Built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Arundel Castle (originally named
Amroth Castle) was laid down in 1915, but her launching did not occur
until September 1919 due to the requirements of other, war-related work.
Although there were periodic plans to put her into service as a troop
transport, the War ended less than two months after her launching, so
she was completed and fitted out as a passenger liner.
Due to the long delay between conception and completion, the ship's
design and propulsion were outdated by the time she entered service.
Nonetheless, Arundel Castle made her maiden voyage from Southampton to
Cape Town on 22 April 1921, becoming the largest ship to serve South
Because she was then too slow to meet the requirements of Union-Castle's
mail contract, Arundel Castle returned to Belfast to be substantially
rebuilt in 1937. Oil replaced coal, the turbine engines were modernized
to increase her speed by three knots, her hull was lengthened, the four
stacks were replaced by two large ones and third class accommodations
were eliminated in favor of tourist class. When she returned to service
in the fall of 1937, she was considered "the finest looking unit ever
owned by Union Castle."
In 1939 Arundel Castle was taken over as a troopship. Over the next ten
years, serving as a trooper and a post-war emigrant ship, she traveled
over 625,000 miles (1,000,000 km) in government service and carried over
200,000 troops. She also survived a 1940 incident where an unexploded
500 lb. (227 kg) bomb landed in the first class smoking room and a 1942
glider bomb attack in which she shot down a German JU-88. Late in the
war, she also took part in two prisoner exchanges which repatriated
almost 3,000 Allied prisoners of war.
After another overhaul, she returned to Union-Castle service in
September 1950. She left on her 211th and final Southampton-Cape Town
roundtrip on 6 November 1958, leaving Cape Town for the last time on 5
December. On 30 December she left Southampton for breaking up at Hong
Sources: Shaum and Flayhart's Majesty at Sea; Haws' Merchant Fleets.