List of auxiliary and merchant cruisers

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The following is a list, by period and country, of armed merchant ships used since the late 19th century in the role of auxiliary cruisers, also called armed merchant cruisers.

RMS Carmania sinking SMS Cap Trafalgar near the Brazilian islands of Trindade, 14 September 1914.

Ships by period

Spanish–American War

American auxiliary cruisers

Name Comment
Badger (ex-Yumuri)
Buffalo (ex-El Cid)
Dixie (ex-El Rio)
Panther (ex-Austin)
Prairie (ex-El Sol)
USS Resolute
Yankee (ex-El Norte)
Yosemite (ex-El Sud)

Russo-Japanese War

Japanese merchant cruisers

Name Comment
America Maru
Bingo Maru
Hong Kong Maru
Kasuga Maru
Kumano Maru
Nikko Maru
Nippon Maru
Saikyo Maru
Shinano Maru
Taichu Maru
Tainan Maru
Yobo (ex-Yobo Maru)

Russian merchant cruisers

Note: This listing is incomplete.

Name Comment

World War I

Allied merchant cruisers

Royal Navy
Name Notes
Alcantara Lost on 29 February 1916.
Almanzora In service 23 Aug. 15-20 Dec 19. 1 of over 60 commissioned AMC's employed on patrol and later convoy protection, 33 served with 10th Cruiser Squadron on Northern Patrol.
Alsatian Post war, Allan line was taken over by CP and SS Alsatian was named RMS Empress of France 4 April 1919.
Ambrose Became depot ship October 1915.[1]
Aramadale Castle
Avenger Ex-Aotearoa, torpedoed and lost on 14 June 1917.
Bayano Lost on 11 March 1915 off Carswell Point, Stranraer - sunk by U-27.[2]
Calgarian Lost on 1 March 1918.
Calyx Ex-Calypso, lost 10 July 1916.[1]
Candidate Torpedoed 6 May 1915, sunk by U-20
Caribbean Became accommodation ship July 1915, foundered 26 September 1915.[1]
Carmania Victor of the
Battle of Trindade
, served at Gallipoli and thereafter as a troopship, returned to civilian service by 1919.
City of London
Clan Macnaughton Lost on 3 February 1915.
Columbella Ex-Columbia, Anchor Line.
Digby Transferred to French Navy as Artois on 24 November 1915, renamed Digby July 1917.
Edinburgh Castle
Empress of Asia
Empress of Britain
Empress of Japan
Empress of Russia Requisitioned 1914, released to civilian service October 1915, re-requisitioned 1918 until 1919.
Eskimo Returned from Navy July 1915, Captured 26 July 1916.[1]
Hilary Lost on 25 May 1917, sunk by U-88.
India Lost on 8 August 1915.
Kildonan Castle
Kinfauns Castle
Laconia Lost on 25 February 1917, sunk by U-50.
Laurentic Lost on 23 January 1917.
Lusitania Although on the list of the British Admiralty's AMCs, it never performed in this role, and remained in civilian use. Lost 7 May 1915, sunk by U-20. Sister ship of RMS Mauretania, also on this list.
Marmora Lost on 23 July 1918.
Mauretania Sister ship of RMS Lusitania, also on this list.
Moldavia Lost on 23 May 1918.
Narkunda Was serving as an auxiliary transport during the Allied landings in French North Africa in November, 1942. She had disembarked her troops at Bougie and had turned about for home when, toward evening on the 14th, she was bombed and sunk some distance off Bougie. Thirty-one persons were killed. Capt. Parfitt was among the survivors.[3]
Oceanic Lost on 8 September 1914, ran aground. RMS Oceanic was one of the rescue vessels that retrieved bodies from the
sinking of the RMS Titanic
in 1912.
Olympic Rammed U-103 on 12 May 1918, the only known incident in World War I in which a merchant vessel sank an enemy warship.
Ophir Converted to Hospital Ship in 1918. Returned to the owners in 1919 but never refitted, being broken up in 1922.
Orama Lost on 19 October 1917.
Orbita Also served in the
Second World War
as a troop carrier from 1941 to 1946.
Oropesa Transferred to France as Champagne on 2 December 1915. Renamed as Oropesa in July 1917.
Otranto Survived the Battle of Coronel, stranded on Islay after a collision with the steamship Kashmir on 6 October 1918.
Otway Lost on 23 July 1917 torpedoed by German submarine UC 49.
Patia Lost on 13 June 1918.
Princess Ex-Kronprincess Cecilie; Acted as dummy battleship HMS Ajax.[4]
Teutonic Commissioned into the 10th Cruiser Squadron. In 1916, she was refitted with 6-inch guns, and served as a convoy escort ship as well as being used for troop transport.
Viknor Ex-RMS Atrato (1888), RMS Viking (1912). Lost on 13 January 1915 off Tory Island.
Royal Australian Navy
Name Comment
Berrima Became Troop Carrier, October 1914.
French Navy
Name Comment
Artois Ex-Royal Navy Digby.
Champagne Ex-Royal Navy Oropesa, lost on 9 October 1917.

