Ships hit by U-boats


Latvian Steam merchant

Ciltvaira after being torpedoed

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage3,779 tons
Completed1905 - J.L. Thompson & Sons Ltd, North Sands, Sunderland 
OwnerLatvijas Kugniecibas Sabiedriba, Riga 
Date of attack19 Jan 1942Nationality:      Latvian
FateSunk by U-123 (Reinhard Hardegen)
Position35° 25'N, 75° 23'W - Grid CA 7938
Complement31 (2 dead and 29 survivors).
RouteCorner Brook - Norfolk - Savannah 
Cargo6200 tons of newsprint 
History Completed in March 1905 as British Endsleigh for Endsleigh SS Co Ltd (Bellamy & Co), Plymouth. 1907 sold to Belgium and renamed Président Bunge for Cie Royale Belgo-Argentine (Armement Deppe), Antwerp. 1924 sold to Britain and renamed Twyford for Britain SS Co Ltd (Watts, Watts & Co Ltd), London. 1932 sold to Estonia and renamed Vironia for N.C. Pihlakas, Tallinn. 1935 sold to Latvia and renamed Ciltvaira. When Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, she was one of eight ships that did not follow the orders to return home and continued to sail under the Latvian flag. U-boats sank five of these eight ships and damaged a sixth while another one was sunk by an Italian submarine. 
Notes on event

At 12.01 hours on 19 Jan 1942 the unescorted and unarmed Ciltvaira (Master Karlis Eduards Skerbergs) was hit on the port side by one torpedo from U-123 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 9 knots off Cape Hatteras. The U-boat did not wait for the ship to sink in order to return to the Malay which had been damaged by gunfire earlier that night. The torpedo struck aft of the funnel in the engine room, broke the back of the vessel and killed two firemen on watch below. The survivors abandoned ship in both port lifeboats when she settled by the head with a list to port after the boiler room and #2 hold were flooded. About 14.00 hours, the wreck was sighted by the northbound Coamo which avoided the area at full speed as she was in danger of being torpedoed herself, but the American steam tanker Socony-Vacuum stopped and picked up all survivors. Because the Ciltvaira had remained afloat, the master and eight volunteers returned to the ship while the tanker brought the rest of the crew to Charleston, South Carolina. At 16.00 hours, the Brazilian steam merchant Bury arrived and her master agreed to take the ship in tow for Norfolk. Four men from the Brazilian ship went aboard to help the few men with the ropes after the tow parted several times and they finally got underway. However, the following evening the salvage operation was stopped because the ships were only proceeding at 2 knots or less and all men taken off and eventually landed at New York. The abandoned ship was later taken in tow by the tug USS Sciota (AT 30) and proceeded under escort by USS Osprey (AM 56), but foundered and sank after one or two days in 35°58N/75°10W.

On boardWe have details of 31 people who were on board

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