Ships hit by U-boats


Honduran Steam merchant

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage2,493 tons
Completed1921 - Newburgh Shipyards Inc, Newburgh NY 
OwnerUnited Fruit SS Co, New York 
HomeportPuerto Cortez 
Date of attack11 Mar 1943Nationality:      Honduran
FateSunk by U-183 (Heinrich Schäfer)
Position22° 08'N, 85° 14'W - Grid DL 6921
Complement46 (5 dead and 41 survivors).
RouteTela - Puerto Cortez - Tampa 
Cargo31,000 stems of bananas and deck cargo of mahogany logs 
History Completed in February 1921 for Cuyamel Fruit Co, New Orleans. In December 1929 transferred to United Fruit SS Co, New York. 
Notes on event

At 07.52 hours on 11 March 1943 the unescorted Olancho (Master Sigurd Pedersen) was hit by one torpedo from U-183 about 30 miles west of Cape San Antonio, Cuba. The torpedo struck on the starboard side amidships abaft #2 hatch, ripping open the hull and demolishing the wheelhouse and starboard engine wing. The engine room flooded immediately and the port engine could not be stopped thus the ship kept going at full speed in circles until the screw was clear of the water due to the settling by the bow.

At 08.11 hours, a coup de grâce hit the port side between #3 and #4 hatch, causing the ship to sink in 10 minutes. The 41 crew members and 5 armed guards abandoned ship after the second torpedo hit in one lifeboat, on one raft and by jumping overboard. Two men went under with the suction of the sinking ship after they jumped from the stern and one was hit by the turning screw and later died after being picked up by the raft. Seven more survivors clung to a hatch cover. The occupants of the lifeboat and the nine men on the raft were picked up at 12.55 hours by the Hondurian steam merchant Choluteca. The remaining seven survivors were picked up by USS Absecon (AVP 23) on 13 March and taken to Jacksonville. Green phosphorus flares dropped from aircraft were very helpful in assisting the ship to locate the survivors.

On boardWe have details of 14 people who were on board

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