German auxiliary cruisers

Name Comment
Cap Trafalgar Used the alias Carmania; Cap Trafalgar was sunk by RMS Carmania which used the alias Cap Trafalgar.
Iltis Formerly Turritella and Gutenfels
Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
Kronprinz Wilhelm
Prinz Eitel Friedrich
Victoria Luise Formerly Deutschland
Vineta Formerly Cap Polonio
Wolf Formerly Belgravia
Wolf Formerly Wachtfels

Spanish Civil War



Name Comment
Mar Cantábrico Formerly a merchant ship under Republican control, she was captured by the Nationalist cruiser
Vulcano, she took the largest foreign prize of the war with the capture of the Greek steamer Victoria, of 6,600 long tons (6,700 t), on 16 May 1938.[5]
Mar Negro A freighter under Republican flag at the beginning of the war, her captain and crew changed loyalties off Bone in September 1937, while returning to Barcelona from the Soviet Union.[5] She seized the last foreign cargo ship captured during the civil war, the British Stangate off Valencia on 16 March 1939, despite the opposition of HMS Sussex.[6][7]
Ciudad de Valencia She used the alias Nadir for operations in the North Sea. She sank the Republican merchantman Cantabria off Cromer, Norfolk, on 2 November 1938.[8] The Republican steamers Josiña and Guernica were forced to seek shelter in Norwegian and Swedish waters, where the latter ran aground on 19 November at the island of Nidingen, in the Kattegat. Josiña reached Kristiansand, and she remained interned there until 1939.[9][10]
Ciudad de Alicante She supported the Ciudad de Valencia in the North Sea, where she played a secondary role in the capture of the Republican steamers Sil and Río Miera.[9] Both Ciudad de Alicante and Ciudad de Valencia used the German port of Emdem as a resupply base.[11]
Ciudad de Palma Converted to a warship in Italy in 1936. She assisted the minelayer
Júpiter in the capture of the British cargo ship Candlestone Castle in the Bay of Biscay
on 17 July 1937.
Ciudad de Mahón Captured by the rebels at Palma, she was armed and dispatched to Spanish Guinea, still under Republican control, on 14 October 1936. Once there, waving the Portuguese flag, Ciudad de Mahón entered the ports of Santa Isabel and Bata, where she sank the Republican freighter Fernando Poo.[12]
Vicente Puchol After an initial deployment as an improvised minelayer, she was later converted to an auxiliary cruiser. She seized the 1,743-ton steamer Pomaron on 21 February 1938. The ship was the property of Strubin & Co. of London, and was sailing under Estonian flag. The freighter was confiscated and placed under Spanish flag as Castillo Butrón.[13]
Antonio Lázaro After an initial deployment as an improvised minelayer, she was later converted to an auxiliary cruiser. The British liner Llandovery Castle was badly damaged when she struck a mine laid by Lázaro off Cap de Creus on 25 February 1937.[14]
Domine Active as auxiliary cruiser in the bay of Biscay from September to December 1936. Converted into a fast transport to carry allied moor pilgrims to Mecca in January 1937, she was later deployed in the Mediterranean as supply ship.[15]
Mallorca Used primarily as a military transport, she captured a number of merchants in the Strait of Gibraltar in 1937.[12]
Italian Barletta Renamed Rio during operations in the Spanish Civil War. She captured the Greek tanker Burlington (under UK flag) in the central Mediterranean in 1937. Attacked at Palma de Mallorca by Republican bombers on 26 May 1937. After carrying out four missions, she was disarmed and used as supply ship by Nationalist forces before being returned to Italy. She saw service also during WWII under Italian flag.
Italian Adriatico Renamed Lago during operations in the Spanish Civil War. After three unsuccessful missions, she was disarmed and used as supply ship by Nationalist forces before being returned to Italy. She saw service also during World War II under Italian flag. Sunk by light cruiser HMS Aurora off Cape Bon on 1 December 1941.

World War II

Allied merchant cruisers

The Armed merchant cruisers were made by requisitioning large ships and providing them with guns and other equipment. They ranged from 6,000–22,000 long tons (6,100–22,400 t). The armament varied but six 6 in (150 mm) guns with 3 in (76 mm) guns as secondary was usual. From 1941, many served as troopships.

