RMS Laconia (1911)

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RMS Laconia at New York.
RMS Laconia at New York
Career Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: RMS Laconia
Owner: Cunard Line
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd.
Launched: 27 July 1911
Acquired: 12 December 1911
Maiden voyage: 20 January 1912
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk 25 February 1917 by the German U-boat U-50
General characteristics
Class and type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 18,099 tons
Length: 183m (600 feet)
Beam: 22m (72 feet)
Installed power: Eight-cylinder quadruple-expansion engines by Wallsend Slipway Co Ltd
Propulsion: Twin propellers
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)

Passenger accommodations:

  • 300 1st class
  • 350 2nd Class
  • 2,200 3rd Class

RMS Laconia was a Cunard ocean liner built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, launched on 27 July 1911, delivered to the Cunard Line on 12 December 1911, and began service on 20 January 1912. She was the first Cunard ship of that name.

On the outbreak of World War I Laconia was converted into an armed merchant cruiser in 1914 and based at Simon's Town, South Africa in the South Atlantic, from which she patrolled the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean until April 1915. She was then used as a headquarters ship for the operations to capture Tanga and the colony of German East Africa. Four months later she returned to the patrolling of the South Atlantic. She was handed back to Cunard in July 1916 and on 9 September resumed service.

On 25 February 1917 she was torpedoed by the German U-50 six miles (11 km) northwest by west of Fastnet while returning from the United States to England with 75 passengers (34 first class and 41 second class) and a crew of 217 under the command of Captain Irvine. The first torpedo struck the liner on the starboard side just abaft the engine room, but did not sink her. Twenty minutes later a second torpedo exploded in the engine room, again on the starboard side, and the vessel sank at 10:20 pm. Twelve people were killed, six crew and six passengers, including two American citizens, Mrs. Mary Hoy and her daughter, Miss Elizabeth Hoy, who were originally from Chicago.

Chicago Tribune reporter Floyd Gibbons was aboard Laconia when it was torpedoed and gained fame from his dispatches about the attack.


In March 2009, it was announced that the wreck of the Laconia was located and claimed by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., a commercial archaeology company in Tampa, Florida. She was found about 160 miles off of the coast of Ireland. "Britain claims it is the legitimate owner of the wrecks because, under a wartime insurance scheme, it paid the owners of the vessels when they sank, in effect making the remains the property of the taxpayer."[1]

General characteristics

  • Gross Tonnage: 18,099 tons
  • Length: 183m (600 feet)
  • Beam: 22m (72 feet)
  • Number of funnels: 2
  • Number of masts: 2
  • Construction: Steel
  • Propulsion: Twin propellers
  • Engines: Eight-cylinder quadruple-expansion engines by Wallsend Slipway Co Ltd
  • Service speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
  • Builder: Swann, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne
  • Passenger accommodation: 300 1st class; 350 2nd Class; 2,200 3rd Class

See also


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