also employed in the aircraft's construction.

On 24 November 1955, the F27 performed its maiden flight; on 19 November 1958, the type was introduced to revenue service. Shortly after its introduction, the F27 was recognised as being a commercial success. Under a licensing arrangement reached between Fokker and the U.S. aircraft manufacturer Fairchild, the F27 was manufactured in the United States by the latter; Fairchild went on to independently develop a stretched version of the airliner, which was designated as the Fairchild FH-227. During the 1980s, Fokker developed a modernised successor to the F27, the Fokker 50, which eventually replaced it in production.

HMS Birkenhead (1845)

HMS Birkenhead, also referred to as HM Troopship Birkenhead or Steam Frigate Birkenhead, was one of the first iron-hulled ships built for the Royal Navy. She was designed as a steam frigate, but was converted to a troopship before being commissioned.She was wrecked on 26 February 1852, while transporting troops to Algoa Bay at Danger Point near Gansbaai, 87 miles (140 kilometres) from Cape Town in the Cape Colony. There were not enough serviceable lifeboats for all the passengers, and the soldiers famously stood firm on board, thereby allowing the women and children to board the boats safely and escape the sinking.

Only 193 of the estimated 643 people on board survived, and the soldiers' chivalry gave rise to the unofficial "women and children first" protocol when abandoning ship, while the "Birkenhead drill" of Rudyard Kipling's poem came to describe courage in face of hopeless circumstances.

HMS Kashmir (1915)

HMS Kashmir was a British cargo liner built during World War I for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O)'s Far Eastern routes. She served in that capacity until late 1916 when she was requisitioned for service as a troopship. She collided with the troopship HMS Otranto in 1918 which subsequently ran aground on the Isle of Islay with great loss of life. The ship was returned to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company after the war and remained in service until 1932.

Iosif Stalin-class passenger ship

The Iosif Stalin-class passenger ship was a two-strong class of large turbo-electric powered passenger ships, operated by the Soviet Baltic State Shipping Company (BGMP). The ships were taken over by the Soviet Navy during World War II and used as transport vessels. The class was named after Joseph Stalin.

The two Soviet ships Iosif Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov (after Vyacheslav Molotov) were constructed in 1939 by the Dutch company N.V. Nederlandsche Dok & Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (NDSM), in Amsterdam. The ships were intended for the Soviet Far East waters, but due to the outbreak of World War II, they were taken over by the BGMP. The ships were ready and left Amsterdam on 1 May 1940, only nine days prior the German occupation of the Netherlands.

List of battles and other violent events by death toll

This page lists mortalities from battles and individual military operations or acts of violence, sorted by death toll. For wars and events more extensive in scope, see List of wars and disasters by death toll. For natural disasters, see List of natural disasters by death toll.

List of frigate classes of the Royal Navy

This is a list of frigate classes of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom (and the individual ships composed within those classes) in chronological order from the formal creation of the Royal Navy following the Restoration in 1660. Where the word 'class' or 'group' is not shown, the vessel was a 'one-off' design with just that vessel completed to the design. The list excludes vessels captured from other navies and added to the Royal Navy.

All frigates built for the Royal Navy up to 1877 (when the Admiralty re-categorised all frigates and corvettes as "cruisers") are listed below. The term "frigate" was resuscitated in World War II and subsequent classes are listed at the end of this article, but the individual ships within those classes are not listed in this article.

List of ships sunk by submarines by death toll

Self-propelled torpedoes dramatically increased effectiveness of submarine warships. Initial scouting patrols against surface warships sank several cruisers in the first month of World War I. Incidental encounters with merchant ships were handled by signalling the ship to stop and sinking the ship after removing the crew in accordance with international law. After unrestricted submarine warfare began in February 1915, any ship might unexpectedly sink rapidly from heavy underwater hull damage inflicted by torpedoes. Many large ships sank unknown to friendly forces, and the submarines which sank them were too small to rescue more than a few survivors. Heavy personnel casualties continued through World War II, and there have been a few later sinkings.

MS Stockholm (1941)

MS Stockholm was the name of two near-identical ocean liners built by Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Monfalcone, Italy between 1936 and 1941 for the Swedish American Line. Neither of the ships entered service for the company that had ordered them—the first ship was entirely destroyed by fire during construction in 1938, while the second was completed in 1941 but immediately sold to the Italian government as a troopship. The second ship served for three years in the Regia Marina and Kriegsmarine under the name MS Saubadia, until sunk by British bombers outside Trieste in 1944. It is unknown if she was ever actually used as a troopship.

MV Georgic (1931)

Built at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the MV Georgic was the last ship built for the White Star Line before its merger with the Cunard Line. She was the running mate of Britannic. Like Britannic, Georgic was a motorship, and not a steamer, fitted with a diesel powerplant. At the time of her launch in 1931, she was the largest British motorship.

