Allied Warships

HNMS Colombia

Submarine Depot Ship

The Colombia at Herok, Iceland.

NavyThe Royal Dutch Navy
TypeSubmarine Depot Ship
Class[No specific class] 
Built byP. Smit (Rotterdam, Holland) 
Laid down 1929 
Launched 1930 
Commissioned18 Aug 1941 
Lost27 Feb 1943 
Loss position33° 36'S, 27° 29'E

Former passenger ship of the KNSM.
Requisitioned by the Royal Netherlands Navy on 8 November 1940.
Converted into a submarine depot ship at Dundee from 1 May to 18 August 1941.

HrMs Colombia (Kapitein Luitenant John Louis Karel Hoeke) was en route to Simonstown to dock, escorted by the British corvette HMS Genista and several RAF aircraft. At 1141 hours on 27 February 1943 the German submarine U-516 fired a spread of three torpedoes from a distance of 1500 metres on a ship near Simonstown, which was identified as a passenger-cargo ship of the Blue Star Line of 10.000 tons. Four minutes later, one torpedo struck the Colombia at #2 hold, just before the bridge and a large column of water arose beside the ship, while the deckplanks were thrown in all directions. All hands immediately abandoned ship, apparently without any casualties and the ship sank after ten minutes in position 33º36'S, 27º29'E. A headcount showed that eight men were missing. Almost 60 survivors in one whaleboat were picked up by a RAF air-sea-rescue launch. The corvette initially launched a counter-attack, but she returned soon and picked up the remaining survivors.

For more information on this ship see this website (offsite link).


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 27 Feb 1943 by U-516 (Wiebe).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HNMS Colombia

Commands listed for HNMS Colombia

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1kapitein-luitenant ter zee (Cdr.) Cornelis Hellingman, DSO, RNN1 May 194118 Aug 1941
2kapitein-luitenant ter zee (Cdr.) John Louis Karel Hoeke, RNN18 Aug 194127 Feb 1943

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Notable events involving Colombia include:

12 Jan 1942

Convoy WS 15.

This convoy assembled off Oversay on 12 January 1942.

On assembly the convoy was made up of the (troop) transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Autolycus (British, 7621 GRT, built 1922), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Dorset (British, 10624 GRT, built 1934), Elisabeth Bakke (Norwegian, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913), Laconia (British, 19695 GRT, built 1922), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Melbourne Star (British, 11076 GRT, built 1936), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Stratnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) and Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929).

The Dutch submarine tender HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN) was also part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Ascania (A/Capt. A.G. Davidson, RN), HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN), destroyers HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Demirhisar (?). [This was an 'I-class' destroyer, one of four ordered by the Turkish government before the start of the war. Two of these destroyers were taken over by the Royal Navy and two were delivered to Turkey. On passage to Turkey they were commissioned as HMS ships with a Royal Navy crew so they also served on escort duty during their passage to Turkey (via the Cape of Good Hope).]

On 15 January, HMS Vanoc and HMS Walker parted company with the convoy.

On 16 January, the Llangibby Castle was torpedoed and damaged by the German submarine U-402. The damaged ship managed to reach the Azores steering on her engines as her rudder had been blown off.

Around 0900N/17, the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.E.C. Tait, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined coming from Milford Haven. The destroyers ORP Garland (Kmdr.por. (Cdr.) K.F. Namiesniowski) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) had also been with the battleship but these had been detached to go to the assistance of the damaged Llangibby Castle. It had originally been intended that HMS Resolution would join the convoy on 15 January but this did not materialise due to the bad weather conditions.

Around 1400N/17, HMS Boreas and HMS Demirhisar were detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Around 1400N/18, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

Around 1830N/18, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

Around 1400O/19, HMS Boreas rejoined the convoy but the Demirhisar had sustained damage to her stern and had to make some repairs before she was able to proceed.

Around 1000O/20, HMAS Norman and later HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck rejoined the convoy.

Around 1500O/21, the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined. She had however one engine out of action and could only proceed at 22 knots.

After nightfall on the 21st, HMS Resolution was ordered to proceed ahead for an ocean rendezvous with the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917). Due to the bad weather conditions encountered, HMS Resolution had not enough fuel on board to reach Freetown without refuelling. She met the Rapidol and her escort, the corvette HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR), the following day but conditions were unfavourable to fuel and every attempt failed. Course was therefore set to the Cape Verde Islands.

The convoy meanwhile continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 25 January. On 22 January the convoy had been joined by the destroyer HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) and on 23 January HMS Demirhisar rejoined after her delay at the Azores. Shortly before the convoy arrived at Freetown, HMS Vimy was detached to join HMS Resolution (see below).

At 0830N/23, in the lee of Sal Island, another attempt was made just outside Portugese territorial waters. However wind and swell were still too great for oizling at sea and the ships therefore anchored in Murdeira Bay with the Rapidol proceeding alongside while the Jasmire and the Vansittart, which meanwhile had also joined to fuel, conducted an A/S patrol off the Bay.

Oiling was ceased at 1230N/23 so then it was Vansittart's turn. HMS Resolution then left the Bay and proceeded ahead to Freetown. HMS Vansittart was to overtake her.

