Allied Warships

HMS Asturias (F 71)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 71 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Island) 
Laid down 
Launched7 Jul 1925 
CommissionedOct 1939 
End service25 Jul 1943 

On 28 August 1939 the passenger ship Asturias of the Royal Mail Lines Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 28 September 1939

Displacement: 22048 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 19 knots

October 39: Halifax Escort Force
November 39 - April 40: Northern Patrol
May 40: North Atlantic Escort Force
June 40: Northern Patrol
July 40 - April 43: South Atlantic Station
May 43 - July 43: West Africa Command

On 25 July 1943 torpedoed and badly damaged by the Italian submarine Ammiraglio Cagni (Roselli-Lorenzini) in position 06°52'N, 20°45'W, towed to Freetown and laid up. On 30 May 1944 handed over to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and towed to Belfast for rebuild as troop transport. 1957 scrapped.


Commands listed for HMS Asturias (F 71)

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1Capt. (retired) Claud Finlinson Allsup, DSO, RN4 Sep 193925 Nov 1939
2Capt. John Robert Sutherland Haines, RN25 Nov 193924 Oct 1940
3Capt. (retired) Hubert Ardill, RN24 Oct 19402 Mar 1943
4Capt. Richard Meuric Southern, RN2 Mar 194328 Apr 1943
5Capt. (retired) Sir John Meynell Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN28 Apr 1943

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Notable events involving Asturias include:

18 Jan 1941
HMS Asturias (Capt. H. Ardill (retired), RN) while patrolling in the Plate area, intercepts and captures the Vichy-French freighter Mendoza (8199 GRT).

21 Jan 1941
As ordered on 19 January, HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN), made rendez-vous with the armed merchant cruiser HMS Asturias (Capt.(Retd.) H. Ardill, RN) and the Vichy-French passenger/cargo ship Mendoza (8199 GRT, built 1920) she had captured on the 18th. The prize crew of the Asturias was now replaced by one of the Dorsetshire. The Mendoza then proceeded to Freetown independently. (1)

27 May 1941
HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) arrived at Samborombón Bay, River Plate area where she joined HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral F.H. Pegram, DSO, RN) and the RFA tanker Abbeydale (8299 GRT, built 1937). Shortly afterwards the armed merchant cruiser HMS Asturias (Capt.(Retd.) H. Ardill, RN) also arrived.

HMS Newcastle fuelled from the Abbeydale and Rear-Admiral Pegram transferred his flag to her.

Around 2100P, HMS Newcastle and HMS Cumberland proceeded on patrol in company with each other. (2)


  1. ADM 53/114129 + ADM 199/394
  2. ADM 53/114785

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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