SS Strathmore

SS Strathmore

SS Strathmore

SS Strathmore

Gross Registered Tonnage – 23,428 tons
Length x Width – 665 feet x 82 feet
Builder and Year of Build – Vickers-Armstrongs of Barrow – 1935
First Class + Tourist Accommodation – 445 + 665 persons : Total 1,110 passengers
Sister-Vessel – None
Subsequent Names – Marianna Latsi (1963) Henrietta Latsi (1966) [Greece] Ultimate Fate – Broken up at Spezia in 1969

This ship was the third ‘Strath’ to be built. Like all the others, she was constructed by Vickers Armstrongs at Barrow. The Strathmore was launched on 4th April 1935 by the Duchess of York (now the Queen Mother). Completed by September that year, she set off on her maiden voyage on 26th October.

The ship was very similar in design to the earlier ‘Straths’. Of course, there were small differences in points of detail, some improvements having been made as a result of the earlier ships’ operations. However, passenger accommodation, public rooms and amenities were substantially the same as on the Strathnaver and Strathaird. The main external difference, of course was that she had only one funnel. Internally, the propelling machinery was different. P & O had used turbo-electric propulsion for the earlier two ‘Straths’ and also for the Viceroy of India. Although these installations had been satisfactory, there had apparently been no significant savings in running costs. The capital costs of turbo-electric equipment was higher than geared turbines, and the machinery had to be built by an electrical firm (British Thomas-Houston). The latter type could be constructed by the ship builders themselves. Consequently, this machinery was chosen for the Strathmore and the following two ‘Straths’. Steam was provided by six watertube boilers, four large and two small. Service speed, 20 knots, was the same as earlier ships.

Before setting off on her first service voyage the new ship undertook a cruise to the Canary Islands. Then, although she was intended for the Australian route, her first voyages were in fact to Bombay. In 1936 she took out the new Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, and brought back the remaining one, Lord Willingdon, to Britain. On 1st October 1937 the ship made her appearance on the Australian route, sailing via Bombay, Colombo ad Melbourne to Sydney. She continued on this service, interspersed with a little cruising, until the outbreak of war.

The Strathnaver was soon requisitioned for use as a troopship, as were all the ‘Straths’ . She saw service in most theatres of war in a rather similar manner to the Strathnaver and Strathaird. One of her many voyages found her in March 1941 a member of a vast convoy to the Middle East. There were 23 troopships in all, including all the five ‘Straths’, the Viceroy of India, four orient liners and ships of the Royal Mail, Cunard,Union castle, CPR together with Dutch and French Liners. P & O were thus well presented.

When the convoy called at Table Bay Harbour en route it was the largest ever to visit the port. The Strathnaver in fact made a detour to Bombay, but eventually reached Suez. The ship spent part of her wartime service as an LSI(L) being used for amphibious operations, but mainly she did troopings. Nearing the end of the war in Europe, the ship left Bombay in April 1945 with nearly 4,000 troops on board bound for Britain. She arrived at Port Said on ‘VE’ day, and no doubt there were celebrations on board. Later that year she left Liverpool and picked up New Zealand troops at Taranto and Suez, returning them to their homeland. A tremendous welcome awaited at Wellington. Then it was once again to Bombay to take troops back to Southampton.

The war was now over but the ship was fully employed in repatriation work visiting Europe, the far East, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She was released after completion of her final service in May 1948, and went to Vickers Armstrongs on the Tyne for refitting for P & O service once more.

On 27th October 1949 the Strathmore set off on her first post-war voyage to Australia. She was to make this voyage successfully for the next 14 years, more or less incident-free. Some engine problems delayed her a few days in 1953, and in October 1956 she collided in the Thames estuary with a Norwegian vessel, the Baalbeck, but fortunately without injuries and only slight damage.

In 1961 she was converted to ‘one class’. Like her sister Stratheden, she was periodically used for cruising, including charter sailings for the Travel Savings Association, a fairly short lived organisation.

However, on 27th October 1963 she docked for the last time At Southampton: she had been sold to the Greek ship-owner John S Latsis of Piracus. She was now renamed Marianna Latsis and used for occasional pilgrim voyages, such as from West Africa and Libya to Jeddah and as a hotel ship at Jeddah. In 1966 she was renamed Henrietta Latsis, and in 1967 was laid up in Elecius, Greece. This fine ship went to Italian breakers at La Spezia in May 1969.Incidentally this port was used on a number of occasions by the German U-Boat 562 which sank the Strathallan.