Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger / Cargo Ship
Greenock Yard
Slip Number
Launch Date
March 26, 1925
September 3, 1925
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co
16618 grt
BP Length
547-2 feet
71 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
17 knots
2xQ4cyl (33, 47, 67.5, 97 x 60in), 2478nhp, 15000ihp by H&W - Fitted at Belfast
Official No.

She was launched on 26th March 1925 by Lady Birkenhead, the wife of F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, and joined the P&O fleet in September of the same year.She could carry 307 First Class and 288 Second Class passengers, and was employed on the London to Bombay service.
Rawalpindi was requisitioned by the Admiralty on 26th August 1939 and converted in to an armed merchant cruiser by the addition of eight elderly 6 in (150 mm) guns and two 3 in (76 mm) guns. She was set to work from October 1939 in the Northern Patrol covering the area around Iceland.
While patrolling north of the Faroe Islands on 23rd November 1939, she investigated a possible enemy sighting, only to find that she had encountered two of the most powerful German warships, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which had been conducting a sweep between Iceland and the Faroes. Rawalpindi was able to signal the German ships' location back to base. Despite being hopelessly outgunned, 60-year old Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy RN of Rawalpindi decided to fight, rather than surrender as demanded by the Germans. He was heard to say "We'll fight them both, they'll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye".
The German warships sank Rawalpindi within 40 minutes. She managed to score one hit on Scharnhorst, which caused minor splinter damage. 238 men died, including Captain Kennedy. Thirty-seven men were rescued by the German ships, a further 11 were picked up by HMS Chitral (another converted passenger ship). Captain Kennedy — the father of broadcaster and author Ludovic Kennedy — was posthumously Mentioned in Dispatches.
Rawalpindi was one of the P&O 'R' class liners from 1925 that had had much of their interiors designed by Lord Inchcape's daughter Elsie Mackay. Her sister ships Ranchi, Ranpura and Rajputana were also converted into armed merchant cruisers.