Class: LCT(2), Tank Landing Craft, then LCT(R)(2) LCT Rocket
Launched: 23 Sep 1941
At: Stockton Construction Co. on Thornaby, Briton
Length: 48.5m, 159′ 11″
Beam: 9.1m, 30′
Displacement: empty 300 ton, loaded 700 ton
Armament: 2-2 lb. pom-pom AA, a few machine guns.
Propulsion: 3 diesel engines, 16 cylinder 150 hp, 7 knots
Clandestine Immigration and Navy Museum
204 Allenby Street
Latitude: 32.8301117291, Longitude: 34.9707793723
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Af Al Pi Chen was completed as a tank landing craft mark 2 (TLC 147) in Dec 1942. She remained in the British home waters and was converted into a Landing Craft Rocket at Portsmouth Dockyard from March through May of 1943 (LCT(R)147). The conversion allowed firing of approximately 1000 rockets in preparation for a landing. There were five reloads stored below deck. The rocket stands and false deck could be disassembled after the initial assault if needed. During June of 1943 she was transferred to the Mediterranean where she served during the invasion of North Africa. She was paid off from British service in May of 1945.
In March of 1946 LCT(R)147 was transferred to the Italian Navy. Sometime after this she was purchased by an Italian shipping company and renamed Michael Parma. She was used to haul agricultural products.
In 1946 the ship landed up in the hands of the ‘Mosad le Aliyah Bet’, one of the primary forces resisting the strict British immigration quotas from 1934-1948. During this era of clandestine immigration, 122,419 people were brought to Israel by 116 ships (the vast majority between 1945-1948). Af Al Pi Chen sailed just weeks after the famous Exodus 1947 episode. She was named after this event, Af Al Pi Chen means “nevertheless” or “in spite of it all”. On 17 September 1947, Af Al Pi Chen departed Formia, Italy with 434 holocaust survivors crowded on board. She was heading toward the southern part of Palestine when she was detected by a British plane and intercepted by 4 British destroyers. There was a short struggle during which the ship rammed one of the destroyers. At last the British boarding teams took over Af Al Pi Chen and she was towed to Haifa bay. The immigrants were taken to internment camps in Cyprus, most eventually made their way to Israel in 1948.
In June 1948 the British mandate expired and the newly created Israeli Navy was scrounging for any available ship in the junkyard. Af Al Pi Chen was one of the ships they found and she participated in the 1948 Israeli independence war as a training ship.
In 1956 (Operation Musketeer) she became a tank landing craft one last time. Although her engines were broken down, it was planned to push her with a tugboat to land tanks near Gaza strip. The Israeli Defense Forces took over the area before Af Al Pi Chen arrived so the landing was no longer needed.
Af Al Pi Chen was decommissioned in 1958. In 1968 she was moved ashore and became the centerpiece of the Clandestine Immigration and Navy Museum museum in Haifa.