Wednesday, 17 November 2021

RMS (and HMS) Almanzora

The other large model we saw during our visit to the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre was of RMS (and HMS) Almanzora.

The Almanzora was built for the Royal Mail Line (formerly the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company) at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, who also built her sister ships, Arlanza, Andes, and Alcantara. She was launched on 19th November 1914 and delivered on 7th October 1915. She had already been taken into Royal Navy service on 23rd August 1915 as an Armed Merchant Cruiser (armed with six six-inch guns) and served with the 10th Cruiser Squadron. HMS Almanzora spent most of her service as a convoy escort in the North and Central Atlantic. She was decommissioned on 20th December 1919.

At the end of the war she was returned to her owners, who sent her back to Belfast for refurbishment. Her first-class accommodation was decorated in Tudor and Jacobean styles and she was equipped with a winter garden, something that had never been previously fitted on ships on the South American service. This refit was completed in January of 1920, and she began service on the regular Southampton to River Plate route.

At the outbreak of the Second World War she was again taken into government service, this time as a troopship. Her service took her to East and South Africa, the Red Sea, and she took part in the invasion of Sicily. She was damaged twice, once due to a collision with the troopship Orduna and once by a German aircraft that was shot down and hit her.

At the end of the war she was retained by the government, first as a troopship repatriating soldiers and displaced civilians, and then carrying emigrants from the West Indies to the United Kingdom. (One of the groups she carried were Cossacks who had served in the German Army and were returned to Russia after the war. They were either executed on their return or sent to the Gulags.)

She ended her service in 1947, when she was laid up off Cowes, Isle of White. Almanzora was broken up in 1948 by the British Iron and Steel Corporation at Blyth, Northumberland.

The ship’s characteristics were:

  • Displacement: 15,551 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 188.1m
    • Beam: 22.2m
    • Draft: 7.4m
  • Propulsion: Eight boilers providing steam to four reciprocating triple expansion engines (13,500hp)
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Passengers: 1785 (maximum); 1390 (normal, made up of 400 First Class, 230 Second Class, and 760 Third Class)

Her sister ships also had interesting careers.

Arlanza was launched in 1912 and requisitioned for service as an armed merchant cruiser during World War One. She returned to civilian service in 1920 and was scrapped 1938.

Andes was launched in 1913 and requisitioned for service as an armed merchant cruiser during World War One. She returned to civilian service after the war and was renamed Atlantis in 1929 when she became as a cruise chip. She was requisitioned for service as a hospital ship in during World War Two and after the was she was retained and used as an emigrant ship. She was scrapped in 1952.

Alcantara was launched in 1913 and requisitioned for service as an armed merchant cruiser during World War One. She was sunk as a result of a battle with the German raider SMS Greif on 29th February 1916.


  1. Replies
    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      Interestingly, the Almanzora’s voyage from Jamaica to the UK predates that of the Windrush … so perhaps people should really be talking about the ‘Almanzora Generation’.

      All the best,



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