Ships hit by U-boats


Norwegian Motor tanker

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage6,672 tons
Completed1928 - Kockums Mekaniska Verksteds A/B, Malmö 
OwnerHalfdan Ditlev-Simonsen & Co, Oslo 
Date of attack13 Sep 1942Nationality:      Norwegian
FateA total loss by U-558 (Günther Krech)
Position12° 15'N, 62° 52'W - Grid ED 8296
Complement34 (0 dead and 34 survivors).
RouteDurban - Port of Spain, Trinidad (12 Sep) - New Orleans 
History Completed in January 1928 
Notes on event

At 08.28 hours on 13 Sep 1942, U-558 fired two torpedoes at Vilja (Master Karl Andersen) in convoy TAG-5 and hit her with one torpedo on the port bow in the deep tank, blowing debris high into the air. The master, 29 crew members and four gunners abandoned ship in the lifeboats, but stayed near the tanker and because nothing more happened, they reboarded her after 4 hours. An inspection revealed that several cargo holds and the pump room were half flooded and the sea could be seen through the bottom of #5 tank. Nevertheless, the crew decided to take the ship back to Port of Spain and soon thereafter picked up the survivors from Empire Lugard, which had been sunk earlier from the same convoy by the same U-boat. En route they were first escorted by an aircraft and then by a single escort until they reached port on 15 September.
On 28 December, after temporary repairs were completed, the Vilja sailed at 5 knots from Port of Spain to New Orleans via Guantanamo Bay in a small convoy of six vessels, but the vessel broke down just before arriving at New Orleans and had to be towed to port by a tug on 16 Jan 1943. She was declared a total loss, condemned on 26 October and eventually broken up at Baltimore in July 1944.

The Vilja had been badly damaged in a fire in the harbour of Haifa that was caused when the French tanker Phenix blew up in December 1941. Temporary repairs were made in Haifa and in Port Said in February 1942, then the tanker was towed through the Suez Canal in May 1942 and arrived in Aden to load a cargo of oil. The ship continued at 7 knots to Durban where the cargo was unloaded and she was then sent to the USA for permanent repairs.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 8 people who were on board

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