After a successful career as a Liner in the 1930s, Georgic was pressed into service as a troopship in 1940. She was severely damaged and sunk in 1941 by a German bombing raid whilst docked at Port Tewfik in Egypt. After being refloated and extensively rebuilt, she returned to service as a troopship in 1944, and continued in service for both for military and civilian uses until 1956, when she was withdrawn from service and scrapped.

Qiongsha-class cargo ship

Qiongsha (琼沙)-class cargo ship is a class of Chinese ship developed by China for its People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). These ships are mainly used for supplying garrisons in South China Sea. There are three versions of this class, including cargo ship, ambulance transport, and troopship versions. The general designers of all versions of Qiongsha class were Mr. Pan Hui-Quan (潘惠泉) and Mr. Huang Zhong-Fu (黄钟福).

RMS Cameronia (1920)

Cameronia was a British ocean liner which was built in 1920 by William Beardmore & Co Ltd, Port Glasgow for the Anchor Line. She was requisitioned for use as a troopship in the Second World War, surviving a torpedo attack. In 1953 she was requisitioned by the Ministry of Troop Transport (MoTT) and renamed Empire Clyde. She was scrapped in 1957.

RMS Samaria (1920)

RMS Samaria was transatlantic ocean liner built for Cunard Line. She served from 1922 until 1955. During the Second World War she was a troopship in the Royal Navy. Samaria was scrapped in 1956.

SS Empire Fowey

Empire Fowey was a 19,121 GRT ocean liner that was built in 1935 as Potsdam by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg for the Hamburg America Line. She was sold before completion to Norddeutscher Lloyd. While owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd she was one of three sister ships operating the service between Bremen and the Far East. Her sister ships were SS Scharnhorst and SS Gneisenau.

En route to the United States when war was declared, she managed to return to Germany.

Used as an accommodation ship and troopship during World War II, she was seized by the Allies in 1945 and renamed Empire Jewel. She was converted to a troopship in 1946 but her high-pressure boilers proved troublesome and the ship was rebuilt in 1947 and renamed Empire Fowey.

Sold to Pakistan in 1960 and renamed Safina-E-Hujjaj, she served until 1976 when she was scrapped at Gadani Beach, Pakistan.

SS Georgetown Victory

SS Georgetown Victory was a Victory ship built for the War Shipping Administration late in World War II under the Emergency Shipbuilding program. She was a type VC2-S-AP2/WSAT cargo ship with the United States Maritime Commission (MCV) -"Victory"; hull number 653, shipyard number 1597 and built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland, she was laid down on 8 March 1945. Georgetown Victory, named after Georgetown University, was launched from the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard at Baltimore on April 28, 1945 and completed on 22 May 1945.

Georgetown Victory was one of many new 10,500-ton class ships to be known as Victory ships, designed to replace the earlier Liberty Ships. Liberty ships were designed to be used solely for World War II, whereas Victory ships were designed to last longer and to serve the US Navy after the war. Victory ships differed from Liberty ships in that they were faster, longer, wider, taller, and had a thinner stack set farther toward the superstructure. In addition, they had a long raised forecastle.

SS Hagerstown Victory

SS Hagerstown Victory was a Victory ship-based troop transport built for the U.S. Army Transportation Corps (USAT) late in World War II under the Emergency Shipbuilding program. It saw service in the European Theater of Operations during 1945 and in the immediate post-war period repatriating U.S. troops. Hagerstown Victory was one of 97 cargo Victory ships converted to a troopship.

Hagerstown Victory was one of many of the new 10,500-ton class ships known as Victory ships. Victory ships were designed to replace the earlier Liberty ships, which were intended to be used just for World War II. Victory ships, on the other hand, were designed to last longer and serve the U.S. Navy after the war. The Victory ship differed from a Liberty ship in that they were faster, longer, wider, taller, had a thinner stack set farther toward the superstructure and had a long raised forecastle.

SS Justicia

SS Justicia was a British troopship sunk during the First World War. She was laid down as SS Statendam, a 32,234 gross-ton ocean liner built for the Holland America Line by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Before the ship was completed she was acquired by the British government and operated on behalf of the shipping controller by the White Star Line.

After several trips as a troopship she was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the British Isles in 1918 while sailing unladen.

SS Pittsburgh

SS Pittsburgh was a transatlantic ocean liner. It was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the American Line. Initial construction began in 1913, but was delayed by World War I. The ship was completed in 1920, and made its first voyage in 1922 for the White Star Line. In 1925, as Pennland, it commenced operations for the Red Star Line. The ship was refitted as a troopship for the Allies in World War II. The ship was bombed April 25, 1941 in the Gulf of Athens and sank.


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