SS Alcantara (1913)

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Not to be confused with RMS Alcantara (1926).
StateLibQld 1 125487 Alcantara (ship).jpg
HMS Alcantara
Name: HMS Alcantara
Builder: Harland & Wolff
Launched: October 1913
Fate: Sunk 29 February 1916
General characteristics
Tonnage: 15,620 tons[1]
Speed: 18 knots[2]
Armament: 6 x 6in guns
2 x 3pdr guns[2]

SS Alcantara was an ocean liner that went into service just weeks before the start of World War I, was converted to an armed merchant cruiser in 1914, and was sunk by the German armed merchant cruiser SMS Greif on 29 February 1916 in the North Sea.

Alcantara was built by Harland & Wolff for Royal Mail Lines, launched in October 1913 and made her maiden voyage in June 1914, following a Southampton-South America route.

In 1915 the ship was armed with six 6-inch guns,[2] anti-aircraft guns and depth charges, and commissioned as HMS Alcantara.

Battle with Greif[edit]

An artist's impression of HMS Alcantara engaging the German raider Greif.

Greif was disguised as the Norwegian Rena out of Tønsberg, Norway when intercepted by Alcantara on the morning of 29 February 1916.[2] Alcantara closed to 2000 yards and slowed to lower a boarding cutter when Greif hoisted the German battle ensign, increased speed, and opened fire.[2]

Alcantara returned fire from the port side guns.[2] Range was never more than 3000 yards.[2] One of Greifs torpedoes detonated amidships against Alcantaras port side, and one of Alcantaras shells exploded the ready ammunition for Greifs after gun.[2] Both ships lost speed.[2]

Greifs crew abandoned ship 40 minutes after opening fire.[2] Alcantara sank first.[2] The C-class light cruiser HMS Comus and M-class destroyer HMS Munster then arrived to sink the stationary Greif[2] and rescue 210 German survivors.[3]


  1. ^ Schmalenbach 1977, p. 138.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Poole 1975, pp. 52–57.
  3. ^ Schmalenbach 1977, p. 24.


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