HMS Curacoa

The Ship

Sunk in collision with SS QUEEN MARY 2 October 1942

HMS Curacoa, built by Pembroke Dock, launched 5/5/1917.R e constructed to an anti aircraft cruiser 1939. Sunk in collision with SS QUEEN MARY (WHITE STAR/CUNARD LINE), north of Ireland,2/10/1942.

HMS Curacoa sank off Donegal, with the loss of 338 lives, after a collision with the Cunard liner Queen Mary, which was carrying thousands of troops and zig-zagging to avoid U-boats. The Clyde-built liner sliced her escort Caracoa in half and she sank within three minutes. Only 26 crew members survived. The liner had been instructed not to stop to pick up survivors because of the danger from U-boats.

An official enquiry into this disaster had to wait until after Victory Europe Day in 1945. The Commissioners of the Admiralty sued Cunard White Star Line, alleging that Queen Mary was responsible for the accident. But, in court, the Judge held the Cruiser responsible, saying that: "Although the rules of the road at sea indicate that the overtaking vessel is to keep clear of the other, in this case, it did not apply". He judged that the Cruiser could have avoided the collision, even up to seconds before the impact.

The Admiralty appealed this judgement, and this time, blame was shared 1/3 to Queen Mary, 2/3 to Curacoa, once again the Admiralty were not happy, and the case went before the House of Lords, where the Appeal Court's decision was upheld.

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