Ships hit by U-boats

El Lago

Panamanian Steam merchant

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NameEl Lago
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage4,221 tons
Completed1920 - Downey Shipbuilding Corp, Arlington NY 
OwnerUS Lines Inc, New York 
Date of attack11 Oct 1942Nationality:      Panamanian
FateSunk by U-615 (Ralph Kapitzky)
Position51° 03'N, 46° 15'W - Grid AJ 8898
Complement59 (57 dead and 2 survivors).
ConvoyONS-136 (straggler)
RouteReykjavik (5 Oct) - New York 
History Completed as El Lago for Southern Pacific Co Inc, New York. On 26 Jun 1941, purchased by the US Government and turned over to US Lines Inc under a GAA agreement at Baltimore. At this time the ship was placed under Panamanian flag. 
Notes on event

On 5 Oct 1942, El Lago (Master Finn Abrahamson) left Reykjavik in a small convoy of 12 ships in two columns as third ship in the port column with a complement of 39 crew members, 14 armed guards and six merchant seamen being repatriated as passengers. These ships later joined convoy ONS-136. The convoy ran into a storm with hurricane force winds, tremendous heavy seas, rain and poor visibility about 250 miles south of Iceland. The El Lago was forced to slow down and lost convoy. At noon on 11 October observations fixed the position of the ship at 442 miles east-northeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland at a speed of 13 knots.

Some hours later, U-615 sighted the ship and fired at 19.59 hours a spread of two torpedoes, both struck the El Lago and broke her in two. The after sections sank immediately and the forward section followed a few minutes later. None of the lifeboats could be launched and the few survivors climbed on rafts, which had floated free. 30 minutes later, U-607 (Mengersen), which had observed the attack surfaced near the ship and U-615 joined her, but soon Mengersen left and the remaining U-boat approached the survivors, asking for the name of the ship and for the master. The Norwegian master and the Dutch first engineer Baas were ordered aboard the U-boat and were taken prisoner. The other survivors on the rafts were never seen again. The crew was made up of seven Norwegians, eight Chinese, five Canadians, five Belgians, three Dutch, two Swedes, two Scots, one Danish, one Irish, one Estonian, one Portuguese, one Pole, one American and one from Latvia. On 3 November, the body of one armed guard was picked up at sea by the USCG weather ship USS Manhasset (WAG 276) (LtCdr P.L. Stinson, USCG) in position 51°10N/40°50W.

Finn Abrahamson was taken to the prison at La Rochelle and was later transferred to the POW camp Marlag near Bremen. On 30 Jul 1945, he was repatriated from Oslo on the American Liberty ship M.E. Comerford to New York, arriving on 16 August. The engineer was taken to a hospital in Bordeaux suffering from severe burns, where he remained until 20 Dec 1942 and was then also brought to Marlag. He was repatriated from Rotterdam on 29 Aug 1945 aboard the steam merchant Morgantown Victory arriving in New York on 7 September.

On boardWe have details of 30 people who were on board

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