Armed Merchant Cruiser

Northern Patrol







F 51




Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool


On 26 Aug 1939 the passenger ship Laurentic of the Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser.

23 Nov 1939; The German merchant Antiochia (3106 BRT) is intercepted south of Iceland by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Laurentic. However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her crew. (62.30N 16.30W)

5 Jun 1940; In the patrol system southeast of Island following ships were identified: Auxiliary cruisers “Wolfe”, “Laurentic”, “Circassia”, “Letitia”, “California” (SKL 6/6-1940)

3 Nov 1940; At 21.40 hours on 3 November 1940, U-99 torpedoed the unescorted Casanare west of Bloody Foreland. Her distress messages brought the armed merchant cruisers HMS Laurentic (F 51) (Capt E.P. Vivian) and HMS Patroclus to the scene and the U-boat began a dramatic battle at 22.50 hours when the first torpedo struck the HMS Laurentic (F 51) from a distance of 1500 metres. After 30 minutes, a second torpedo struck the vessel, but she remained afloat. A third torpedo was fired at 23.30 hours from a distance of 250 metres into the hole opened by the first torpedo, at this time the lookouts spotted the U-boat on the surface and Kretschmer had a hard time in evading the gunfire. In the meantime, HMS Patroclus began picking up survivors instead of participating in the fight against the U-boat and her lookouts did not see U-99 only 300 metres away. A first torpedo struck the ship at 00.22 hours, a second at 00.44 hours and a third at 01.18 hours, but then the lookouts spotted the U-boat and Kretschmer had again to evade the gunfire. After that, U-99 searched for the Casanare, but only found two lifeboats at her position, the vessel had foundered in the meantime. Suddenly, a Sunderland flying boat appeared over the U-boat, which had to dive, but no bombs were dropped. Kretschmer used the time and reloaded the torpedo tubes under water. At 03.30 hours, the U-boat surfaced, went back to the auxiliary cruisers and fired a at 04.35 hours a coup de grâce from a distance of 250 metres at the HMS Laurentic (F 51). The torpedo struck the stern and ignited the depth charges stored there, this caused the ship to sink by the stern at 04.53 hours. Around this time a destroyer was spotted and Kretschmer had to sink the HMS Patroclus in a short time. A fifth torpedo at 05.16 hours had no significant effect, but the sixth torpedo at 05.25 hours caused the vessel to sink immediately. After that, U-99 was heavy attacked by the British destroyer HMS Hesperus (H 57) (LtCdr D.G.F.W. Macintyre) with depth charges, but the destroyer soon left the U-boat to pick up the survivors. (54009'N - 13044'W)

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Update: 7.11.2005