Laconia was converted into an armed merchant cruiser in 1939, and then into a troopship in 1941. On September 12, 1942, she was torpedoed and sunk by U156, about 360 miles (575 km) north of Ascension. In all, out of 3,200 or more who were on board, less than 1000 survived.
As a result of the Laconia Incident, Doenitz ordered that no further rescues should be attempted by German U-boats. At Nuremberg, he was acquitted on a charge that the "Laconia order" was a war crime.