Royal Australian Navy
Royal New Zealand Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Navy
Name Comment
Andania Lost 16 June 1940, sunk by UA.
Arawa Decommissioned 25 July 1941, converted to troopship, survived the War.
HMS Aurania
Canton Equipped with a
Vought Kingfisher
seaplane and a centerline twin 6-inch gun turret on the bow, converted to a troopship 1944 and survived the War
Carinthia Lost 6 June 1940, sunk by U-46 west of Ireland.
Carnarvon Castle
Comorin Lost on 6 April 1941. Her burnt out wreck was sunk by HMS Broke.
Dunnottar Castle
Dunvegan Castle Lost on 27 August 1940, sunk by U-46 west of Ireland.
Esperance Bay
Forfar sunk by U-99 on 2 December 1940.
Hector Was decommissioned when lost on 5 April 1942 during the Japanese Indian Ocean raid.
Jervis Bay Lost on 5 November 1940 in an engagement against the
Captain Fegen, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross
Kanimbla Transferred to the Royal Australian Navy as a
Landing Ship Infantry
in 1943
Laurentic Lost on 3 November 1940, sunk by U-99 west of Ireland.
Moreton Bay
Patroclus Lost on 4 November 1940, sunk by U-99 west of Ireland.
Pretoria Castle Converted into an escort carrier as HMS Pretoria Castle.
Queen of Bermuda
Rajputana Lost on 13 April 1941, sunk by U-108 west of Ireland.
Ranpura Launched in 1924, commissioned as AMC in December 1939
Rawalpindi Lost on 23 November 1939, sunk by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Her commander, Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, was posthumously
Mentioned in Dispatches
Salopian Lost on 13 May 1941, sunk by U-98, North Atlantic.
HMS Scotstoun Lost on 13 June 1940, sunk by U-25 northwest of Ireland.
Transylvania Lost on 10 August 1940, sunk by U-56 north-west of Malin Head.
Voltaire Lost on 4 April 1941, sunk by German auxiliary cruiser Thor.
Worcestershire Damaged by U-74 on 3 April 1941
French Navy (Marine Nationale)

French auxiliary cruisers were armed with 138 mm, 152 mm or 150 mm guns, 75 mm and 37 mm AA guns and 13.2 mm or 8 mm AA HMG

German auxiliary cruiser raiders

Kormoran in 1940, view from a German U-boat

At the outbreak of war, the Kriegsmarine requisitioned a number of fast merchantmen and immediately sent them into naval shipyards to be converted into offensive auxiliary cruisers. These ships had at the time of building been fitted with extra strong decks specifically to facilitate the installation of military equipment when required, but this was the only difference between them and other merchantmen of the period. No precise plans had been drawn up for the conversion of these ships into warships, and consequently the conversion process was painfully long. Compared to the diversity of British auxiliary cruisers, the Hilfskreuzer were standardized insofar as possible. The ships themselves averaged approximately 7,000 long tons (7,100 t). Armament usually consisted of six 6 in guns, two to six

torpedo boats. In addition to armament, increased fuel, water, and coal storage had to be provided for as well. Furthermore, the raiders could not abandon the crews of their captures, so space had to be provided for prisoners. The first Hilfskreuzer got under way in March 1940, shortly before the Norwegian campaign

Japanese armed merchant cruisers

Japan converted fourteen merchant ships to "armed merchant cruisers" but, by the end of 1943, five had been sunk and seven had been converted back to merchant ships.

Aikoku Maru in Singapore in 1942.

Italian armed merchant cruisers

Unlike the Germans and the Japanese, none of the armed merchant cruisers (or auxiliary cruisers) of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) were deployed to destroy or capture Allied merchant ships and were mostly used as supply ships or escorts. All of them mounted two 4.7 in (120 mm) guns.

Romanian armed merchant cruisers



Romanian Navy had one auxiliary cruiser, Dacia. She was built in France in 1907 as a passenger ship. She was 109 meters long, her beam was 13 meters and her draught was 8 meters, and displaced 4,105 tons. Her top speed was 18 knots (33 km/h). Initially she was an auxiliary minelayer, armed only with two 20 mm anti-aircraft guns and able to carry up to 200 mines. In 1942 she was also armed with three 105 mm naval/AA guns and designated as auxiliary cruiser (crucişător auxiliar).[16]



  1. ^ a b c d "Armed Merchant Cruisers - Royal Navy". 28 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  2. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "HMS Bayano: North Channel (102639)". Canmore. Retrieved 2023-06-29.
  3. ^ Hocking, Charles (1969). Dictionary of disasters at sea during the age of steam : including sailing ships and ships of war lost in action 1824–1962. Lloyd's Register of Shipping.
  4. .
  5. ^ a b Las Motonaves Mar Cantábrico y Mar Negro Archived 2009-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Royal Institute of British International affairs (1977).Survey of International affairs. Oxford University Press, p. 386.
  7. ^ Parliamentary debate, 20 March 1939
  8. .
  9. ^ .
  10. ^ González Etchegaray, p. 418
  11. .
  12. ^ a b "Los Cruceros Auxiliares en la Armada Nacional. 36-39, por Miguel Valverde Espín, Arena y Cal nº 49". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  13. ^ Sabatier de Lachadenède, René (1993). La marine française et la guerre civile d'Espagne: 1936-1939. Service historique de la marine, p. 509
  14. .
  15. ^ M/N Domine Archived 2015-11-21 at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish)
  16. ^ Koslinski, Nicolae; Stănescu, Raymond (1996). Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1941-1942. Făt-Frumos. p. 86.