SS Westfalen (1905)

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: SS Westfalen
Namesake: The Province of Westphalia in Germany
Builder: J.C. Tecklenborg, Geestemünde, Germany
Yard number: 208
Launched: 14 November 1905
Fate: Sunk, probably by naval mine, on 7 September 1944
General characteristics
Type: Steamship
Tonnage: 5,098 GRT
10,700 DWT
Length: 124.8 m (409 ft 5 in) o/a
Beam: 16.06 m (52 ft 8 in)
Draught: 8.52 m (27 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: 1 × 3,000 hp (2,237 kW) quadruple expansion steam engine
4 boilers
1 screw
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 54
Armament: 2 × 20 mm AA guns (wartime)
Aircraft carried: 1 × Dornier Wal or Do 18
Aviation facilities: Crane and catapult for flying boats

SS Westfalen was a German ship launched on 14 November 1905 at J.C. Tecklenborg in Geestemünde.[1]

In the early 1930s Westfalen was converted into a seaplane tender to serve as both weather reporting and refueling station for Dornier Wal flying boats of Lufthansa carrying mail trans-Atlantic between Europe and South America. The conversion of the Westfalen consisted of a large retractable stern mounted canvas drag apron for the flying boat to taxi on (i.e. for use in heavy seas and so the ship does not have to come to dead stop), cranes to lift the flying boats out the water to be refueled and serviced, and a large compressed air catapult for launching the aircraft heavy with fuel back into the air.[2] When in operation, Westfalen cruised 900 miles in the middle of the South Atlantic between Bathhurst, Gambia (now Banjul) and Pernambuco, Brazil. First test trans-Atlantic flights by Lufthansa Wals began in 1933 and the first commercial mail flights in 1934.[3][4]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, the ship was used for transport between Germany and German-occupied Norway. On 7 September 1944 the ship sank off Marstrand, after hitting a naval mine. Seventy-eight people aboard survived, but most of the locked-up Norwegian prisoners-of-war were casualties, including Petter Moen, Reidar Olaf Østlid and Sverre Lid. SS-Sturmscharführer Wilhelm Heinze also died.[5]

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Coordinates: 57°46′47″N 11°27′22″E / 57.7797°N 11.4561°E / 57.7797; 11.4561