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Tankdampfer MAYA (ex FIAMMA, ex SIRIUS, ex LACKAWANNA)

Begonnen von Dimitris Galon, 03 Oktober 2017, 18:10:56

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Dimitris Galon

Im Rahmen des ,,Tenedos Tauchprojekts"* haben wir am 19 September 2017 etwa sechs Seemeilen südwestlich der Insel Tenedos (Turkisch ,,Bozcaada") ein Schiffswrack betaucht, welches als den italienischen Tankdampfer MAYA (ex FIAMMA, ex SIRIUS, ex LACKAWANNA) identifizierten. Die MAYA wurde am 5 September 1941 von dem britischen U-Boot HMS PERSEUS (N 36) torpediert und versenkt.

Hier der englische Bericht über die Entdeckung:     

Italian steam tanker MAYA

Today, 19 September 2017, our international team dived, examined, documented and finally identified a shipwreck at the southwest of the island of Tenedos (Turkish Bozcaada) as the Italian steam tanker MAYA (ex FIAMMA, ex SIRIUS, ex LACKAWANNA), which sank on 5 September 1941 after a torpedo attack carried out by the Parthian-class British submarine HMS PERSEUS (N 36). We asume that our team was the first one to see and recognise S/T MAYA after 76 years of her loss.

Flag: Italian
Type: Tanker
Size (GRT): 3855
Size (NRT): 2198
Length (m): 108,2
Width (m): 13,4
Depth (m): 9,1
Construction: David J. Dunlop & Co, Inch yard (Port Glasgow), Great Britain
Yard No.: 220
Completion: 1894
Engine: Three-cylinder reciprocating steam engine
Engine manufacturer: David J. Dunlop & Co, Great Britain
Output: 413 NHP
Propeller: 1
Speed (kn): 9,5
Last owner: Cisterne Italiane Soliani e Saltamerenda, Genoa, Italy

The Italian steam tanker MAYA was built in 1894 by the shipbuilding company David J. Dunlop & Co, as yard no. 220 in the Inch yard (Port Glasgow), Great Britain, for the British maritime company "Lackawanna Steam-Ship Co. Ltd.", London. The vessel was launched with the name LACKAWANNA on 26 October 1893 and has been completed during February 1894. In 1901 she became property of the "Anglo-American Oil Co. Ltd." and in 1909 she was sold to the German oil company "Deutsch-Amerikanische Petroleum Gesellschaft" in Hamburg and renamed SIRIUS. In 1919 she became property of the U.S. Government as German war compensation of World War I and later in the same year she was submitted to the Belgian government. In 1924 she was sold to the Italian maritime company "Samengo & Mussinelli" and renamed MAYA. The vessel was registered with the number 1141 and the international call sign NYMJ in the port register of Genoa (Compartimento Maritimo di Genova), Italy. In 1925 she became property of Gerolamo Massabo, in 1927 of the "Società Anonima Petroliere", in 1928 of the "Cisterne Italiane Società Anonima di Navigatione" and finally in 1938 of the "Cisterne Italiane Soliani e Saltamerenda" which was also based in Genoa. After the entrance of Italy in World War II (10 June 1940) she was used by Regia Marina Italiana for military obligations in the Adria, the Aegean and the Black Sea.

On 5 September 1941, while steaming on ballast from Piraeus (Greece) to the Dardanelles, having as final destination a Romanian port, S/T MAYA was attacked at 07:35 hours (Axis operational time) with four torpedoes at the position 39° 43´ N / 25° 57´ E (north Aegean) by the British submarine HMS PERSEUS (Lt. Cdr. E.C.F. Nicolay, RN). S/T MAYA was steaming in convoy with the Romanian freighter BALCIC (3600 GRT, built 1940) and was escorted by the Italian torpedo boat SIRIO. The war diary of HMS PERSEUS (N 36) reports the following concerning the torpedo attack against S/T MAYA:

"5 September 1941, 07.56 hours [British operational time], sighted convoy consisting of one tanker and M/V BALERO [Lt. Cdr. Nicolay was mistaken, it was the Romanian freighter BALCIC] escorted by one Spica class destroyer [the Italian T/B SIRIO] bearing south seven miles and commenced attack.

