RMS Laconia (1911)
RMS Laconia at New York
|Namesake:||Laconia in the Peloponnese|
|Builder:||Swan Hunter, Wallsend, England|
|Launched:||27 July 1911|
|Acquired:||12 December 1911|
|Maiden voyage:||20 January 1912|
|Fate:||Torpedoed and sunk 25 February 1917 by SM U-50|
|Class and type:||Ocean liner|
|Length:||183 m (600 ft)|
|Beam:||22 m (72 ft)|
|Installed power:||Eight-cylinder quadruple-expansion engines by Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company|
|Speed:||17 knots (31 km/h)|
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. She continued to serve on the East Africa station, before returning to the UK with a convoy in June 1916. She was handed back to Cunard in July 1916 and on 9 September resumed service.
On 25 February 1917 she was torpedoed by SM U-50 6 nautical miles (11 km) northwest by west of Fastnet while returning from the USA to England with 75 passengers (34 first class and 41 second class) and a crew of 217 commanded by Captain Irvine. The first torpedo struck the liner on the starboard side just abaft the engine room, but did not sink her. 20 minutes later a second torpedo exploded in the engine room, again on the starboard side, and the vessel sank at 10:20 pm. 12 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. The death of the Hoys stirred up public opinion in America against the Germans, and raised public support for the United States entering the war.
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 nautical miles (300 km) 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." The search for the wreck was featured on an episode of Discovery Channel's Treasure Quest titled "The Silver Queen". One of the artifacts recovered during their investigation of the wreck happened to be the remains of a left shoe that likely belonged to one of the ship's female passengers.
- "Laconia". Retrieved 2010-07-15.
- "The Cunard Liner Laconia" (PDF). The Engineer. Vol. 113. 26 January 1912. pp. 85–57.
- "Battle for the treasure chest that changed the course of the Great War". The Independent. London. 17 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- "R.M.S. Laconia I (1912) of the Cunard Steamship Line - Ship History and Information". Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. Ament-Gjenvick Group.
- Gibbons, Floyd (1918). "The Sinking of the Cunard Line R.M.S. Laconia (I)". And They Thought We Wouldn't Fight. Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. New York: George H. Doran Company.
- "Inspection Card for Immigrants and Steerage Passengers - 1913". Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. Ament-Gjenvick Group.
- "Steamship Ticket - Contract for Passage - Norwegian Immigrant - 1913". Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. Ament-Gjenvick Group.
- "The Cunard New Twin-Screw Steamers R.M.S. FRANCONIA and LACONIA (1912)". Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. Ament-Gjenvick Group.
- Gibbons, Floyd (1953) [First published 1918]. "The Sinking of the Laconia". In Gibbons, Edward. Your Headline Hunter. Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. New York: Exposition Press.