Ships hit by U-boats


Soviet Steam tug

Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Kramer

Type:Steam tug
Tonnage220 tons
Completed1866 - Christiania, Norway 
OwnerMMF Naryan-Marskiy Morskoye Torgovyy Port 
Date of attack17 Aug 1942Nationality:      Soviet
FateA total loss by U-209 (Heinrich Brodda)
Position69° 30'N, 58° 32'E - Grid AT 8761
Complement16 (11 dead and 5 survivors).
RouteKhabarovo (16 Aug) - Narjan-Mar 
History Completed as Norwegian tug Sarpen. 1880 sold to Russia and registered at Arkhangelsk for G.N. Schmidt. 1922 taken over by the Soviet Union and renamed Komsomolets for Severnoye Morskoye Parochodstvo Arkhangelsk. 1939 transferred to MMF Naryan-Marskiy Morskoye Torgovyy Port. 
Notes on event

Between 05.26 and 09.20 hours on 17 August 1942 U-209 attacked a Soviet tug convoy near the Matveev Island in the Pechora Sea. The vessels belonged to the administration of NKVD camps and sailed unescorted and without knowledge to the naval authorities that had stopped all traffic due to the known U-boat activity in this area.

The convoy consisted of the tug Komsomolets towing the barge P-4, which carried workers (some of them probably political prisoners) and their equipment for the port Narjan-Mar at the Pechora River, followed in a distance of about 3 miles by the tug Nord towing the barge Sh-500 and the small disabled tug Komiles. The U-boat began to shell the leading vessels with all weapons at 05.26 hours, first setting the barge on fire and then chasing the tug that had cut the tow line in an attempt to escape. Komsomolets was eventually hit by the shelling that began from a distance of 5500 meters and was left behind as a wreck in sinking condition and in flames. U-209 then returned to the burning barge and tried to scuttled it with a torpedo, but missed with both torpedoes fired at 07.10 and 07.15 hours. After that Brodda decided to chase the remaining vessels of convoy first and found the Komiles and Sh-500 anchored about 800 meters from the western side of Matveev Island, where Nord had left them before escaping by following the coast through shallow waters. The abandoned tug was sunk by gunfire at 08.00 hours, but a torpedo fired at the barge five minutes later missed, so the U-boat opened fire with the deck gun until its cargo of coal caught fire and soon left to sink the other barge at 08.15 hours. Because no ammunition for the deck gun was left, the P-4 was sunk by a torpedo as coup de grĂ¢ce at 09.20 hours.

Only 23 of the 328 people aboard the four vessels sunk survived, most were rescued from Matveev Island by the Nord that returned later together with the Soviet minesweepers T-879 (No 54) and T-908 (No 62) which had been sent to their assistance from the Yugor Strait after receiving a distress signal from Komsomolets. The only two survivors from P-4 were found in a small boat. They reported that many people were killed in the water by machine gun fire, but regarding the small chance of surviving in the ice cold water it is not very likely that this was done intentionally.

The wreck of Komsomolets drifted ashore on Matveev Island and sank in shallow waters. It was salvaged in November 1944, later repaired and returned to service at Naryan-Mar until 1947.

On boardWe have details of 16 people who were on board

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