Convoy SC 121

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Convoy SC 121
Part of Battle of the Atlantic
Mk VII depth charge.jpg
A depth charge being loaded onto a depth-charge thrower aboard the corvette HMS Dianthus
Date 6–10 March 1943
Location North Atlantic
Result German tactical victory
Belligerents
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
United States United States
Canada Canada
War Ensign of Germany 1938-1945.svg Germany
Commanders and leaders
Capt. H.C. Birnie RNR
Capt. P.R. Heineman USN
Admiral Karl Dönitz
Strength
69 freighters
2 destroyers
3 cutters
3 corvettes
27 submarines[1]
Casualties and losses
12 freighters sunk (55,673 GRT)
270 killed/drowned

Convoy SC-121 was the 121st of the numbered series of World War II Slow Convoys of merchant ships from Sydney, Cape Breton Island to Liverpool.[2] The ships departed New York City 23 February 1943;[3] and were met by the Mid-Ocean Escort Force Group A-3 consisting of the USCG Treasury Class Cutter USCGC Spencer, the Wickes class destroyer USS Greer, the Flower class corvettes HMS Dianthus, HMCS Rosthern, HMCS Trillium and HMCS Dauphin,[4] and the convoy rescue ship Melrose Abbey.[5] Three of the escorts had defective SONAR and three had inoperative RADAR.[6]

Background[edit]

As western Atlantic coastal convoys brought an end to the second happy time, Admiral Karl Dönitz, the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU) or commander in chief of U-Boats, shifted focus to the mid-Atlantic to avoid aircraft patrols. Although convoy routing was less predictable in the mid-ocean, Dönitz anticipated that the increased numbers of U-boats being produced would be able to effectively search for convoys with the advantage of intelligence gained through B-Dienst decryption of British Naval Cypher Number 3.[7] However, only 20 percent of the 180 trans-Atlantic convoys sailing from the end of July 1942 until the end of April 1943, lost ships to U-boat attack.[8]

Battle[edit]

On 6 March U-405 sighted the convoy,[5] which had been scattered by nine consecutive days of northwesterly Force 10 gales and snow squalls.[9] The storm damaged the radio communication system aboard the escort commander's ship Spencer and Dauphin had to leave the convoy with damaged steering gear.[6] U-230 torpedoed the British freighter Egyptian on the night of 6-7 March.[10] The British freighter Empire Impala stopped to rescue survivors and was torpedoed after dawn by U-591.[10]

U-190 torpedoed the British freighter Empire Lakeland when the gale subsided on 8 March and four more stragglers were sunk by U-526, U-527, U-591, and U-642.[5] On 9 March the convoy escort was reinforced by No. 120 Squadron RAF B-24 Liberators from Northern Ireland and by the Wickes class destroyer USS Babbitt and the USCG Treasury Class Cutters USCGC Bibb and USCGC Ingham from Iceland.[5]

U-530 torpedoed straggling Swedish freighter Milos on the evening of 9 March. That night U-405 torpedoed the Norwegian freighter Bonneville while U-229 torpedoed the British freighter Nailsea Court and U-409 torpedoed the British escort oiler Rosewood and American ammunition ship Malantic.[11]

The Flower class corvettes Campion and Mallow reinforced the convoy escort on 10 March,[5] and the convoy reached Liverpool on 14 March.[10] Only 76 of the 275 crewmen of the sunken ships were rescued.[6]





Ships in convoy[edit]