At 0830N/25, the destroyer HMS Vimy joined HMS Resolution. Two hours later HMS Vansittart finally caught up with HMS Resolution. They arrived at Freetown early in the afternoon.


The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January 1942, in the same composition. The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Resolution, armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire destroyers HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Boreas, HMS Demirhisar and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN).

At dusk on 31 January, HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan, HMS Boreas parted company to return to Freetown.

It had been arranged that the RFA tanker Rapidol would be in position 14°30'S, 05°10'W at 0830Z/3, to fuel HMS Demirhisar and HMS Milford and if needed HMS Resolution.

At 1800Z/3, HMS Resolution parted company with the convoy to make a short call at St. Helena.

At 0610Z/4, HMS Resolution anchored off St. Helena. She departed around 1130Z/4 to rejoin the convoy which she did in the afternoon of 6 February.

The convoy split into two section and the Capetown section made up of the Dorset, Elizabeth Bakke, Laconia, Orontes, Pasteur and HrMs Colombia. They arrived at Capetown on 9 February escorted by HMS Resolution, HMS Cheshire and HMS Demirhisar. HMS Demirhisar then proceeded to Simonstown for repairs for the damage she had sustained at Ponta Delgada.

The other ships continued on to Durban escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) which had joined the convoy on 9 February coming from Capetown. HMS Milford also remained with the convoy until Durban the Durban section arrived there on 13 February 1942.


The Capetown section departed from there (less the Elizabeth Bakke) on 14 February 1942 escorted by HMS Cheshire.

They made rendezvous off Durban with the Durban section (less the Arawa and Letitia) on 17 February 1942. The Durban section was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H.W.V. Stephenson, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire and the destroyer HMAS Norman.

On 21 February, HMAS Norman fuelled from HMS Worcesterhire, while being alongside and proceeding at 10 knots !.

At 0800C/22, HMAS Norman was detached to the Seychelles.

At 1230C/22, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) joined and half an hour later the 'Batavia Section' of the convoy parted company in position 10°22'S, 42°00'E forming convoy DM 3 to proceed to Port T (Addu Atoll). The ships that parted company were the Aagtekerk, Autolycus, Christiaan Huygens, Empire Woodlark, Pardo, Port Chalmers, Staffordshire, Strathnaver and HrMs Colombia.

The remaining ships continued northwards escorted by HMS Ceres and HMS Worcestershire.

They were joined at 0700C/24, in position 02°44'S, 43°20'E, by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and the transport Khandalla (British, 7018 GRT, built 1923) coming from Mombasa. HMS Ceres then parted company to proceed to Mombasa.

At 0300C/26, the convoy split up into two sections. Convoy WS 15A set course for the Gulf of Aden escorted by HMS Colombo. It was made up of the Dorset, Laconia, Melbourne Star, Orontes, Otranto, Pasteur and Viceroy of India. It was dispersed off Aden on 1 March 1942 to proceed independently to Suez.

Convoy WS 15B set course for Bombay escorted by HMS Worcestershire. It was made up of the Britannic, Khandalla, Stirling Castle and Strathmore. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 4 March 1942. In the approaches to Bombay it was joined by the sloop Lawrence (T/Lt. C.F. Smith, RINR) and the auxiliary patrol vessel HMIS Dipavati (T/Lt. P. Munday, RINR). (1)

22 Feb 1942

Convoy DM 3.

This convoy was split off at sea from convoy WS 15 on 22 February 1942.

The convoy was made up of the (troop) transports;
Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Autolycus (British, 7621 GRT, built 1922), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931).

The submarine depot ship HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN) was also part of the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN).

Around 0700E/28, the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined.

Around 2359E/28, HMS Ramillies and HMAS Norman parted company to proceed to Addu Atoll to fuel.

HMS Ramillies and HMAS Norman arrived at Addu Atoll around 1145F/1 and departed again to rejoin the convoy around 1800F/1. Meanwhile at 1200F/1, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) had joined the convoy.

HMS Ramillies and HMAS Norman rejoined the convoy around 2330F/1.

On 2 March 1942, ordered were changed and the Autolycus, Pardo, Staffordshire and HrMs Colombia were ordered to proceed to Colombo escorted by HMS Ramillies and HMAS Norman.

Around 1030F/4, the convoy arrived at Colombo.

The other ships of the convoy proceeded to Bombay where they arrived on 6 March 1942 escorted by HMS Corfu. (2)

13 May 1942
HrMs O 19 (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bach Kolling, RNN(R)) departed Colombo for Bombay together with the Dutch submarine tender HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN) and the Dutch submarine HrMs O 23 (Lt.Cdr. A.M. Valkenburg, RNN). They were escorted by the British destroyer HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN). (3)

20 Jul 1942
HrMs O 19 (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bach Kolling, RNN(R)) departed Bombay for Colombo. She made the passage together with HrMs K XV (Lt.Cdr. Baron C.W.T. van Boetzelaer, RNN) and HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN). (3)

31 Jul 1942
HrMs O 19 (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bach Kolling, RNN(R)) departed Colombo for Kilindini. She made the passage together with the Dutch submarine tender HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN). (3)


  1. ADM 199/1211
  2. ADM 53/116489 + ADM 53/116490 + HMAS Norman for February 1942 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Norman for March 1942
  3. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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