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HMHS Karapara in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMHS Karapara



1st August 1914 Hospital ship  

HMHS Karapara

The Karapara was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle in 1914 for the British India Steam Navigation Co. She was a 7,117 gross ton ship, length 425ft x beam 55.6ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 15.5 knots. Originally ordered as the Karunga, she was registered on 21st August 1915 and entered service as Naval Hospital Ship No. 17, with 341 beds and 200 medical staff. p>

  • Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport Service during WW1.
  • Medical Staff strength.
  • Officers:9
  • Nurses:11
  • Other:40
  • Accommodation capacity.
  • Officers:23
  • Cots:318
  • Berths:
  • Period of Service as Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport.
  • Date From:27th August 1915
  • Date To:20th February 1916
  • Ships Crew details:

On 26 August 1915 she sailed for Gallipoli and operated in the Eastern Mediterranean, based at Alexandria. On 26th May 1917 she rescued 270 survivors from the hospital ship Dover Castle and took them to Gibraltar. In 1919 she provided medical facilities at Istanbul during an exceptionally hot summer.

Delivered to British India Steam Navigation Co in 1920, she commenced sailings to East African ports as the Karapara. In the 1930's she transferred to the Straits (Malaya) route and also did some sailings to Port Sudan.

Requisitioned for World War 2 duty and reconverted to hospital ship (No. 36) in October 1940 with 338 beds and 123 medical staff in 1940, she served between the Red Sea and India. In April 1941, off Perim Island, Red Sea, en route to India, she was diverted to Aden to offload her patients, and then ordered to Tobruk to replace the hospital ship Vita which had been damaged by dive bombers. On her first voyage out of Tobruk, she was attacked by aircraft but escaped damage. However, on her second journey, 5th May 1941, she was deliberately bombed and damaged by at least nine enemy aircraft at Mersa, Tobruk; she was towed back into port, repaired and successfully sailed to Alexandria.

She returned to commercial service in January 1947 on Calcutta/Singapore routes and was eventually sold to the Steel Corporation of Bombay for scrapping on 18th March 1950. [Merchant Fleets, Vol.11, British India Steam Navigation Co by Duncan Haws]

John Doran


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Those known to have served in

HMHS Karapara

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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June 2017

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