SS Orduña

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Tug towing SS Orduña to sea
United Kingdom
NameSS Orduña
OwnerPacific Steam Navigation Company
Port of registryUnited Kingdom Liverpool
RouteNorth Atlantic
BuilderHarland and Wolff, Belfast
Launched2 October 1913
Maiden voyage19 February 1914
Out of serviceNovember 1950
FateScrapped 1951 at Dalmuir, Scotland
General characteristics
Class and typeOcean liner
Tonnage15,507 GRT
Length550.3 feet (167.7 m)
Beam67.3 feet (20.5 m)
Draught35 feet 10+14 inches (10.93 m)
Depth43.0 feet (13.1 m)
PropulsionTriple-expansion engines + low-pressure turbine; Triple screw[1]
Speed15 knots (28 km/h)
Capacity896 passengers

SS Orduña or Orduna was an ocean liner built in 1913–14 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. After two voyages she was chartered to Cunard Line. In 1921 she went to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, then being resold to the PSNCo in 1926. Her sister ships were Orbita and Orca.[2]

She provided transatlantic passenger transport, measured approximately 15,500 gross tons, and was 550.3 ft x 67.3 ft.[3]


First World War[edit]

Orduna was used as a troop transport in the First World War running from Halifax, Canada to Liverpool with notables such as Quentin Roosevelt on board.

In January 1915 Orduna rescued the Russian crew of the sailing ship Loch Torridon, which had sprung a leak while transporting timber off the west coast of Ireland.[4] Later in July 1915, en route to New York City, Orduna was targeted by a U-boat. The torpedo, which was spotted by Captain Taylor, missed the ship, which arrived safely.

In 1918 Orduna collided with the 4,406-ton steamer Konakry, carrying a cargo of ballast from Queenstown to Trinidad. Konakry was lost in the accident.

In 1919 the British actress Marie Empress went missing after being seen in her cabin the day before the Orduna reached New York. Her disappearance remained a mystery and she was declared dead in 1921.[5]

Between the wars[edit]

In April 1923 she was involved in another rescue, transporting the crew of the barquentine Clitha, which had been abandoned and set on fire, to England after they had been rescued by the schooner Jean Campbell.

In 1925, Dean James E. Lough of the Extra-Mural Division of the New York University chartered Orduna for the transport of 213 students to France, with lectures taking place on board.[6]

In 1938 the Orduna was used for the third and final 'Peace Cruise', carrying 460 Scouters and Guiders, including Robert and Olave Baden-Powell, and their daughter Heather, on a cruise to Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Belgium. Orduna left Liverpool on 8 August, returning on 25 August via Dover.[7]

Robert Baden-Powell was too ill to leave the ship during the voyage, but parties of local Scouts visited him on the ship at most of the stops, while the Scouters and Guiders on the ship took the opportunity to tour local landmarks and attend receptions. During the stop at Reykjavík on Thursday, 11 August, during which Orduna moored beside the German cruiser Emden, a party from the Scouts of Iceland brought some rock on board so that Baden-Powell could still 'set foot in Iceland'.[8] The Orduna called at Trondheim, Norway, on 15 August, Copenhagen, Denmark on 18 August, and Belgium on Sunday 21 August, before returning to England. In September 1938 she was at Nassau, Bahamas and Kingston, Jamaica[9]

Second World War[edit]

During the 1939 "Voyage of the Damned" affair, where German Jewish refugees were refused entry into Cuba, the United States and Canada, Cuban authorities allowed only 48 passengers, all of whom held landing permits, but refused permission for the remaining 72 passengers aboard the Orduna to land in Havana.[10]

On 12 August 1940, she sailed from Liverpool arriving Nassau 30 August, with a privately organised party of 16 children from Belmont Preparatory school, Hassocks Sussex. It was part of a wider Government children's evacuation programme Children's Overseas Reception Board during World War II, when the prospect of imminent invasion threatened Britain.

With the need for military transport in the Second World War, in 1941 she was put into service by the British government as a troopship. Another task during the Second World War was that of an evacuation transport.[11][12]

In the autumn of 1945 the Orduña brought back Prisoners of War and internees from the Far East, landing at Princes Landing Stage in Liverpool on 19 October. A memorial to the ships involved in the repatriation was unveiled on the Liverpool waterfront on 15 October 2011.

Post-Second World War[edit]

In 1947 conditions for troops returning from Port Said in Egypt on the Orduna, said to include overcrowding and poor food, were raised with the Secretary of State for War.[13]


Orduna was decommissioned and laid up in November 1950 and dismantled the following year in Dalmuir, Scotland.[14]


  1. ^ postcard of sister ship Orbita
  2. ^ RMSPCo
  3. ^ Passenger lists and Emigrant ships from Norway-Heritage
  4. ^ The "LOCH TORRIDON" Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Daugherty, Greg. "The Silent Film Star Who Vanished Without a Trace". HISTORY. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Shipboard lecture during a Travel School excursion". 175 Facts About NYU. New York University. Archived from the original on 21 April 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Heather". The World Chief Guide website. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  8. ^ Eileen K. Wade. "27 Years with Baden-Powell". Archived from the original on 15 February 1998. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  9. ^ David Horry postmark 26 September 1938
  10. ^ A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939 Archived 2 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts, Voyage of the Damned (New York: Stein and Day, 1974), p. 37.
  12. ^ The Tragedy of the S.S. St. Louis
  13. ^ HANSARD 1803–2005 → 1940s → 1947 → March 1947 → 10 March 1947 → Written Answers (Commons) → BRITISH ARMY
  14. ^ British Armed Forces & National Service[permanent dead link]