|Builder:||Akers Mekaniske Verksted, Oslo|
|Fate:||Torpedoed and sunk on 16 April 1945|
|Tonnage:||5,230 Gross Register Tons|
|Length:||145 m (476 ft)|
|Beam:||17.4 m (57 ft)|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
The Goya was a German transport ship sunk by a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea, near the end of the Second World War, while carrying wounded Wehrmacht troops and civilians who were fleeing the advance of Soviet forces. Most of the crew and passengers died. The sinking of the Goya was one of the biggest single-incident maritime losses of life of the war, and as such one of the largest maritime losses of life in history, with just 183 survivors among 7,000 passengers and crew.
History of the ship
The Goya was originally built as a freighter by the Akers Mekaniske Verksted shipyard in Oslo in 1940. The ship was 145 m (475.72 feet) long and 17.4 m (57.08 feet) wide, had a capacity of 5,230 GRT, and a top speed of 18 knots. Following the German occupation of Norway, the ship was seized by Germany and used as a troop transport. In the harbor of Memel (Klaipėda), it was used as a target for torpedo testing.
Fleeing the Red Army
In 1945, the Goya was used as both an evacuation ship and Wehrmacht troop transport, moving people from the eastern Baltic to the west. Contrary to popular belief, the Goya was not a hospital ship during Operation Hannibal. On 16 April 1945, the Goya was sailing from the Hel Peninsula, across the Baltic Sea to western Germany, overloaded with German troops and civilians fleeing from the Red Army, including 200 men of the 25th Panzer Regiment. The list of passengers documented 6,100 people on board, but it is possible that hundreds more boarded the ship, using every space available.
As the convoy passed the Hel Peninsula at the exit of the Danzig Bay, it was sighted by the Soviet minelayer submarine L-3 which also carried torpedoes. Even though the Goya was faster than submarines, the convoy was slowed by the engine problems of the Kronenfels, which also required a 20-minute stop for repairs. At around 23:52, the commander of L-3, Captain Vladimir Konovalov, gave the order to fire.
Within seven minutes of being torpedoed, the Goya, a freighter without the safety precautions of a passenger ship, sank to a depth of approximately 76m, with the loss of possibly more than 6,000 people killed, either within the ship, or outside by drowning and hypothermia in the icy waters. The exact number can probably never be determined. The captain of another ship mentioned a figure of 7-8,000 passengers and crew in his report. In total, only 183 people were saved from the water by M 256 and M 328. It may be the second-worst maritime disaster by number of casualties during World War II, following the Wilhelm Gustloff.
Discovery of the wreck
On 26 August 2002, the wreck was discovered by Polish technical divers Grzegorz Dominik and Michał Porada, who also salvaged the ship's compass.
Exactly 58 years after the sinking of the Goya, the wreck was located on 16 April 2003 by an international expedition under the direction of Ulrich Restemeyer with the help of 3D-Sonar scanning. The position records of Goya's accompanying ships were found to be incorrect, probably made during a hasty escape. It turned out to be identical with "Wreck No. 88" on Polish Navy maps. During the rediscovery another, smaller, ship had been seen above the wreck, which at first was thought to carry fishermen, but when Restemeyer's Fritz Reuter came close, the ship, seemingly carrying divers, left.
The wreck lay at a depth of 76m below the surface of the Baltic Sea and is in remarkably good condition, though covered with nets. Survivors mourned the tragedy in a wreath-laying ceremony.
- Fritz Brustat-Naval: Unternehmen Rettung, Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg, 2001, ISBN 3-7822-0829-3
- Ernst Fredmann: Sie kamen übers Meer - Die größte Rettungsaktion der Geschichte, Pfälzische Verlagsges., ISBN 3-88527-040-4
- Heinz Schön: Ostsee '45, Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, 1995, ISBN 3-87943-856-0
- Cap Arcona
- Wilhelm Gustloff
- List by death toll of ships sunk by submarines
- List of World War II ships
- Iosif Stalin
- Shteinberg, Mark, "Евреи в войнах тысячелетий." Moscow, Jerusalem: Gesharim, 2005 (Russian), p. 302.
- Williams, David, Wartime Disasters at Sea. Near Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Limited, 1997.
- The expedition searching for the wreck of the Goya between the 12 – 22 April 2003 with the MS Fritz Reuter and an MDR-Team (in German[dead link])
- Photograph of SS Goya