Saturday, October 4, 2008

ms Armenia, 1941

ms Armenia
Only eight passengers of the sanitary boat survived the attack of Nazi aviation in 1941

The Soviet hospital ship Armenia was sunk November 7, 1941 by German torpedo-carrying He 111 planes while the ship was evacuating refugees and wounded military and staff from several of Crimea’s hospitals. It is estimated that approximately 7,000 people died in the sinking, 2,000 of which were believed to be unregistered passengers on board the ship.There were only eight survivors, who were picked up by an escort vessel.

Ukrainian scientists have recently discovered new details connected with the sanitary boat Armenia, which sank in November of 1941 in the Black Sea and became the largest shipwreck during WWII.

A German torpedo-bomber plane attacked the Armenia on November 7th, 1941. The ship sank in only four minutes, killing about 7,000 not 5,000 passengers as it was believed before. The passengers were mainly wounded servicemen, Ukrainian archaeologist Sergei Voronov said. “There were about 2,000 unregistered passengers on board the ship. Most likely, they boarded the boat at doctors' request,” the scientist said. “Only eight people survived the shipwreck – a rescue boat, which escorted the Armenia, saved those people,” Voronov added.

The sunken boat is resting at the depth of 472 meters. Researchers are going to organize a special underwater mission to the boat at the end of May. It is noteworthy that it was very hard to locate the underwater location of the sunken ship-hospital. Armenia's radio operator and the pilot of the German plane transmitted different position data about the site of the sea, where the boat sank.

A German bomber plane attacked the boat with torpedoes at the distance of 25 miles off the Crimean Peninsula. The Armenia was a double-decker passenger and cargo ship.

Anastacia Popova was one of the few passengers, who were lucky to survive the terrible shipwreck. “It was really hard for me to evacuate from the city of Yalta. The Armenia was packed with wounded patients and refugees. When the German aviation attacked the boat and it started sinking, it was more than just a hellish experience. People were rushing about the deck, trying to save their lives. I jumped overboard and swam towards the shore. I was very weak and hardly had any energy. I do not even remember how I found myself on the seashore,” Anastacia recollects.

Another person witnessed the tragedy from the shore: “Hardly had the boat reached the open sea, when a group of German planes attacked it. It goes without saying that Nazi pilots could see big red crosses on the ship. Nevertheless, they started bombing the vessel. We could hear both bomb explosions and people's screaming,” the eyewitness said.

It is noteworthy that the ship was marked with red crosses not only on its sides, but on the deck too. The German pilots ignored the signs. The bombs split the ship into two and it went straight to the bottom of the sea.

Local war veterans lay wreaths on the water surface around the area of the terrible shipwreck every year on May 9th, to honor 7,000 people, who died in the tragedy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maritime Disasters by death toll

Maritime Disasters by toll
This section lists peacetime shipping disasters only.

