ASTURIAS was built in 1907 for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. and
went into service on the Southampton - Buenos Aires run. When war
with Germany was declared in 1914 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty
and converted into a Hospital Ship. Within a few months she was
handed over to the Army and was soon employed making regular crossings
to France carrying back the wounded from the Western Front. She
had accommodation for 896 patients, but on one occasion due to very
heavy casualties at the Front, she transported 2,400 sick and wounded.
She served in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Dardanelles Campaign,
returning wounded from Gallipoli, Egypt and Salonika to the UK.
In March 1917 after landing her wounded at Avonmouth, she was attacked
by German submarine and struck by a torpedo which blew off her stern,
killing 35 of her crew. She was declared a total loss, but her hulk
was put to use as a floating ammunition store at Plymouth for the
rest of the war. Remarkably, her hulk was repurchased by Royal Mail
Line in 1920 and rebuilt as a Cruise Liner, renamed ARCADIAN she
operated Mediterranean and West Indies cruises until 1930, and was
finally scrapped in 1933.