The Unlucky Laurentics

The Unlucky Laurentics


There were two White Star liners named Laurentic. Both met similar, tragic ends.

On 3 November 1940, during World War II’s Battle of the North Atlantic, Laurentic (1927) was torpedoed and sunk by U-99 off the west coast of Ireland, leading to the loss of 49 lives. On 25 January 1917, during World War I, Laurentic (1908) struck two mines and sank, killing 354.

There never was a third Laurentic.

Laurentic (1908) left and Laurentic (1927) right.

Laurentic (1908) and Laurentic (1927).

Laurentic (1908) was assigned to White Star Line’s Canada service. Her innovative triple expansion engines powering sided propellers and a low-pressure turbine for the central propeller were designed to test the then-new technology for future White Star liners, including Olympic and Titanic. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the liner was converted into a troop transport for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It was in this role that she met her end.

Laurentic (1908) was carrying approximately 43 tons of gold bars in her second class baggage room when she sank. Most of this precious cargo was retrieved long ago (the Royal Navy supposedly made over 5,000 dives to the wreck site during the years between World War I and World War II).  Twenty-two gold bars remain missing, however. They are likely scattered about the debris field and possibly under the vessel’s hull.

Laurentic (1927) was the final coal-burning ship built for White Star Line. She was equipped with two quadruple expansion engines powering sided propellers and a low=pressure turbine for the central propeller, based on the same technology developed for her namesake predecessor.

When World War II broke out, she was converted into an auxiliary cruiser and became HMS Laurentic. She was responding to a call for help from a torpedoed ship when she herself was attacked.

Laurentic (1927) holds the dubious distinction of being the last White Star vessel to sink at sea.

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