|Launched:||Banana boat, 1937|
|Reclassified:||Hospital ship, 1940|
|Fate:||Captured by the British, 10 April 1941|
|Name:||HMS Ramb IV|
|Acquired:||10 April 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk, 10 May 1942|
|Displacement:||3,667 long tons (3,726 t)|
|Speed:||18.5 knots (34.3 km/h)|
|Part of:||Red Sea Flotilla|
The four ships were built for the Royal Banana Monopoly Business (Regia Azienda Monopolio Banane). These ships were originally devised as "banana boats" for transporting refrigerated bananas from Somaliland and Eritrea in Italian East Africa.
In the event of war, the design of Ramb IV allowed it to be refitted as an "auxiliary cruiser" for commerce raiding. She was 3,667 tons displacement, oil powered, and capable of 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h) knots. Following a declaration of war, Ramb IV was capable of being armed with two 120-millimetre (4.7 in) guns and eight 13.2-millimetre (0.52 in) anti-aircraft guns and of becoming an auxiliary cruiser.
Instead, Ramb IV was converted into a hospital ship for the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina). The goal of Ramb IV, in case of fall of Eritrea, was transporting Italian wounded back to Italy. However, this mission was impossible because of the British control of the Suez Canal. In addition, it would have been suicide to attempt to round the Cape of Good Hope and enter the Mediterranean Sea past Gibraltar. The work to convert the banana boat to a hospital ship was performed at the Eritrean port of Massawa. Ramb IV was part of the Italian Navy's Red Sea Flotilla.
When the port of Massawa fell on 10 April 1941 during the East African Campaign, the British captured Ramb IV. Pressed into British service, she then operated in the Red Sea and later off Libya. Ramb IV was bombed and set afire by German aircraft and sank off Alexandria in Egypt on 10 May 1942.
- "Ramb IV". ShipwrecksofEgypt.com. Retrieved 27 December 2012.