1,565–4,500 - MV Doña Paz (Philippines, 1987)
2,750–3,920 - SS Kiangya (off Shanghai, 1948)
1,863 - MV Joola (Senegal, 2002)
1,547 - Sultana (Mississippi River, 1865)
1,517 - RMS Titanic (North Atlantic, 1912)
1,155 - Toya Maru (Tsugaru Strait, 1954)
1,021 - SS General Slocum (New York, 1904)
1,018 - MV al-Salam Boccaccio 98 (Red Sea, 2006)
1,012 - RMS Empress of Ireland, (Saint Lawrence River, 1914)
c.1,000 - SS Hong Moh (South China Sea, 1921)
894 - MV Bukova (Lake Victoria, Tanzania, 1996)
852 - MS Estonia (Baltic Sea, 1994)
835 - SS Eastland (Chicago, 1915)
800 - MV Princess of Stars capsized by Typhoon Fengshen off Sibuyan Island, Philippines, June 21, 2008.
737 - SS Camorta (Irrawaddy Delta, 1902)
c.640 - SS Princess Alice and SS Bywell Castle (River Thames, 1878)
627 - SS Norge (Rockall, 1904)
625 - SS Ramdas (Bombay, 1947)
608 - Novorossiysk (Sevastopol, 1955)
600 - Shamia (Meghna River, southern Barisa, Bangladesh, May 1986)
587 - Ertuğrul (off Kushimoto, Japan, 1890)
580 - Indonesian passenger ship Tamponas 2 (caught fire and sank in Java Sea, January 1981)
558 - SS Principe de Asturias (off Brazil, 1916)
550 - Cahaya Bahari (off Sulawesi, Indonesia, 2000)
546 - RMS Atlantic (Nova Scotia, 1873)
528 - MV Nazreen 1 (Chandpur, Bangladesh, July 2003)
500 - Atlas Star (Dhaleswar River, Munshiganj, Bangladesh, 1986)
497 - Ebisu Maru (off Tokushima, Japan, 1946)
464 - Salem Express (off Safaga, Egypt, 1991)
461 - MV Senopati Nusantara (off Mandalika Island, Indonesia, 2006)
438 - Baccha Singh (Manihari Ghat, Bihar, River Ganges, 6 August 1988)
423 - Admiral Nakhimov (Black Sea, 1986)
400 - Reina Regenta (off Gibraltar, March 11, 1895)
400 - SS Lady Elgin (Chicago, 1860)
400 - Cataraqui (King Island, Australia, 1865)
397 - Toyo Maru 10 (near Kurushima, Japan, 1945)
392 - SS Himera (off Athens, Greece, January 19, 1947)
361 - KM Bismas Raya 2 (off Merauke, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, October 1999)
358 - HMS Victoria (near Tripoli, Lebanon, 1893)
357 - 10th of Ramadan (Lake Nasser, Egypt, 1983)
353 - SIEV-X (off Indonesia, 2001)
340 - MV Shalahuddin 2 (Meghna River, Bangladesh, 2002)
338 - Gurita (off Sabang, Aceh, Indonesia, January 1996)
325 - Harta Limba (off Kalimantan, Indonesia, 1999)
314 - Principessa Matalda (off Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil, October 25, 1927)
308 - Namyong-Ho (Korean Strait, 1970)
304 - Japanese passenger boat Sekirei Maru capsized with crush by windy condition off northwestern Awaji Island, Japan, December 9, 1945.
300 - Brazilian river boat Sobral Santos capsized Amazon River, Óbidos, Brazil, September 20, 1981
300 - Turkish ferry Üsküdar capsized and sank at Bay of İzmit, Kocaeli, Turkey, March 1, 1958
297 - RMS Tayleur, (Lambay, Ireland, 1854)
292 - A Seohae, South Korean ferry, West Sea, overloaded with 362 people, capsized off Puan county October 10, 1993[6]
288 - SS Heraklion (Souda, Crete, Greece, 1966)
280 - Chinese ferry Dashun caught fire and capsized in rough seas off Yellow Sea, Yantai, Shandong, China, November 24, 1999
280 - Nigerian passenger boat capsized at Ibaka, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, April 1998
280 - Myanmarese passenger ferry U Hla Myist sank by collided with Japanese vassel Bombei Maru at Yangon Bay, Myanmar, February 1973
279 - Filipino floating pagoda capsized in Bocaue river, northern Manila, Philippines, July 2, 1993
272 - Kenyan ferry MV Mtongwe sank at Mtongwe, Mombasa, Kenya, 1994
