The SS Ranpura was a British passenger and cargo carrying ocean liner built by R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company at Newcastle upon Tyne for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company in 1924. She was the first of the P&O 'R' class liners that had much of their interiors designed by Lord Inchcape's daughter Elsie Mackay. She was launched 13 September 1924 and sponsored by C.C. Straker, wife of the chairman of Hawthorn Leslie and Company. In 1936, she was assigned to transport $50 million (1936 prices) worth of Chinese artwork from London to Shanghai. The art had been on display in England as part of the largest exhibit of Chinese art to appear in England to that point. On 14 April, she encountered a storm off Gibraltar and ran aground in the Punta Mala after dragging anchor. She was refloated without damage on 16 April and resumed her trip to China. She was requisitioned into the Royal Navy on the onset of World War II and finished conversion 30 November 1939 as the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranpura. The installation of eight six-inch guns gave her the firepower of a light cruiser without the armoured protection.
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