08.33 hours, position 39° 45´N/25° 51´E fired four torpedoes at range 5.100 yards from nearest ship; explosion heard. BALERO appeared to be making a lot of smoke amidships and tanker turned to port with a list. Went deep to avoid counter attack. Four depth charges dropped but none very close.

09.36 hours, came to periscope depth. Sighted Heinkel type floatplane distant two miles, possibly Turkish. Fired one torpedo at tanker which was stopped range about 3.500 yards. Tanker had list of approximately 50° to port, gunwale under. Ship had been abandoned, torpedo missed. This may have been due to eddies between submarine and the target. Counter attacked with thirteen depth charges, nearest about half a mile away, being a pattern of four presumably dropped at the end of track.

09.55 hours, last charge dropped, shortly afterwards a small explosion heard bearing 030°.

10.37 hours, came to periscope depth, dense cloud of smoke bearing 060°, presumably destroyer making off at high speed. No sign of Tanker or BALERO could be seen. Proceeded out of patrol area course 200°."

S/T MAYA received one hit amidships and had only one casualty. After the attack, she remained buoyant and was towed by T/B SIRIO but as being beyond salvage she was scuttled at 10:00 hours with cannon shots by T/B SIRIO at the southwest off the island of Tenedos (Turkey). Three months later, HMS PERSEUS struck an Italian mine on 6 December 1941 off the island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea (Greece) and sank with all hands lost (60 casualties) except one man, the 31-year-old stoker John Capes who succeeded to open the hatch at the aft of the submerged submarine and escape. The wreck of HMS PERSEUS was found in 1997 in 52 meters of water by a team of Greek divers.

The wreck of S/T MAYA rests in two pieces at 68 meters of water on a sandy bottom while her bow points to 225 degrees. The bow section lays upright on her kill, while the aft section on her port side. The gap between the two parts is round about 25 meters long. The masts, the hole of the funnel at the aft, the poop, the superstructure amidships, the winch and the small crane at the forecastle, are some of the details, which in combination with the dimensions of the shipwreck and the position of her loss, as mentioned in the German war diaries, let us to definitely identify her as the Italian steam tanker MAYA.


Lloyds Register of Shipping
Kriegstagebuch des Admirals Südost – Marinegruppenkommando Süd (NARA)
Kriegstagebuch des kommandierenden Admirals Ägäis (NARA)
ADM 236/5 (The National Archives, Kew Garden)
Lupinacci, Pier Filippo, (compilatore) / Tognelli, Vittorio (revisore): La difesa del traffico l´Albania, la Grecia e l´Egeo, La Marina italiana nella seconde Guerra mondiale, Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare, Vol. IX, Roma 1965
Notarangelo, Rolando / Pagano, Gian Paolo: Navi mercantili perdute, Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare
Projekt ASA, Allied Submarine Attacks, Historisches Marinearchiv
Rohwer, Jürgen: Allied Submarine Attacks of World War Two, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland 1997

*) Das "Tenedos Dive Project" ist ein internationales Projekt, das als Ziel hat, sowohl die noch unbekannten historischen Wracks der Insel Tenedos (türkisch "Bozcaada", nordöstliche Ägäis) zu orten, zu betauchen, zu untersuchen und zu dokumentieren, als auch die verschiedenen Aspekte der Marinegeschichte während der beiden Weltkriege in dieser Gegend zu hervorheben. Die Projektteilnehmer, die lange Erfahrung in der Archiv- und Feldforschung, Dokumentation und tiefem Wracktauchen vorweisen, sind Selçuk Kolay, Savaş Karakaş, Erol Öztunali, Hasan Tan, Odak Bingöl und Rabia Türk aus der Türkei, Derk Remmers, Jarek Grüber und Markus Kerwath aus Deutschland, sowie Dimitri Galon aus Griechenland. Die Tauchaktivitäten des "Tenedos Dive Project" für das Jahr 2017 fanden statt vom 18. bis 23. September 2017.

de domenico

MAYA first came under the Italian flag in 1921 as FIAMMA for Soc. Andora of Genoa, then in 1924 she became MAYA for Samengo & Mussinelli etc. On 10 June 1940 she was in Bulgaria and was later able to return to Italy.

Sources: miramar ship index, USMM "Navi Mercantili Perdute "

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