German Ship MS Rio de Janeiro Found

MS Rio de Janeiro sunk in 1940 was recently found at 135 m depth.

MS Rio de Janeiro sunk in 1940 was recently found at 135 m depth.

The German ship Rio de Janeiro has been found outside Lillesand. Around 200 from a total of 380 German troops died when the ship was sunk the day before the German invasion of Norway. The Rio de Janeiro was sunk by a Polish submarine on April 8, 1940. After six years of exploration a team has now discovered the ship at 135 meters depth, NRK reports.

MS Rio de Janeiro was a German steam ship and a cargo ship, owned by the shipping company Hamburg Süd and home ported in Stettin. She was launched on 3 April 1914 as Santa Ines and later renamed Rio de Janeiro. She was requisitioned by the Deutsche Kriegsmarine for transportation of troops 7 March 1940, before Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway and Denmark.

The ship left Stettin on 6 April 1940 at 3 AM. Two days later, at 11.15, only hours before the attack on Norway began, a surfaced submarine was sighted off Lillesand. At first it was thought to be a German submarine, but it turned out to be the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł, serving under British command. It had 85 A written on the tower. The submarine signalled for Rio de Janeiro to stop, and the order was followed. Captain Grudzinski, of the Polish Navy, then ordered the ship to surrender or it would be sunk, but nothing happened.

Wreckage of Rio de Janeiro (Credits: ADYKK)

Wreckage of Rio de Janeiro (Credits: ADYKK)

The Polish submarine then torpedoed the ship, and she took in water and began sinking. The crew and soldiers on board began to jump into the sea. At 12.00, an aircraft from the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service started circling around the sinking ship. At 12.50 the submarine torpedoed the ship a second time, from a submerged position. The torpedo hit the ammunition depot, which caused an explosion. About 180 survived the sinking, and were rescued from the sea and brought by local vessels to Lillesand and Kristiansand; roughly 200 died.

Credits: NRK / Wikipedia


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1 Comment

  1. Just few more details. At first, after right identification of the target ORP Orzeł ordered Rio De Janeiro to stop immediately. Rio De Janeiro didn’t follow that order, and instead increased it’s speed. At this point ORP Orzeł machine-gunned the ship, that worked out well and ship finally stopped. In the same time ship’s crew was sending encoded communication (probably asking other German units for help). After that Grudzinski commander of ORP Orzeł gave Rio De Janeiro 5 minutes to evacuate from the ship because it’s going to be destroyed. Rio De Janeiro responded that they got the message and understand, but they did nothing. They stayed on the ship. Then Grudzinski sent first torpedo that missed (because of a small boat that showed up between ORP Orzeł and ship). He had to change submarine’s position, and then sent another torpedo that hit the larboard. At this point panic occurred between Germans and they finally started evacuation. After few minutes ORP Orzeł is sending third torpedo which causes ship to break in half.

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