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Laurentic II
  • Builder: Harland and Wolff
  • Yard No.: 470
  • Launched: 16th June, 1927
  • Maiden Voyage: 12th November, 1927 Liverpool - New York
  • Gross Tonnage: 18,724 tons
  • Length: 600 feet
  • Beam: 75.4 feet
  • Decks: 3
  • Funnels: 2
  • Masts: 2
  • Propellers: 3
  • Engines: 2 x 3 cylinder triple expansion + low pressure turbine to middle prop.
  • Boilers: 4 single + 4 double ended boilers
  • Speed: 16.5 knots
  • Port of Registry: Liverpool
  • Carrying Capacity: 594 in cabin class, 406 in tourist class, 500 in third class
  • Sister Ships: N/A

Laurentic II was launched at Harland and Wolff's Belfast yard on the 16th June, 1927. At the time of her design and construction, the White Star Line were struggling financially, and Laurentic II was built a fixed price contract with Harland and Wolff, whereas the rest of the fleet had been built on the 'cost plus' basis. But despite the company's financial shortcomings, Laurentic II was built with coal fired boilers, which use a lot more crew, and her engines were the same as those fitted to her namesake, Laurentic I, which was built in 1908. Another quirk, which all cost money to put right of course, was that Laurentic II's masts were too tall to pass under a bridge at Montreal, Canada, the very place she was built to operate!

On the 1st November, 1927, Laurentic II underwent her sea trials, carrying guests to Liverpool, and her maiden voyage followed on the 12th November, between Liverpool and New York.

Laurentic II made her first sailing on the Liverpool, Quebec and Montreal route on the 27th April, 1928.

On the 3rd October, 1932, Laurentic II collided with the Mountain Steam Ship Company's Lurigethan, in the Strait of Belle Isle, with just over half of the blame apportioned to Laurentic II

On the 10th May, 1934, Laurentic II became part of the Cunard White Star Line fleet, operating on the same route.

On the 13th July, 1935, Laurentic II was placed on summer cruises, with passengers paying a fare of just £1 per day. On the 18th August, Laurentic II left Liverpool carrying 600 passengers on a Northern Capitals cruise, when she was hit, at night, in fog, by the Blue Star Line's Napier Star, off the Skerries, in the Irish Sea. Six of Laurentic II's crew were killed, and on the 19th April, she was taking to Liverpool's Gladstone graving dock to be repaired, and in December, she was laid up at the Bidston Dock, Birkenhead, for the best part of a year.

On the 14th September, 1936, Laurentic II made a trooping voyage to Palestine.

In the January of 1937, Laurentic II was laid up in Southampton Water.

The following year, Laurentic II was moved to the River Dart, in Dartmouth.

In the September of 1939, Laurentic II was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser at Plymouth, which included the removal of her after mast and derrick posts. Laurentic II was armed with seven 5.5", and three 4.0" anti-aircraft guns. She was painted with a livery of a black hull and funnels, with brown buff uppers. On the 29th November, Laurentic II intercepted the Hamburg America Line's Antiochia off Iceland. Antiochia's crew began to scuttle her, but the crew of Laurentic II managed to get some much needed target practice in before she sank.

Early in 1940, Laurentic II became grounded in fog on Islay, Scotland, and was out of service for six weeks whilst under repair by Harland and Wolff. On 3rd November, Laurentic II was torpedoed three times by U-99, off the Bloody Foreland, commanded by Otto Kretschmer, one of Germany's top U-Boat aces. The disaster caused the loss of 49 lives, however, 367 were saved. U-99 had previously attacked the Elder Fyffes Line's Casanare, at 21.40. Laurentic II had gone to help Casanare, and was torpedoed trying to assist. The Armed Merchant Cruiser Patroclus, of the A. Holt Line, moved in to pick up Laurentic II's crew. On the 4th November, at 00.02, U-99 put the first of five torpedoes in to Patroclus, with the loss of 79 people. The final strikes were logged, by U-99, at 04.53, and 05.25. There was a lot of controversy at the time, as to the wisdom of the Patroclus being at the site of Laurentic II's sinking with a U-Boat still in the area.

 

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