SS Laurentic was a British ocean liner of the White Star Line.
The Dominion Line steamship company operated a successful passenger service on their Liverpool-Canada route in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their ships had become outdated, so in 1907 two new liners were ordered from Harland and Wolff, and constructed at their yard in Belfast. During their construction they were purchased by the White Star Line, and become its first ships in the Canadian passenger trade.
The ships were originally named the SS Alberta and SS Albany, and after the transfer of ownership Alberta was renamed Laurentic and her sister Albany became Megantic. At the time, the two were the largest ships yet built for Canadian service and they were used as a form of full-scale experiment to decide on the machinery for the White Star Line's future Olympic-class liners.Megantic was built as a conventional twin-screw ship with conventional quadruple expansion engines, while Laurentic, with the same hull and boiler power, was given an experimental configuration consisting of three screws: The two wing propellers were driven by 4 cylinder triple expansion engines, while the third centre propeller was driven by a low pressure steam turbine, utilising the exhaust steam from the first two engines. This arrangement was found to produce significant improvements in efficiency and economy over the conventional engines of Megantic, and was chosen for use in the three Olympic-class liners.
She was converted to an armed merchant cruiser at the onset of World War I, and sank after striking two mines north of Ireland on 25 January 1917, with the loss of 354 lives. She was carrying about 43 tons of gold ingots at the time of her loss, and as of 2016, 22 bars of gold are yet to be recovered.
© Lucas Gustaffson (2017)
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