Ships hit by U-boats

California Star

British Motor merchant

Photo courtesy of Allan C. Green Collection

NameCalifornia Star
Type:Motor merchant
Tonnage8,300 tons
Completed1938 - Burmeister & Wain´s Maskin & Skibsbyggeri A/S, Copenhagen 
OwnerBlue Star Line Ltd, London 
Date of attack4 Mar 1943Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-515 (Werner Henke)
Position42° 32'N, 37° 20'W - Grid CD 3245
Complement74 (50 dead and 24 survivors).
RouteWellington - Cristobal, Panama - Liverpool 
Cargo6434 tons of general and refrigerated cargo 
History Completed in December 1938 
Notes on event

At 23.15 hours on 4 March 1943 the unescorted California Star (Master Sydney Foulkes) was hit on the starboard side in #3 hold and the engine room by two torpedoes from U-515 about 335 miles northwest of Flores, Azores. All lights went out and the ship stopped. Because both starboard lifeboats were destroyed the crew began to abandon ship on the port side, but when the second port boat was being launched a coup de grâce hit on the port side at 23.34 hours and the explosion destroyed the boat and killed all occupants. The remaining crew members had to abandon ship on rafts. The vessel sank by the bow a few minutes after being hit on the port side by a second coup de grâce at 23.52 hours. The U-boat surfaced to question the survivors and took the Second Officer George Cameron Smart as prisoner aboard.

At daybreak the survivors decided that the master should sail the only lifeboat to the nearest land to get help for the survivors left behind drifting on rafts. One boy died and was buried at sea before the boat with the master 19 crew members and three passengers reached Flores after 11 days. A subsequent search for the rafts was unsuccessful, they were never seen again. 41 crew members, eight gunners and one passenger were lost.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 55 people who were on board

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