260 - USS Maine (Havana, Cuba, 1898) it is disputed whether this was accidental or an act of terrorism
260 - Earl of Abergavenny (off Portland Bill, 1805)
260 - Nuestra Señora de Atocha (Florida Keys, 1622)
259 - Portuguese passenger ship Save ran aground off Mozambique, July 8, 1961
254 - Vietnamese refugee boat capsized off Kuala Terenggana, Malaysia, November 22, 1978
250+ - Great Lakes Storm of 1913 (Great Lakes Basin, 1913)
250 - Filipino ferry Dona Marylin capsized by Typhoon Ruby off Maripipi Island, Philippines, October, 1988
250 - Bangladeshi ferry MV Dinar gone down in strong whirlpool at Meghna River, Chandpul, Bangladesh, August 20, 1994
249 - Chang Tyong-Ho (Busan, South Korea, 1953)
230 - Brazilian double-decker boat Novo Amapo capsized Belém de Cajari, Macapa, Amazon River, Brazil, 1981
230 - Bangladeshi ferry Rushi capsized by stormy condition at Padma River, Bangladesh, April 1980
224 - Neva sunk off (King Island, Tasmania Australia) May 13, 1835
226 - Ville du Havre (North Atlantic, 1873)
220 - Nigerian passenger boat capsized by stormy sea off Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, January 24, 1996
215 - Myanmarese double-decker ferry sank during storm at Gyaing River, 1990
210 - Illegal African immigrants boat sank off Sfax, Tunisia, 2003
211 - SS Waratah, disappeared without trace off Durban, South Africa, July, 1909
209 - Seven Japanese fishing boat sank by Super typhoon Carmen (off Agrihan, 1965)
206 - Egyptian ferry boat Adel capsized at Upper Nile, Maghagha, Governorate, Egypt, May, 1963
205 - HMS Iolaire (off Stornoway, 1919)
200 - SS Victoria (London, Ontario, 1881)
200 - Indonesian passenger ferry KMP Digul capsized in rough sea off Merakuke, Papua, Indonesia, July 2005.
200 - Bangladeshi passenger ferry Haisal rammed by collide with cargo vessel at Dhaleswari river, Bangladesh, December, 1988.
193 - Herald of Free Enterprise (English Channel, 1987)
192 - Two illegal immigrants boats sank off Gulf of Aden, Yemen, 2007
189 - MV Maharaj (Buriganga River, Bangladesh, 2005)
189 - HMS Orpheus, (Auckland, 1863)
185 - Batavia (off Australia, 1629) includes both drowned and murdered
182 - Congo ferry Dieu Merci capsized at Mai-Ndombe Lake, Bandunu, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 27, 2003.
180 - Somali refugee boat capsized off Gulf of Aden, Yemen, March 31 1998
177 - Russian cruise ship Alexander Suvorov crashed into a railroad bridge at Volga River, Ulyanovsk, southwestern Russia, June 5, 1983.
171 - Chinese sightseeing boat sank at Songhua River, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, August 1985
170 - Staffordshire (Cape Sable, 1853)
168 - Shiun Maru (Takamatsu, Japan, 1955)
167 - Japanese ferry Nankai Maru capsized off southern Awaji Island, Japan, January 26, 1958
167 - Dona Cassandra sank by typhoon Orchid (off Mindanao, 1983)
165 - Tamil refugees boat capsized off Nanchchikuddah, Sri Lanka, February 20, 1997
161 - Romanian passenger boat Mogosoaia sank by collide with Bulgarian barge Pita Karamonchev at Danube River, Galatzi, Romania, September 10, 1989
158 - Scandinavian Star (Skagerrak, 1990)
158 - Sierra Leone boat Amunafa capsized off coast Bailor, Sierra Leone, August 3, 2007
150 - Peruvian ferry La Chachita capsized at Maranon River, central Peru, May 7, 1991.
150 - Overloaded motorrized canoe capsized off Tasso, Sierra Leone, March 25, 1999.
150 - A pontoon ferry sink by overturned on Shire River, Malawi, May 23, 1965
150 - Colombian excursion ship Vencedor capsized off Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, September, 1961
