Monday, March 12, 2012

Abandon Ship

Here is guest blogger Tacitus to tell us a little more of the story of the ocean liner Muenchen.

I am glad that Gramps got off that ship without incident beyond the grease stained collar of his mother. It was very fortunate that on their journey they were spared the call for "women and children first" as the Muenchen seems to have been an unlucky vessel.

In 1930 it was tied up to a pier in New York City . It caught fire and despite the efforts of the entire NYFD it exploded and sank.

Remarkably it was raised and salvaged. The owners thought it might be time for a new name, so the steam ship Muenchen became the S.S. General von Steuben after the famous German officer who helped train the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

The outbreak of World War Two found the Steuben in home waters, so she became a troop transport plying the waters of the Baltic Sea.

Late in the war the advancing Russian Army had cut off a large part of German East Prussia. A naval evacuation was ordered, ultimately rescuing 2 million people. But not without cost.

On February 10th, 1945 the General von Steuben was torpedoed by a Russian submarine. Nobody knows for sure how many were on board but figures of about 2,800 wounded German soldiers, 300 nurses, 1500 refugees plus the regular crew seem about right. Somewhere between 300 and 600 were rescued from the frigid water. As a maritime disaster it was far worse than the Titanic.

Here is video of divers exploring the wreck of the Muenchen/von Steuben. No doubt some of these spooky corridors were once toddled down by “Our Sunshine” as a wee lad…

Diving on the wreck of Steuben in the Baltic Sea. from Peter O on Vimeo.

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