Kroonland served as a troopship for about the next year.[Note 6] In early March, U.S. Navy ordnance officers inspected Kroonland and took measurements in preparation to arm her for defense against submarine attacks. On 13 March, she was assigned guns by the Navy, becoming one of the first seven ships to be armed. With her arming complete, and carrying an armed naval guard to man the guns, Kroonland sailed for Liverpool on 25 March 1917. Twelve days later, the United States formally declared war on Germany.
A 4-inch (102 mm) gun on Kroonland, one of the first seven defensively armed American merchant ships
On the morning of 20 May, while the liner steamed toward Liverpool through a heavy fog, a torpedo struck her without exploding. Two minutes later her lookouts spotted a submarine bearing down on Kroonland so close alongside the liner that her guns could not be depressed enough to open fire on the raider. Although the U-boat, apparently also taken by surprise, reversed her screws and tried to turn to avoid a collision, she lightly struck the liner's hull and scraped along her side before diving out of sight. Meanwhile two more torpedoes came within some 20 feet (6 m) of hitting Kroonland's stern. That afternoon the liner sighted another submarine, surfaced some 1,000 yards (910 m) off her port quarter. Kroonland immediately began shelling the U-boat, forcing the submarine to dive for safety. In early June, this failed torpedo attack on the ship made front page news in American newspapers.
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