148 - Medusa (off Senegal, 1816)
147 - Chinese passenger ferry Red Star 312 capsized at Shanshui, Guangdong, China on March 2, 1983
140 - SS Koombana (off Port Hedland, Western Australia, 1912)
140 - Danish passenger ship Kjoebenhavn capsized after striking mine off coast of Jutland, Denmark, June, 1948
140 - Italian ferry Moby Prince collide with oil tanker, dense fog off Livorno, Tuscan, Italy, 1991
140 - Two African immigrants boat sank off Seferihisar, Turkey, 2007
134 - SS Morro Castle (off Asbury Park, New Jersey, 1934)
134 - Peruvian passenger boat Adresito capsized at Amazon River, Iquitos, Loreto Maynas, Peru, March 6, 1990.
131 - Chinese passenger boat Rong Jian capsized at Hejiang River, Rongshan, Sichuan, China, June 2000.
131 - Tararua (off Waipapa Point, New Zealand, 1881)
130 - Princess Victoria (Scottland, 1953)
130 - Nigerian ferry Olodiama collided with a tugboat off Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, September, 1997
130 - Thai ferry boat Sathit collided with chemical tanker at Gulf of Thailand, Si Racha, Thailand, March 1992
129 - USS Thresher (N. Atlantic, 1963)
128 - HMS Gladiator (Isle of Wight, 1908)
128 - Greek cruise ship Lakonia sunk after fire on board off Madeira, Portugal, December 28, 1962.
124+ - SS Yongala (Townsville, Australia, 1911)
124 - Djibouti ferry Al Baraqua 2 capsized off Tadjoura, Djibouti, April 6, 2006
120 - Ghanan motorboat capsized at Lake Volta, Jasikan, Ghana, April 10, 2006.
118 - Kursk (Barents Sea, 2000)
117 - Kinka Maru (Onagawa, northeastern Miyagi, Japan, 1946)
113 - Japanese wooden passenger boat Kitagawa Maru 5 capsized at Onomichi, Japan, April 1957.
102 - SS Gothenburg. (Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, 24 February 1875).
100 - Brazilian cruise boat Bateau Mouche capsized at Copacabana beach, Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 1, 1989.
99 - USS Scorpion (near Azores, 1968)
92 - Japanese passenger boat Koun Maru sank by rough sea off Misumi, Amakusa, western Kyūshū, Japan, October 1, 1933.
89 - SS Admella wrecked off South Australia, Australia, August 6, 1859
85 - Illegal African immigrants boat sank Mareg, Puntland, Yemen, 2003
82 - STV Royston Grange (off Montevideo, Uruguay, 1972)
81 - Samina (near Paros, Greece, 2000)
80 - Pamir (1957)
80 - Hong Kong ferry Fatshan plunged by torrential typhoon Rose, Auguat 17, 1971.
78 - Greek tanker Spyros exploded at Jorong shipyard, Singapore, October 12, 1978
70 - Ming 361 (2003)
58 - Bahrain wooden plesure boat al-Dana capsized off Gulf of Bahrain, 2006
57 - Danish passenger boat Turisten Killing 57 pass. after fire on board on Haderslev Dam, July 8, 1959
54 - MS Jan Heweliusz (Baltic Sea, 1993)
53 - TEV Wahine (Wellington, NZ, 1968)
51 - SS Andrea Doria (off Nantucket, Massachusetts 1956)
48 - Brazilian river boat Comandante Sales capsized at Solimoes River, on the outskirts of Manacapura, Amazonas, Brazil, May 4, 2008.
45 - SS Elingamite (Three Kings Islands, NZ, 1902)
44 - British bulk carrier Derbyshire capsized by structual failure and Typhoon Orchid off Ryukyu Island, September 9, 1980
36 - FV Gaul (Barents Sea, 1974)
35 - HMS Pandora (Torres Strait, 1791)
31 - SS Carnatic (Red Sea, 1869)
29 - SS Edmund Fitzgerald (Lake Superior, 1975)
28 - Soviet submarine K-19 (to fire, 24 February 1972)
20 - Ethan Allen (Lake George (New York), 2 October, 2005)
17 - 1979 Fastnet race (Fastnet Rock, 1979)
16 - MS Sleipner (Norway, 1999)
13 - Essex (South Pacific, 1819)