Name[12] Flag[12] Dead[10] Tonnage (GRT)[12] Cargo[10] Notes[12]
Alcoa Leader (1919)  United States 5,041 Petrol
Astrid (1942)  Norway 2,861 Sugar
Badjestan (1928)  United Kingdom 5,573 Wheat
Baldbutte (1919)  United States 6,295
Bengkalis (1918)  Netherlands 6,453 General cargo Survived this convoy and convoy ONS 5
Bonneville (1929)  Norway 36 4,665 7,196 tons explosives & general cargo Carried convoy commodore Capt H.C. Birnie DSO RD RNR; sunk by U-405 10 Mar
Brant County (1915)  Norway 5,001 General cargo Returned to Halifax
British Freedom (1928)  United Kingdom 6,985 Furnace fuel oil
British Progress (1927)  United Kingdom 4,581 Petrol Veteran of convoy SC 104
Camerata (1931)  United Kingdom 4,875 Nron ore
Clunepark (1928)  United Kingdom 3,491 Phosphates
Coulmore (1936)  United Kingdom 3,670 General cargo Torpedoed, but towed and salvaged
Dilworth (1919)  United States 7,045 Gas oil
Egton (1938)  United Kingdom 4,363 Nron ore
Egyptian (1920)  United Kingdom 44 2,868 Oilseed, palm oil & tin ore Sunk by U-230 7 Mar
El Grillo (1922)  United Kingdom 7,264 Fuel oil
Empire Advocate (1913)  United Kingdom 5,787 General cargo Survived this convoy and convoy ONS 5
Empire Bunting (1919)  United Kingdom 6,448 General cargo Arrived in tow after steering failure on 11 March
Empire Caxton (1942)  United Kingdom 2,873 Bauxite
Empire Forest (1942)  United Kingdom 7,025 General cargo
Empire Grebe (1918)  United Kingdom 5,736 General cargo
Empire Impala (1920)  United Kingdom 48 6,116 7,628 tons general cargo Sunk by U-591 while picking up survivors 7 Mar
Empire Keats (1942)  United Kingdom 7,035 West African produce Carried convoy vice commodore Capt A Cocks DSC RD RNR
Empire Lakeland (1942)  United Kingdom 7,015 Refrigerated and general cargo Straggled and sunk by U-190
Empire Opossum (1918)  United Kingdom 5,644 Grain
Empire Planet (1923)  United Kingdom 4,290 General cargo Survived this convoy and convoy ONS 5
Eskdalegate (1930)  United Kingdom 4,250 Nron ore
Fort Lamy (1919)  United Kingdom 5,242 Steel & general cargo Veteran of convoy ON 154; straggled and sunk by U-527 8 Mar
Fort Remy (1943)  United Kingdom 7,127 General cargo
Garnes (1930)  Norway 1,559 Veteran of convoy SC 104
Gascony (1925)  United Kingdom 4,716 General cargo
Gatineau Park (1942)  United Kingdom 7,128 General cargo Fitted with Admiralty Net Defence
Guido (1920)  United Kingdom 3,921 Sugar & cotton Romped and sunk by U-633 8 Mar
Hallfried (1918)  Norway 2,968 Flour
Harpefjell (1939)  Norway 1,333 General cargo
Harperly (1930)  United Kingdom 4,586 Bauxite Survived to be sunk 2 months later in convoy ONS 5
Hollywood (1920)  United States 5,498 General cargo Veteran of convoy PQ 18
Katendrecht (1925)  Netherlands 5,099 Gas oil
Kingswood (1929)  United Kingdom 5,080 General cargo
L V Stanford (1921)  United States 7,138 Furnace fuel oil Veteran of convoy SC 107
USS Laramie (1919)  United States 5,450 Detached for Greenland
Leadgate (1925)  United Kingdom 2,125 Flour Straggled and sunk by U-642 8 Mar
Lobos (1921)  United Kingdom 6,479 Tin & general cargo
Lombardy (1921)  United Kingdom 3,379 General cargo
Lorient (1921)  United Kingdom 4,737 Steel & lumber Veteran of convoy SC 42; survived to be sunk 2 months later in convoy ONS 5
Malantic (1929)  United States 25 3,837 8,000 tons ammunition Veteran of convoy SC 107; sunk by U-409 9 Mar
Manchester Progress (1938)  United Kingdom 5,620 General cargo
Melrose Abbey (1929)  United Kingdom 1,924 convoy rescue ship
Miguel de Larrinaga (1924)  United Kingdom 5,231 Tobacco Veteran of convoy SC 42
Milos (1898)  Sweden 30 3,058 804 tons steel & lumber Sunk by U-530 11 Mar
Morska Wola (1924)  Poland 3,208 General cargo Veteran of convoy HX 84
Nadin (1904)  Greece 3,582 Steel & lumber
Nailsea Court (1936)  United Kingdom 45 4,946 7,661 tons copper & general cargo Sunk by U-229 10 Mar
Parkhaven (1920)  Netherlands 4,803 General cargo
Porjus (1906)  Sweden 2,965 Steel & pulp Veteran of convoy SC 104; returned to port & sailed with convoy SC 122
Raranga (1916)  United Kingdom 10,043 Refrigerated & general cargo
Ravnefjell (1938)  Norway 1,339 General cargo Veteran of convoy HX 79 & convoy ON 154; survived this convoy & convoy SC 130
Reaverley (1940)  United Kingdom 4,998 Bauxite Returned to port
Rosewood (1931)  United Kingdom 42 5,989 Furnace fuel oil Escort oiler; sunk by U-409 9 Mar
San Tirso (1913)  United Kingdom 6,266 Furnace fuel oil
Scorton (1939)  United Kingdom 4,813 Sugar
Sinnington Court (1928)  United Kingdom 6,910 General cargo Veteran of convoy SC 104
Suderoy (1913)  Norway 7,562 Fuel oil Veteran of convoy SC 104
Sutlej (1940)  United Kingdom 5,189 General cargo
Thraki (1941)  Greece 7,460 Grain & general cargo
Trontolite (1918)  United Kingdom 7,115
Vancolite (1928)  United Kingdom 11,404
Vojvoda Putnik (1916)  Yugoslavia 5,879 Wheat Straggled and sunk by U-591
Zouave (1930)  United Kingdom 4,256 Nron ore Returned to port to be sunk sailing with convoy SC 122

See Also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Hague, Arnold (2000). The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-019-3. 
  • Milner, Marc (1985). North Atlantic Run. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-450-0. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1975). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume I The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1943. Little, Brown and Company. 
  • Rohwer, J. and Hummelchen, G. (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X. 
  • Tarrant, V.E. (1989). The U-Boat Offensive 1914-1945. Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-520-X. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Milner p.235
  2. ^ Hague 2000 p.133
  3. ^ Hague 2000 p.135
  4. ^ Milner 1985 p.291
  5. ^ a b c d e Rohwer & Hummelchen 1992 p.196
  6. ^ a b c Morison 1975 p.342
  7. ^ Tarrant p.108
  8. ^ Hague pp.132, 137-138,161-162,164&181
  9. ^ Morison 1975 p.341
  10. ^ a b c d e Hague 2000 p.137
  11. ^ Hague 2000 pp.137-8
  12. ^ a b c d "SC convoys". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-05-29.