|Career (Great Britain)|
|Owner:||Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company|
|Port of registry:||United Kingdom|
|Route:||London-Bombay passenger and mail service|
|Builder:||Harland and Wolff, Greenock|
|Launched:||26 March 1925|
|Fate:||Requisitioned by Royal Navy, 24 August 1939|
|Acquired:||24 August 1939|
|Commissioned:||19 September 1939|
|Out of service:||23 November 1939|
|Fate:||Sunk 23 November 1939, Iceland Gap|
|Type:||Armed merchant cruiser|
|Displacement:||16,697 long tons (16,965 t)|
|Length:||548 ft (167 m)|
|Beam:||69 ft (21 m)|
|Draught:||29 ft 6 in (8.99 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 x quadruple expansion four cylinder steam engines|
|Speed:||15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)|
|Armament:||8 × 6 in (150 mm) guns, 2 × 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns|
She started life as the 16,695 registered tons P. & O. Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. ocean liner SS Rawalpindi out of London. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty on 26 August 1939 and converted to an armed merchant cruiser by the addition of eight 6 in (150 mm) guns and two 3 in (76 mm) guns and set to work from October in the Northern Patrol covering the area around Iceland.
While patrolling north of the Faroe Islands on 23 November 1939, she investigated a possible enemy sighting, only to find that she had encountered two of the most powerful German warships, the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau trying to break out through the GIUK gap into the Atlantic. Rawalpindi was able to signal the German ships' location back to base. Despite being hopelessly outgunned, 60-year old Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy RN of Rawalpindi decided to fight, rather than surrender as demanded by the Germans. He was heard to say "We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye".
The German warships sank Rawalpindi within 40 minutes. 238 men died, including Captain Kennedy. Thirty-seven men were rescued by the German ships, and a further 11 were picked up by HMS Chitral (another converted passenger ship). Captain Kennedy — the father of broadcaster and author Ludovic Kennedy — was posthumously Mentioned in Dispatches.
Thanks to the actions of Rawalpindi, the German attempt to break out into the Atlantic was foiled. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were forced to return to base in order to avoid interception by the British Home Fleet.
Rawalpindi was one of the P&O 'R' class liners from 1925 that had the much of their interiors designed by Lord Inchcape's daughter Elsie Mackay. Her sister ships SS Ranchi, Ranpura and Rajputana were also converted to armed merchant cruisers. Rajputana was torpedoed by U-108 in the Denmark Strait and sunk on 13 April 1941.
|50x40px||This article includes a list of references or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (September 2009)|
- SS Rawalpindi at Clyde-built database
- Against all odds - HMS Rawalpindi
- Allied Armed Merchant Cruisers of WW2
- Scharnhorst - The History
- My Night to Remember - The Sinking of the HMS Rawalpindi