Friday, September 19, 2008



German 247 m long 50,000-ton battleship with eight 38 cm guns, top speed 30 knots, and a 2100 men crew, built in 1939. Bismarck sank HMS Hood in May, 1941 in the North Atlantic. Shortly after that, off the French coast, Bismarck was attacked by British torpedo-carrying aircraft. One of the torpedoes (too weak to penetrate the hull) got stuck in Bismarck's rudder without exploding. The steering was jammed and the ship doomed to spin in circles. After receiving thousands of shells Bismarck sank. Whether she sank from the shells, or was scuttled by her own crew remains disputed, but no matter which, the Germans lost the battle. 115 men survived. Even if the ship had not been sunk it wouldn't change history. A single ship like the Bismarck would only dare occasional hit-and-run attacks in the Atlantic.
The wreck was discovered in 1989 by Dr Robert Ballard on 4700 m depth. The hull was surprisingly intact, which might support the theory that the ship was sunk by its own crew rather than surrender it. In 2002, James Cameron filmed a documentary on and about the wreck.

ferry Dona Paz

The Doña Paz was a passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector on December 20, 1987.

The Doña Paz was en route from Catbalogan City, on Samar Island, Philippines, to Manila when, while it was in the Tablas Strait, between the islands of Mindoro and Tablas, it collided with a small oil tanker, the Vector, which was carrying 8,800 barrels of petroleum products.

The Vector's cargo ignited and caused a fire that rapidly spread onto the Doña Paz, which sank within minutes. Two of the 13 crew members aboard the Vector survived but all 58 crew of the Doña Paz died. The official death toll on the ferry is 1,565 although some reports claim that the ferry was overcrowded and that the true death toll at least 4,341.The ships would put the death toll at 4,375 although admitting that only 1,568 were on the manifest (still more than the licensed maximum of 1,518). The 21 (or 24) survivors from the ferry had to swim, as there was no time to launch lifeboats.

An inquiry later revealed that the crew of the Vector was under-qualified and that the boat's license had expired.

It is the deadliest ferry disaster and the worst peace-time maritime disaster in history.

Details of collision.

On December 19, 1987, motor tanker MT Vector left Limay, Bataan, at about 8:00 p.m., enroute to Masbate, loaded with 8,800 barrels of petroleum products shipped by petitioner Caltex. MT Vector was a tramping motor tanker owned and operated by Vector Shipping Corporation, engaged in the business of transporting fuel products such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel and crude oil. During that particular voyage, the MT Vector carried on board gasoline and other oil products owned by Caltex by virtue of a charter contract between them.

On December 20, 1987, at about 6:30 a.m., the passenger ship MV Doña Paz left the port of Tacloban headed for Manila with a complement of 59 crew members including the master and his officers, and passengers officially totaling 1,493 as indicated in the Coast Guard Clearance. The MV Doña Paz was a passenger and cargo vessel owned and operated by Sulpicio Lines, Inc. plying the route of Manila/ Tacloban/ Catbalogan/ Manila/ Catbalogan/ Tacloban/ Manila, making trips twice a week.

At about 10:30 p.m. of December 20, 1987, the two vessels collided in the open sea within the vicinity of Dumali Point between Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro. All the crewmembers of MV Doña Paz died, while the two survivors from MT Vector claimed that they were sleeping at the time of the incident.

As the two vessels collided, MT Vector's cargo of fuel and oil was set ablaze and spilled into the surrounding waters. The resulting fire caused many of the deaths of the crew and passengers of both ships.

The MV Doña Paz carried an estimated 4,000 passengers; many indeed, were not in the passenger manifest. Only 24 survived the tragedy after being rescued from the burning waters by vessels that responded to distress calls. [3] Among those who perished were public school teacher Sebastian Cañezal (47 years old) and his daughter Corazon Cañezal (11 years old), both of whom were unmanifested passengers but proven to be on board the vessel.

Cap Arcona and Thielbeck

Cap Arcona and Thielbeck

The luxury liner Cap Arcona of 27,561 tons owned by Hamburg-Sudamerica Dampfschiffaharts - Gesellschaft, had been called the Queen of the South Atlantic, and she was anchored in Lubeck bay.

It is quite ironic that a Jewish immigrant in Germany had been the founder of this ship's original owner, the Hamburg -Amerika Line.

Cap Arcona's Captain Hemvick Bertram was forced by 500 German SS guards of these concentration inmates to load 4,500 of them into his vessels holds.

The smaller Thielbeck, also anchored in the bay was similarly loaded with these unfortunate people.

On May the 3rd. 1945, Royal Air Force aircraft from 83 Group 2nd. Tactical airforce attacked both ships, plus a much smaller, ship Athens which had been used to ferry the prisoners from the shore to the respective ships at anchor.

Fire from the attacking aircraft caught the prisoners trapped below decks, Cap Arcona burning furiously rolled onto her side, Thielbeck sank within forty five minutes, and something of the order of 6,000 died from both these ships.

It was repoted that survivors in the water were gunned down by SS units on shore manning machine guns there.

mv Goya


Goya had been built in Oslo, Norway in 1942 as a 5,230 ton freighter, and had belonged to the Hamburg America Line.

