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HMHS Araguaya in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMHS Araguaya

1st August 1914 Hospital ship  

HS Araguaya

SS Araguaya (b 1906) was later renamed ss Kraljica Marija (1930) when sold to Jugoslavenski Lloyd a.d., Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

The British liner Araguaya was built in 1906 for Royal Mail’s service to South America. Her Yugoslav buyers of 1930, Jugoslavenski Lloyd, were engaged in the same South American trade with cargo ships. Renamed Kraljica Marija, this was Jugoslavenski’s first passenger ship. In 1935 also the Ebro, renamed Princeza Olga, was bought from England. With these ships Jugoslavenski entered the Mediterranean cruise market. When war spread over Europe, the party was over and they were sold. However, there are strong indications that by selling them their owners mainly wanted to prevent them from coming to enemy hands if Germany and Italy would invade Yugoslavia. The Kraljica Marija was sold to France, the Princeza Olga to Portugal, which was neutral. Passenger capacity was 300 1st, 100 2nd and 800 3rd class, but after refit in 1926 365 1st class, then in Yugoslav service 400 1st class.

Araguaya (1906-1930)

GBR Building of a series of large passenger ships at Harland & Wolff, Belfast marked the rebirth of Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., which was on the brink of collapse in 1903. The palatial outfitting of the 9588 grt Aragon of 1905 prompted her owners to order four more liners. They were built in rapid succession, each ship being an individual reworking of the Aragon design: the 10,036 grt Amazon (1906), the 10,537 grt Araguaya (1906), the 11,073 grt Avon (1907), and the 12,002 grt Asturias (1908). Of this series the Araguaya in fact was built at another Belfast yard, Workman, Clark & Co.

5 June 1906 launch of the Araguaya by the Countess of Aberdeen. September 1906 delivered to Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. 12 October 1906 maiden voyage Southampton - Brazil - Montevideo - Buenos Aires.

1917 requisitioned and adapted as a military hospital ship to serve with the Canadian forces. Until 1920 15,000 wounded were carried.

  • Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport Service during WW1.
  • Medical Staff strength.
  • Officers:11
  • Nurses:
  • Other:100
  • Accommodation capacity.
  • Officers:63
  • Cots:287
  • Berths:490
  • Period of Service as Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport.
  • Date From:2nd May 1917
  • Date To:8th November 1919
  • Ships Crew details:

October 1920 after a refit resumed Southampton - South America service. Also placed from time to time on the Hamburg - New York service, which Royal Mail Steam Packet started in 1920, when Germany no longer had transatlantic passenger ships of its own. The service did not meet expectations and was discontinued in 1926.

1926 refitted as a cruise ship with accommodation for 365 first-class passengers. Advertised together with the 1899-built Arcadian, ex-Ortona for cruises to the Norwegian fjords.

The story of the Araguaya ends like it began, with the Royal Mail group on the verge of bankruptcy in 1929. Grown at a reckless speed by costly takeovers to become the largest shipping and shipbuilding group in the world, with a fleet totalling 2,761,969 grt, it was unknown to even its bankers that it was unable to repay an accumulated debt of £30 million and this was before the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression.

Kraljica Marija (1930-1940)

SHS1930 was bought by Jugoslavenski Lloyd a.d., Zagreb, Kingdom Yugoslavia, ‘taking advantage of the favourable conjuncture’. Renamed Kraljica Marija, port of registry was Dubrovnik.

John Doran

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Those known to have served in

HMHS Araguaya

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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