RMS Alcantara (1926)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2014)|
Alcantara off Rio de Janeiro between 1934 and 1939
|Name:||RMS Alcantara (1926–39; 1943–58)
HMS Alcantara (1939–43)
|Owner:||Royal Mail Lines|
|Operator:||Royal Navy (1939–43)|
|Port of registry:||Belfast|
|Route:||Southampton – South America|
|Builder:||Harland & Wolff, Belfast|
|Completed:||18 February 1927|
|Fate:||Returned to civilian service 1948
Broken up 1958
|Type:||ocean liner 1926–39; 1948–58
armed merchant cruiser 1939–43
troop ship 1943–48
tonnage under deck 16,089
|Length:||630.5 ft (192.2 m) p/p
656 ft (200 m) o/a
|Beam:||78.5 ft (23.9 m)|
|Depth:||40.5 ft (12.3 m)|
|Installed power:||3,366 NHP (until 1934)
4,205 NHP (from 1934)
|Propulsion:||steam turbines (from 1934)|
|Speed:||16.5 knots (30.6 km/h) (until 1934)
19 knots (35 km/h) (from 1934)
432 1st class
223 2nd class
775 3rd class
|wireless direction finding
echo sounding device
BL 6 inch Mk XII naval guns
QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft guns
|Notes:||sister ship: RMS Asturias|
RMS Alcantara was a Royal Mail Lines ocean liner that was built in Belfast in 1926. She served in the Second World War as first an armed merchant cruiser and then a troop ship, was returned to civilian service in 1948 and scrapped in 1958.
Building and civilian service
In the 1920s Harland & Wolff of Belfast built a pair of 22,200 GRT passenger liners for Royal Mail Lines, launching Asturias in July 1925 and her sister ship Alcantara in September 1926. The latter was named after Royal Mail Lines' previous SS Alcantara that had been sunk by a German armed merchant cruiser in 1916.
Each of the two new ships was powered by a pair of eight-cylinder four-stroke double-acting diesel engines built by Burmeister & Wain of Copenhagen, Denmark. These gave each ship a speed of about 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h) and at the time made them the World's largest motor ships. The pair worked Royal Mail Lines' liner route between Southampton and ports on the east coast of South America.
In 1934 Royal Mail Lines had both ships re-engined from diesel to steam. Each was fitted with three water tube boilers supplying superheated steam at 435 lbf/in2 to a set of six steam turbines that drove her twin propeller shafts by single reduction gearing. This increased each ship's nominal horsepower by 25% and increased their speed to about 19 knots (35 km/h).
Second World War service
In 1939 the Admiralty requisitioned Alcantara and Asturias and had each ship converted into an armed merchant cruiser. Each ship's forward funnel was a dummy, so these were removed to increase the arc of fire for their anti-aircraft guns.
On 28 July 1940 Alcantara encountered the German German auxiliary cruiser Thor in the South Atlantic. Thor scored three hits on Alcantara, and was hit twice by Alcantara's six-inch main guns. One of the hits on Alcantara flooded her engine room and forced her to reduce speed, allowing Thor to escape.
In 1943 Alcantara was converted into a troop ship.
Alcantara remained a troop ship well after the end of the war, and did not return to civilian service until October 1948. Asturias remained in UK Government service as an emigrant ship, and Alcantara alone resumed their route between Southampton and South America. In April 1958 she was withdrawn from service and sold to Japanese shipbreakers who renamed her Kaisho Maru, took her to Japan and broke her up in the same year.
As part of the conversion to an auxiliary ship, mahogany wood paneling in the lobby was removed and stored in order to be replaced after the war. Eventually, the panels were not reused but were sold to the Church of Our Lady of Graces in Żabbar, Malta, where they were used as the platform for the altar for the 1951 village feast. The panels are now in the Żabbar Sanctuary Museum.
- Nicol, Stuart (2001). MacQueen's Legacy; Ships of the Royal Mail Line Two. Brimscombe Port and Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing. pp. 130–149. ISBN 0-7524-2119-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alcantara (ship, 1927).|