In 1943, she was conscripted by the Kriegsmarine as a target vessel serving a U-Boat training program, and late in 1944, this ship had lifted almost 20,000 refugees from East Prussia, making four voyages across theBaltic.

0n April 16th. 1945, Goya was filled to bursting point with both refugees and survivors from the 35th. Tank Regiment, in all totalling about 7,000 people. The ship was steaming about 50 miles north of the Hela Peninsula and the time was four minute to midnight.

The Russian submarine L3 under the command of Captain Konovalov fired two torpedoes which ran truly, hitting Goya amidships. She broke in half and was gone in about four minutes.

Some reports suggest 183 survived, and others indicate 334 were saved, but no matter which source one may use, it is estimated in excess of 6,500 died that night.

General Steuben

General Steuben

In February 1945, this 14,600 ton ship that had belonged to the Nord German Shipping Line was involved in transporting over 3,000 wounded, refugees, doctors and nurses from the Danzig area to Swinemunde.

Shortly after midnight on february 10th, Captain Alexander Marinesko in Russian Submarine S-13, lined up the second large ship in his periscope in the space of only 10 days. He was convinced he had found a cruiser of the Emden class. Using his stern tubes he fired two torpedoes, both ran truly and hit below the bridge. General Steyben started to sink.

Torpedo Boat T-196 had been escort to General Steuben and quickly searched for the attacker but S13 departed the scene with dispatch and made her escape.

Within seven minutes General Steuben had rolled over and sunk, but three hundred were being rescued from the icy sea conditions, and it is believed that 3,000 died from this action.

Back to the Russian submarine S13, Marinesko had been ordered to return to his base at Turku, where he arrived on the 14th. of February.

Here, his superior officer Captain Oryel, informed him that he had sunk Wilhelm Gustloff, and that his second victim was not a cruiser of the Emden class, but another ship trying to evacuate refugees, she was General Stuben.

Wilhelm Gustloff

Wilhelm Gustloff. Wilhelm Gustloff.

This ship of 25,484 tons had been launched and named after her late husband by the widow of Wilhelm Gustloff who was the leader of the Nazi party of Switzerland. In 1936, he had been assassinated by David Frankfier.

May of 19319 found Wilhelm Gustloff transporting back to germany part of the Legion Condor who had fought with Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War.

In September of that year after war was declared by Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand against Germany for her invasion of Poland, this ship was commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as Hospital Ship D, then in November 1940, she was turned into an accommodation vessel anchored at Gotenhafen, the former port of Gdynia, and here it remained until January of 1945.

The port of Gotenhafen nestles an the western side of the Gulf of Danzig sheltered from the Baltic Sea by the probing arm of the Hela Peninsula.

Also in port were some remnants of the Kriegsmarine, Lutzow, a [pocket battleship, Admiral Hipper, a heavy cruiser, some light cruisers, plus a number of destroyers. All were ready to play their role in this mass evacuation from the fast approaching Russian horde.

Further east the port of Konigsberg was already under siege, here the cruiser Emden having undertaken an engine refit, was ready to make her escape, bu, was suddenly ordered to wait to take on board a special cargo.

This turned out to be the remains of Field Marshal von Hindenburg and his wife,

Their coffins had been snatched from the Memorial that had stood at Tannenberg, the scene of the Marshall's famous victory, and this city had now fallen to the fast advancing Russians.

Wilhelm Gustloff had an unusual command structure, her Captain as a civilian ship was a merchant marine officer, Friedrich Petersen, but as a residential vessel for the 2nd. U-Boat Training Division, she carried Commander Wilhelm Zalm, a naval officer in command.

Karl Hoffmann, a Kriegsmarine sailor and a survivor of the sinking leaves us with this account.

"By January 22nd, the ship had made ready to receive her passengers. It was extremely cold, about 14 degrees C below zero, and with the likely arrival of Russian forces, chaos was the order of the day.

60,000 refugees crowded into the harhour town of Gotenhafen and people stormed aboard the ship, in the mad rush to escape and gain a passage in this ship, children became separated from their parents. At the last moment, about 400 women aged from 17 to 25 who were Naval Auxiliary personnel were added to the overflowing throng on board. They were housed in the swimming pool area.

