The Mystery Ship is Royal Mail Lines’ steamer Alcantara, built in 1926 at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, drydocked at Alexandra, Egypt in November 1939 for major hull repairs after colliding with Cunard’s Franconia and conversion into an armed-merchant cruiser, as one of her six-inch guns can be seen on the fore deck. Her forward dummy funnel was removed at the same time and replaced with anti-aircraft guns. She returned to commercial service in 1948 and was used until 1958, when she went to breakers.A. Frost, Sunderland

I would suggest that the Mystery Ship in January is either Asturias or her sistership Alcantara, both typical Belfast motor ships of the late 1920s and the 1930s. However, I decided the ship was Alcantara because of the low position of the crow’s nest on the foremast, a feature which was much higher up on Asturias. Assuming this is correct, the ship was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast, yard number 586, and was completed in 1927 for the South American service of Royal Mail Lines.Martin W. Young


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