Ships hit by U-boats


Dutch Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Maritiem Museum, Rotterdam

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage2,078 tons
Completed1928 - AG Neptun Schiffswerft und Maschinenfabrik, Rostock 
OwnerNV Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot Mij (KNSM), Amsterdam 
Date of attack2 Jun 1942Nationality:      Dutch
FateSunk by U-558 (Günther Krech)
Position26° 00'N, 59° 34'W - Grid DP 1432
Complement36 (6 dead and 30 survivors).
RouteDemerara, British Guiana - Port of Spain, Trinidad (28 May) - New York 
Cargo3100 tons of bauxite and 60 tons of timber 
History Completed in May 1928 
Notes on event

At 02.55 hours on 2 June 1942 the unescorted Triton (Master Barteld van Dijk) was shelled by U-558 while steaming at about 10 knots on a non-evasive course about 470 miles southeast of Bermuda. The U-boat had spotted the ship about five hours earlier and waited with the attack until it was completely dark because a gun had been seen on the stern of the vessel. After illuminating the target with a flare, the U-boat opened fire with the deck gun from the starboard beam at a range of about 2000 yards, firing about 18 incendiary rounds at short intervals and scoring 8 to 10 hits that set the ship on fire. Triton immediately turned away and tried to escape westwards at full speed, opening fire with the 3in stern gun and sending distress signals. However, the radio transmissions were jammed by the German radio operator and the stern gun was disabled by a hit after firing just one round. As further resistance was futile, the engines were stopped and the master ordered the crew and one passenger to abandon ship after 20 minutes. Three crew members and one gunner were missing and had presumably been killed by the shelling and nine other crew members were injured, two of whom later died of wounds in the lifeboats. As one of the boats on port side had been destroyed the survivors left in the remaining three boats in clear weather with slight swells. The U-boat had ceased fire when the crew began to abandon ship and then fired 20 more rounds into the vessel at a range of less than 500 yards until Triton sank in flames, listing heavily to port and then plunging by the stern at about 04.00 hours.

U-558 then approached the lifeboats to question the survivors, who were asked about the name, ports of departure and destination, cargo and tonnage. At first the conversation was in English, but the Dutch master could speak German and he then asked for help for the wounded men of his crew. Krech politely refused to help because the master denied that Triton had fired on the U-boat when he was asked about it, not knowing that this had been the case. However, the Germans agreed to search the area for the missing men before leaving and provided the course and distance to Puerto Rico, advising the survivors to sail there instead of Bermuda as that course would give fair wind and warmer nights. The master, 28 crew members and the passenger were picked up after three days by the American steam merchant Mormacport in position 20°14N/62°24W and landed in New York on 9 June. The injured survivors were taken to the Marine Hospital on Staten Island.

On boardWe have details of 36 people who were on board

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