MS Batory

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MS Batory 1937.jpg
MS Batory in Gdynia, MS Piłsudski seen behind, 1937
Class overview
Completed: 2
Career Flag of Poland (with coat of arms).svg
Name: MS Batory
Namesake: Stefan Batory
Owner: Gdynia America Line
from 1 January 1951: Polskie Linie Oceaniczne
Port of registry: Gdynia, Poland
Ordered: 29 November 1933
Builder: Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico, Monfalcone
Yard number: 1127
Laid down: 1 May 1934
Launched: 3 July 1935
Acquired: 23 April 1936
In service: 17 May 1936
Out of service: 2 June 1971
Identification: Radio Callsign SPEE
Fate: scrapped
General characteristics
Type: ocean liner
Tonnage: 14 287 BRT
Length: 160.4 m
Beam: 21.6 m
Draft: 7.5 m
Decks: 4 + 3 in superstucture
Installed power: two Sulzer 2SSA 9-cylinder diesel engines, 12 680 hp (12 500 hp from April 1947)
Propulsion: 2 screws
Speed: 18 knots
Capacity: to March 1940: 760
from March 1940: 1650 troops
from February 1941: 2200 troops
from April 1947: 832
from May 1957: 816
from June 1969: 600
Crew: to December 1939: 313
from April 1947: 343

The M/S Batory was a large (14,287 BRT) ocean liner of the Polish merchant fleet, named after Stefan Batory, the famous sixteenth-Century king of Poland.

She was built at the Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico Monfalcone Shipyard in Trieste, Italy, under an arrangement where part of her payment was made in shipments of coal from Poland. She was among the most notable tourist attractions of the Polish seaside and among the best-known Polish ships of the time. She was launched on 3 July 1935. The ship was powered by 2 sets of Burmeister and Wain diesel engines driving 2 screws giving a speed of 18 knots. She began regular service in May 1936 on the Gdynia—New York run, and by 1939 she had carried over 30,000 passengers.

Mobilized at the outbreak of World War II, she served as a troop transport and a hospital ship by the Allied Navy for the rest of the war. In 1940 she, along with M/S Chrobry, transported allied troops to Norway. She was also responsible for secretly shipping many valuable Polish treasures to Canada for safekeeping. She participated in the evacuation of Dunkirk late May early June, taking aboard 2,500 persons. Later she carried as many as 6,000 people in one evacuation. In June to July, she secretly transported much of Britain's gold reserves (₤40 million) from Greenock, Scotland to Montreal, Canada for safekeeping. On 4 August 1940 she left Liverpool with convoy WS 2 (Winston's Specials) transporting 480 children to Sydney Australia, under the Children's Overseas Reception Board for safekeeping until the war was over. She sailed via Cape Town, India, Singapore (where she disembarked 300 troops) and Sydney. The journey had been a happy one, with so much music and laughter that the Batory was dubbed the "Singing Ship" and was the subject of a book [1] by the same name.

She was involved in the invasion of Oran in Algeria in 1942, transported troops to India and the invasions of Sicily and southern France, where she was the flagship of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Commander-in-Chief of the French Army. She came under attack several times from the ground and the air, but managed to escape serious damage.

Dubbed the Lucky Ship for her military career during World War II, she was a sister ship to the less fortunate MS Piłsudski which was sunk in November 1939.


Returned to Poland in 1946, she continued her civilian service, transporting such eminents as Ryszard Kapuściński. From May 1949 through January 1951, she was the subject of several political incidents in which dockers and shipyard workers in the United States refused to unload cargo from her, or to service the ship by drydocking and painting.


After these incidents, she was withdrawn from the North Atlantic route, refurbished at Hepburn for tropic service, and sailed in August 1951 from Gdynia and Southampton to Bombay and Karachi, via Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, and Suez. In 1957, she returned to the North Atlantic route. She continued in service until 1971, when she was scrapped in Hong Kong.

She was replaced by TSS Stefan Batory, which began service in April 1969.


  1. ^ The singing ship : an odyssey of evacuee children, Meta Maclean, Angus and Robertson, Sydney. 1941,
  • ts/s Stefan Batory. (1971). Polish Ocean Lines, Gdynia, Poland.
  • Cruising Ships, W.H. Mitchell and L. A. Sawyer, Doubleday, 1967

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