Ships hit by U-boats


Norwegian Motor merchant

Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-6090.2

Type:Motor merchant
Tonnage6,827 tons
Completed1933 - Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Mij NV, Amsterdam 
OwnerA/S Westfal-Larsen & Co, Bergen 
Date of attack27 Jun 1942Nationality:      Norwegian
FateSunk by U-404 (Otto von Bülow)
Position38° 03'N, 70° 52'W - Grid CA 9312
Complement44 (14 dead and 30 survivors).
RouteBuenos Aires (9 Jun) - New York 
Cargo8700 tons of general cargo, including salted hides, tallow, wool and vegetable oil 
History Completed in March 1933 
Notes on event

At 22.57 hours on 27 June 1942 the unescorted Moldanger (Master Frode Bjørn Hansen) was torpedoed by U-404 about 300 miles southeast of Philadelphia. The torpedo struck on the port side amidships in the engine room, killing two men and disabling the radio equipment, so no distress calls were sent. The ship sank following a coup de grâce at 23.02 hours, which hit on the port side aft, near #5 hatch. The explosion killed eleven men, who were lowering a lifeboat just over the point where the torpedo hit. The master, an engineer and the carpenter were the last that left the ship by jumping overboard and swimming to a raft. The U-boat then surfaced and questioned the survivors before leaving the area.

The survivors distributed themselves between a gig, a motor lifeboat and three rafts, because the other lifeboats were damaged and unusable. They all stayed together for three days, but towing the rafts in heavy seas slowed them down, so they let one raft go on the second day after the men and supplies had been transferred. It was decided to let the motorboat and the gig continue towards land to get the injured under medical care and later send help to the rafts. On 4 July, one injured man in the motorboat died and was buried at sea. The remaining 15 men (including the master and the chief engineer) were picked up by HMCS Buctouche (K 179) (SkrLt G.N. Downey, RCNR) on 7 July. The six survivors in the gig were sighted on 15 July by a USAAF aircraft about 100 miles southeast of Ambrose Light. Food and water were dropped by the US Navy blimp K-9, which then stayed nearby until they were picked up by USS PC-495 and landed at Cape May, New Jersey the same day. The nine survivors on the two rafts drifted around for 48 days before they were rescued by the Norwegian motor merchant Washington Express on 14 August, all in remarkably good shape, considering what they had endured. They had travelled over 1000 miles towards the Azores and caught underway three large turtles and many fish.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 44 people who were on board

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