MS Rio de Janeiro (1914)

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MS Rio de Janeiro
MS Rio de Janeiro
Flag of the NSDAP (1920–1945).svg
Name: MS Rio de Janeiro
Formerly MS Santa Ines
Owner: Hamburg Süd
Operator: Kriegsmarine
Port of registry: Weimar Republic Stettin, Germany (1914–33)
Germany Stettin (1933–40)
Builder: Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack
Launched: 3 April 1914
Out of service: 8 April 1940
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk 8 April 1940
Status: The wreck`s position is unknown
General characteristics
Class & type: Santa-class
Tonnage: 5261 grt
Length: 122m
Beam: 17m
Installed power: 2300 HP
Propulsion: Triple-expansion engine, Single screw
Speed: 10 kn
Crew: 50

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, began on 9 April 1940. [1]

Invasion of Norway[edit]

The secret plan for the ship was to arrive at Bergen right after German troops had captured the town. On board Rio de Janeiro there were a total of 50 crew and 330 soldiers. Her cargo consisted of six 2 cm FlaK 30 and four 10.5 cm FlaK 38 anti-aircraft guns, 73 horses, 71 vehicles and 292 tons of provisions, animal feed, fuel and ammunition.


The conning tower of Polish submarine ORP Orzel (1938)

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 a Polish submarine 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, ordered to bring the papers of the ship over to the submarine and surrender, or the ship would be sunk, but nothing happened. The Polish submarine ORP Orzeł then torpedoed the ship, and she took in water and sank.[2][3] 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 did not survive.

Norwegian authorities alarmed[edit]

Norwegian officials were told by survivors that the ship's destination had been Bergen. The fact that there were horses on board and that many of the dead and survivors were wearing military uniforms, led to alerting of the central authorities. However, the government did not realize that a Nazi-German invasion was imminent.

The wreck[edit]

The wreck of Rio de Janeiro has never been found, its exact position is unknown. Fishermen have for many years captured parts from the wreck of MS Rio de Janeiro in the fishing nets in this area, and also the Royal Norwegian Navy is still working to locate the wreck.


  1. ^ [1] Divers site about MS Rio de Janeiro (Norwegian)
  2. ^ Facta Nautica:Frachtowiec RIO DE JANEIRO (Polish)
  3. ^ Facta Nautica:ORP Orzel (Polish)


  • Kristen Taraldsen: Ti i krig, Fædrelandsvennen (1998) ISBN 82-90581-28-9 (Norwegian)
  • Kristen Tallaksen: Da krigen kom til Lillesand. Den dramatiske Torpederingen av Rio de Janeiro 8. April 1940, Fædrelandsvennen (1984) ISBN 82-90581-00-9 (Norwegian)
  • Carl Herbert: Kriegsfahrten deutscher Handelsschiffe. Broschek & Co, Hamburg 1934 (German).
  • Arnold Kludas: Die Schiffe der Hamburg-Süd 1871 bis 1951. Gerhard Stalling Verlag, Oldenburg 1976, ISBN 3-7979-1875-5 (German)