The successor of the Laconia of 1911, Cunard’s second Laconia was launched on 9 April 1921 at the Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson yard in England.
The ship sailed on her maiden voyage in May 1922 from Southampton to New York, and a year later became well known for undertaking the first Cunard World Cruise. This world voyage lasted 130 days and visited over 20 ports.
In September 1934, Laconia collided with a US freighter, Pan Royal, off the coast of the USA. Both ships were extensively damaged, however Laconia returned to New York and after repairs resumed cruising in 1935.
Laconia was requisitioned for use in World War II during September 1939, and was concerted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. She had several six-inch guns fitted to her deck as well as three-inch high-angle guns.
Laconia was torpedoed on 12 September 1942 while off the coast of Ascension Island. At the time, she was carrying over 450 Italian P.O.W’s.
The U-Boat that torpedoed Laconia; U-156, surfaced to offer assistance to survivors. However, the subsequent attack of U-156 and other assisting German submarines led to the ‘Laconia Order’ which ended U-Boat assistance towards survivors of ships they sunk.
Image sourced with permission from: Simplon Post Cards