Gross Tonnage - 18,724 tons
Dimensions - 176.22 x 22.98m (578.2 x 75.4ft)
Number of funnels - 2
Number of masts - 2
Construction - Steel
Propulsion - Triple screw
Engines - Eight cylindered triple expansion engines combined with steam turbines
Service speed - 16 knots
Builder - Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Launch date - 16 June 1927
Passenger accommodation - 594 cabin class, 406 tourist class, 500 3rd class
The Laurentic was the last triple expansion coal fired major Atlantic liner. It shared the same engine and propulsion system as the first Laurentic, built in 1908. After its launch in June and trials at Liverpool during November it made its maiden voyage, from Liverpool to New York, on 12 November 1927. By April 1928 the Laurentic had begun to sail on the Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal route. Whilst serving this route it collided with Lurigethan, a Mountain Steamship Co. vessel, in the Strait of Belle Isle. Both ships were damaged, but not irrevocably, and found equally to blame.
The Laurentic became part of the newly formed Cunard White Star Line in 1934, but continued to operate on the same route as previously. By July, however, it ceased to serve the Canadian route and began cruising the northern capitals of Europe. On 18 August 1935 it was struck by the Napier Star, a Blue Star Line vessel, off the Skerries in the Irish Sea. The collision was serious and as a result 6 crew members were killed. The ship was able to return to Liverpool and underwent repairs in Gladstone Dock. By December that year the future of the ship was uncertain and as a result it was laid up in Birkenhead until the following September.
On 14 September 1936 it the Laurentic made a trooping voyage to Palestine. After this it was laid at Southampton and Falmouth until the outbreak of World War II. The war brought new employment for the ship and in September 1939 it was converted into an armed merchant cruiser at Plymouth. The masts and derrick posts were removed, the ship was repainted and then it was fitted with several 6 inch and anti-aircraft guns. On 29 November it succeeded in intercepting the Antiochia, a Hamburg America vessel, off Iceland. The German ship scuttled itself but was used for target practice while sinking.
Early in 1940 the ship was grounded at Islay, during thick fog, but was quickly repaired by Harland & Wolff. On 3 November the Laurentic was torpedoed three times and sunk by German submarine U.99 off Bloody Foreland in the North Western Approaches with the loss of 49 lives. One of the accompanying vessels, Partoclus, went to assist but was also torpedoed and sank with further loss of life. There was later controversy over the Partoclus' decision to stop and assist when the U-boat was likely to still be present. Otto Kretschmer, the captain of U.99, was later decorated by Adolf Hitler with the equivalent of the British Victoria Cross.
Return to ship page