British Steam merchant
|Completed||1931 - Deschimag Werk Weser, Bremen|
|Owner||Elder Dempster Lines Ltd, Liverpool|
|Date of attack||27 Jun 1941||Nationality: British|
|Fate||Sunk by U-69 (Jost Metzler)|
|Position||23° 50'N, 21° 10'W - Grid DT 3898|
|Complement||109 (2 dead and 107 survivors).|
|Route||Port Louis, Mauritius - Freetown (18 Jun) - Liverpool|
|Cargo||7725 tons of sugar, 238 tons of rum, 400 tons of kernels and 35 tons of fibre|
|History||Completed in March 1931 as Uhenfels for DDG Hansa, Bremen. On 13 Oct 1939, left Lourenço Marques disguised as the Dutch motor merchant Aagtekerk in her third attempt to return to Germany. On 5 November spotted by two aircraft of HMS Ark Royal (91) (Capt A.J. Power, CVO, RN) in Force K about 300 miles west-southwest of Freetown and captured by HMS Hereward (H 93) (LtCdr C.W. Greening, RN). The crew tried to scuttle her ship, but a boarding party from the destroyer prevented the sinking and brought her to Freetown on 6 November. In April 1940 renamed Empire Ability by Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 23 Oct 1940, bombed and damaged by German aircraft in Gare Loch, Scotland.|
At 01.45 hours on 27 Feb 1941, the Italian submarine Bianchi (Giovannini) attacked the convoy OB-290 in 54°N/14°W and claimed a probable hit on the Empire Ability but this is not possible because the ship was not part of this convoy.
|Notes on event|
At 01.19 hours on 27 June 1941, U-69 fired a spread of two torpedoes at two overlapping steamers in convoy SL-78 about 200 miles southeast of the Azores and heard one detonation, but no hit can be confirmed from Allied sources. At 01.49 hours, another torpedo was fired that hit the River Lugar amidships, which broke in two and sank within seconds. In a third attack at 02.37 hours, the Empire Ability was hit by a torpedo, caught fire and sank after 21 minutes.
The master, 60 crew members, two gunners, 17 military personnel and 27 passengers from the Empire Ability (Master Herbert Flowerdew) were picked up by the Amerika, transferred to HMS Burdock (K 126) (Lt H.J. Fellowes, SANVR) and landed at Milford Haven.
|On board||We have details of 2 people who were on board.|
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