On the 29th. of January when it was doubtful that any further numbers could be squeezed on board, a hospital train arrived, and these injured soldiers were somehow crammed into the Wilhelm Gustloff."

Hoffmann estimated a company of 7- 8,000 people were loaded, but stated that the exact number were never calculated, in fact, this estimate may well be understating the actual number number of people aboard this ship.

Because of the vast excess of refugees above the normal number of passengers carried, 40% of all on board were left without any lifejackets.

At 1230 on the 30th. of January 1945, four tugs eased the Wilhelm Gustloff away from her berth, at last the shIp was moving, they would soon be on their way to safety. One can hear the collective sigh of relief that must have been uttered by her company.

The ship shaped a course westwards for the open sea and freedom!

The weather was bad, a wind strength of force 7 prevailed, snow was falling, and ice floes were evident in the surrounding waters, and layers of ice commenced to form on the decks of Wilhelm Gustloff.

Her only armament, two Anti Aircraft guns hastely mounted on the upper deck.

With the heavy weather, below decks became a shambles, as many of the refugees succumbed to sea sickness, the over crowding exacerbating this problem.

At 9:10 PM three torpedoes struck the Wilhelm Gustloff fired from the Russian submarine S13 under the command of Alexander Marinesko. Panic ensued as thousands tried to reach the deck space. The ship listed to starboard then righted herself briefly then to take on a heavy starboard list.

The first hit had been deep below the waterline and level with the bridge, the second torpedo exploded below the swimming pool area where the 400 Naval Auxiliary women had been housed and most of them died.

The third and last torpedo hit amidships in the fore part of the engine room opening up the hull and destroying machinery.

The ship was doomed, and the forecastle started to dip below the sea surface whilst the stern rose higher in the air, in only 50 minutes Wilhelm Gustloff had sunk, taking with her in the icy depths of the Baltic about 7000 children, women and men.

A flotilla of small German ships in the vicinity managed to pluck 1000 people to safety.

Hoffman was among those saved by German Torpedo Boat T-36, he reported that three rescued pregnant mothers gave birth that night aboard that Torpedo boat.

All that now remains of this proud ship is a wreck, designated as a mass grave site, making it off-limits to divers.

The mid section is badly damaged and crushed, the bow and stern appear relatively well preserved.

This wreck of Wilhelm Gustloff survives to remind us all of the single most tragic event in Maritime History, with the greatest loss of life.

It now appears that up to 10,000 could have died in that fateful night.

Thousands of unnamed people lie at rest to serve a warning to the world that War is Hell and profligate in its demands for human sacrifice.

Kublai Khan's lost fleet

In 1274 AD storms had wrecked a Mongol invasion fleet trying to attack Japan, killing more than 20,000 troops. In 1281 the Mongol emperor tried again with a vast fleet of 4400 ships and maybe more than 100,000 Chinese and Mongol soldiers. These numbers are based on contemporary sources and have not been confirmed. During the invasion attempt, Japanese naval attacks and a another subsequent typhoon sank most of the ships off the Japanese coast, killing most of the soldiers.
These two storms that saved Japan added a new phrase in the Japanese language, "kami kaze", meaning "divine wind". These two events have been claimed to be the largest sea disasters in history. At any rate, it definitely halted the Mongol expansion east, that started with Gengis Khan's conquest of China in the early 13th century.
Centuries later, several artefacts have been recovered from the seabottom of the Imari Gulf. Major remains were found in 1981 by Professor Torao Mozai. Much more is likely to be buried below the bottom sand. Local fishermed have brought up artefacts including the personal seal of a Mongol commander, inscribed in both Chinese and the Phagspa script used to write the Mongolian language. Among other finds are iron swords, stone catapult balls, spearheads and stone anchors.
Since 1991, investigations are led by archaeologist Kenzo Hayashida of the Kyushu Okinawa Society for Underwater Archaeology (KOSUWA). After 10 years of search, they made a major find in October 2001 – an entire shipwreck, that appears to originate from Fujian in south China. The scattered remails of the Mongol Navy ship were located on 15 m depth, below ca 1 m of mud on the seabottom. The ship appears to have been ca 70 m long. Among the finds are several ceramic projectile bombs, filled with gunpowder and iron shrapnel.