Allied Warships

HMS Laurentic (F 51)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

Laurentic as seen in merchant service before the war.

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 51 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 
Laid down 
Launched16 Jun 1927 
Commissioned15 Oct 1939 
Lost3 Nov 1940 
Loss position54° 09'N, 13° 44'W

On 26 August 1939 the passenger ship Laurentic of the Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 15 October 1939.

Displacement: 18724 BRT
Armament: 7x 140mm, 3x 102mm
Speed: 16.5 knots

October 39 - October 40: Northern Patrol
November 40: Northern and Western Patrol

At 21.40 hours on 3 November 1940, U-99 torpedoed the unescorted Casanare west of Bloody Foreland. Her distress messages brought the armed merchant cruisers HMS Laurentic (F 51) (Capt E.P. Vivian) and HMS Patroclus to the scene and the U-boat began a dramatic battle at 22.50 hours when the first torpedo struck the HMS Laurentic (F 51) from a distance of 1500 metres. After 30 minutes, a second torpedo struck the vessel, but she remained afloat. A third torpedo was fired at 23.30 hours from a distance of 250 metres into the hole opened by the first torpedo, at this time the lookouts spotted the U-boat on the surface and Kretschmer had a hard time in evading the gunfire. In the meantime, HMS Patroclus began picking up survivors instead of participating in the fight against the U-boat and her lookouts did not see U-99 only 300 metres away. A first torpedo struck the ship at 00.22 hours, a second at 00.44 hours and a third at 01.18 hours, but then the lookouts spotted the U-boat and Kretschmer had again to evade the gunfire. After that, U-99 searched for the Casanare, but only found two lifeboats at her position, the vessel had foundered in the meantime. Suddenly, a Sunderland flying boat appeared over the U-boat, which had to dive, but no bombs were dropped. Kretschmer used the time and reloaded the torpedo tubes under water. At 03.30 hours, the U-boat surfaced, went back to the auxiliary cruisers and fired a at 04.35 hours a coup de grâce from a distance of 250 metres at the HMS Laurentic (F 51). The torpedo struck the stern and ignited the depth charges stored there, this caused the ship to sink by the stern at 04.53 hours in position 54º09'N, 13º44'W. Around this time a destroyer was spotted and Kretschmer had to sink the HMS Patroclus in a short time. A fifth torpedo at 05.16 hours had no significant effect, but the sixth torpedo at 05.25 hours caused the vessel to sink immediately. After that, U-99 was heavy attacked by the British destroyer HMS Hesperus (H 57) (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. Macintyre, RN) with depth charges, but the destroyer soon left the U-boat to pick up the survivors.


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 3 Nov 1940 by U-99 (Kretschmer).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Laurentic

Commands listed for HMS Laurentic (F 51)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Capt. (retired) Eric Paul Vivian, RN2 Sep 19393 Nov 1940

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Laurentic include:

23 Nov 1939
The German merchant Antiochia (3106 GRT) is intercepted south of Iceland by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Laurentic (Capt. E.P. Vivian, RN). However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her crew in position 62°30'N, 16°30'W.

Return to the Allied Warships section