SS Soesterberg

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
SS Soesterberg.jpg
Career (Netherlands) Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Name: SS Soesterberg
Operator: Stoomboot Mij Hillegersberg NV (Vinke & Co), Rotterdam
Builder: Antwerp Engineering Co Ltd, Hoboken
Completed: 1927
Fate: Sunk on 19 October 1940
General characteristics
Class and type: Steam merchant ship
Tonnage: 1,904 tons
Length: 84.89 m
Beam: 12.24 m
Height: 6.27 m
Speed: 10 knots
Crew: 25

The SS Soesterberg was a Dutch steam merchant ship that saw service during the Second World War. She sailed with several convoys, before joining the ill-fated convoy SC-7. Whilst sailing as part of this convoy she was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat.[1]

Early career

Soesterberg was built in 1927 by Antwerp Engineering Co Ltd, of Hoboken and entered service with Stoomboot Mij Hillegersberg NV (Vinke & Co), Rotterdam, who homeported her in Amsterdam.[1] She survived in allied hands after the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. She went on to make a number of transatlantic crossings to bring supplies to Britain. Her first convoy was as part of OB-174 in June 1940, when she sailed to America from Liverpool, returning with convoy HX-59 in July, having sailed from Halifax Nova Scotia.[2] She then sailed from Methil back to America as part of convoy OA-28 in September.[2]


Her return journey was as part of convoy SC-7 in October. She sailed from Chatham, New Brunswick, joining the convoy assembling at Sydney, Nova Scotia, and departing with the convoy on 5 October. Soesterberg was bound for Hull carrying 790 fathoms of pit props.[1] During the crossing the convoy was overwhelmed by a number of German U-boats, who executed a successful wolf pack attack. U-101, under the command of Fritz Frauenheim was one of those attacking the convoy. At 01.22 hours on 19 October U-101 fired three bow torpedoes at the ships of the convoy as they sailed some 102 miles west by north of Barra Head, Outer Hebrides. He followed this up two minutes later by firing a stern torpedo. After observing the results he claimed to have made four hits on four ships, sinking them for a total of 21,000 grt.[1] He had however only hit two ships, the Assyrian with a bow torpedo, and the Soesterberg with the stern torpedo.[1]

The explosion of the torpedo blew four men overboard and wrecked the starboard lifeboat. Three gunners then abandoned ship on a raft, whilst the rest of the crew left in the port lifeboat. When a headcount was carried out, the men from the engine room were found to be missing. The master and the first mate re-boarded the ship to search for them, but they apparently had been killed on watch below. The master and the first mate then left.[1] The now abandoned Soesterberg remained afloat and drifting, subsequently colliding with the stern of the stricken wreck of the Assyrian. She suddenly turned upright and sank shortly thereafter. Her cargo of pit props came loose as she did so, several falling onto the survivors of the Assyrian, wrecking many of their life rafts. The survivors were able to use the pit props as lifesavers as they awaited rescue.[1] The survivors were picked up by HMS Leith and were landed at Greenock.[1] In the meantime one of Soesterberg’s stokers had also survived the sinking and was picked up by a life boat from the SS Empire Brigade, that had previously been sunk by Otto Kretschmer's U-99. There were six dead and nineteen survivors from Soesterberg.[1]


Coordinates: 57°12′N 10°43′W / 57.2°N 10.717°W / 57.2; -10.717