SS Arvonian was a British Cargo ship built in 1905, with a long and complex history under several names. She served in the British merchant marine, and was commissioned in the United States and British navies during World War I, before returning to merchant service, and eventually being sold to Latvia. In World War II she was taken over by the Soviet Union, then captured by Nazi Germany. Post-war she sailed under the Latvian and Costa Rican flags, until finally scrapped in West Germany in 1958.
The ship was built by the Richardson, Duck & Co. shipyard in Stockton-on-Tees, England, and launched on 1 August 1905 as Rosedale. A month later, on 1 September 1905 she was sold to the Golden Cross Line of, and renamed Arvonian.
In August 1917 the Arvonian was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and converted into Q-ship, designed to decoy U-boats into attacking before revealing her concealed weaponry. She was armed with three 4-inch guns, three 12-pounder guns, two .30-calibre machine guns and four 18-inch torpedo tubes.
On 27 November 1917 she was handed over to the United States Navy by the Admiralty "for war purposes", and commissioned as USS Arvonian the same day, with Commander David C. Hanrahan in command. The ship was fitted out at HMNB Devonport and conducted ship"s drills in Plymouth Sound with a crew composed of volunteers from American warships in European waters. On 18 December she was renamed USS Santee, and arrived at Cobh in southern Ireland the next day.
At 16:00 on 27 December, Santee sailed from Queenstown bound for Bantry Bay to carry out exercises. At 20:45 she was south of Kinsale, when she was struck on the port side by a torpedo fired by , under the command of Kapitänleutnant Victor Dieckmann.
On 27 July 1941 she was captured by the Germans at Liepaja, and re-named Rudau. On 9 October 1944 she was part of a convoy attacked by Bristol Beaufighter from No. 404 Squadron RCAF She was eventually sold to the German shipbreaking company Walter Ritscher GmbH, and scrapped at Hamburg in 1958.
*Category:World War II merchant ships of Germany