Italian submarine fates

Ships hit by Italian submarines

Esso Copenhagen

CountryPanamanian Panamanian

Date of attack26 Feb 1942Time1630
FateSunk by submarine Luigi Torelli (C.C. Antonio De Giacomo)
Position of attack10° 32'N, 53° 20'W
Complement39 (1 dead and 38 survivors)
Notes At 1104 hours (dawn), two tankers were sighted.

At 1248 hours, Torelli carried out a submerged attack, firing two torpedoes (450mm) from the stern tubes at a distance of 800 metres, aimed at one of the two tankers sighted earlier. They missed. Because her batteries were low, Torelli could not attempt another submerged attack and waited until the following night. She appeared to be a large modern tanker similar to W.B. WALKER of 10,500 tons, armed with a single 120 mm gun and six machine-guns.

It was the Panamanian tanker Esso Copenhagen (9,245 GRT, built 1939) carrying fuel from Aruba to Buenos Aires.

At 0043 hours on 26th February, one torpedo (533mm, S.I. type) was fired from a bow tube at a distance of 1,500 metres. It missed. Torelli maneuvered to get into a better position.

At 0142 hours, another bow torpedo (533mm) was fired from 1,300 metres. It hit the tanker but she remained afloat. A minute later, the submarine opened fire with her four machine guns to force the quick evacuation of her victim.

At 0150 hours, Toreilli opened fire with her stern gun, causing further damage. Having sighted seven survivors clinging to a capsized lifeboat, the submarine located another lifeboat which was not manned and towed it to the survivors who then boarded it. De Giacomo then waited for the ship to sink.

By 1555 hours, the tanker was still afloat. A stern torpedo (450mm, type A 115) was fired from close range, which hit amidship, provoking a large fuel leak but the ship refused to sink.

At 1630 hours, the submarine finished off the ship with a few rounds from her stern gun and she finally sank at 1720 hours.

One was killed. Thirty-eight survivors were rescued by the American Eastern Guide and the Dutch Notis and landed at Trinidad.

Position of attack

Ships hit by Italian submarines