RMS Durham Castle

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StateLibQld 1 141491 Durham Castle (ship).jpg
Durham Castle in Australian waters prior to being requisitioned by the Royal Navy
United Kingdom
NameRMS Durham Castle
NamesakeDurham Castle
BuilderFairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan
Launched17 December 1903[1]
FateSunk by a mine on 26 January 1940
General characteristics
TypePassenger ship
Tonnage8,217 gross register tons[2]
Length475.4 feet (144.9 m)
Beam56.7 feet (17.3 m)
Draught31.6 feet (9.6 m)
PropulsionTwin screw

RMS Durham Castle was a passenger ship built for the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company in 1904.[3] In 1939, the Admiralty requisitioned her for use as a store ship.[3] She sank on 26 January 1940 after hitting a mine probably laid by the German submarine U-57.[3]

Construction and service[edit]

Built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan, Durham Castle was launched on 17 December 1903, as the sister ship of RMS Dover Castle. She served the Cape of Good Hope to Mombasa service from 1910, and continued in commercial service during the First World War, with occasional troopship duties. She was part of a convoy sailing up the English Channel in June 1918, in company with the Union-Castle RMS Kenilworth Castle and escorted by the cruiser HMS Kent and five destroyers. On 4 June HMS Kent was leaving the convoy, but owing to a misunderstanding, cut across Kenilworth Castle's bows. Turning to avoid Kent, Kenilworth Castle instead collided with the destroyer HMS Rival, and sustained severe damage and several casualties.

Durham Castle sailed on the East African route from 1931, travelling via the Suez Canal, and was withdrawn from service in 1939 after being replaced by RMS Pretoria Castle. The Admiralty acquired her after the outbreak of the Second World War for use as a storeship. She was taken in tow, bound for Scapa Flow as a base accommodation ship, but on 26 January 1940 she struck a mine off Cromarty and sank. The mine was probably one that had been laid by U-57.


  1. ^ "Durham Castle". Clydebuiltships. Archived from the original on 8 November 2004. Retrieved 30 November 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ "Lloyd's Register 1934-35" (PDF). plimsollshipdata. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Warlow, Ben (2000). Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy. Maritime Books. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-907771-74-6.