SS El Grillo

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United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Name: El Grillo
Operator: The Bowring Steamship Co., Liverpool
Builder: Armstrong W. G. & Whitworth Co. Ltd., Newcastle
Launched: 1922
Fate: Sunk after German air raid, 10 February 1944
General characteristics
Type: Merchant vessel
Tonnage: 7264 grt
Length: 134.3 m (440 ft 7 in)
Beam: 17.5 m (57 ft 5 in)
Propulsion: steam engines
Speed: 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 49
Armament: • 4 x Oerlikon 20 mm cannons air defence cannons
• 1 x 4 inch medium calibre gun
• 1 x 12 pounder high angle quick fire medium calibre gun

The SS El Grillo was a British oil tanker sunk without casualties by a German air attack at Seyðisfjörður, Iceland on 10 February 1944.[2][3]

Iceland, which remained neutral during World War II, had been occupied by Britain in May 1940 and, in April 1941, by the United States.[4]

"El Grillo" is Spanish for "The Cricket".[5]


The steam ship SS El Grillo was built in 1922 at Armstrong W. G. & Whitworth Co. Ltd., Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and operated by The Bowring Steamship Co., based at Liverpool.[3][1]

On 10 February 1944, the ship was at anchor at Seyðisfjörður, carrying a cargo of bunker oil. The ship was not unarmed, being a Defensively Equipped Merchant Vessel, and carrying anti-aircraft guns as well as depth charges.[2]

While at anchor, the ship was attacked by three German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors from the I./KG 40, stationed in occupied Norway, and heavily damaged.[6] The captain of El Grillo decided to scuttle the ship to prevent it and other ships at Seyðisfjörður from becoming more of a target.[7]


The wreck of El Grillo remains at the bottom of the fjord at Seyðisfjörður, in a depth between 22 and 45 metres, lying more or less completely upright. It is one of the most popular diving spots in Iceland.[8]

The wreck continued to leak oil up until the 2000s, when a Norwegian contractor was hired to dispose of the estimated 2,000 tonnes of oil remaining in the ship, which was carried out in 2002.[9] At the same time, unexploded ordnance was also to be removed from the ship. The Icelandic Coast Guard, however, assumed that many of the more accessible shells had already been removed by scuba divers.[2]

El Grillo beer[edit]

Eyþór Þórisson, a restaurant owner in Seyðisfjörður, begun brewing a beer after his own recipe in the mid-2000s which he named after the sunken tanker El Grillo. The front label of the bottle features a picture of the sinking ship while the back side label tells the story of the sinking of the tanker.[8]


  1. ^ a b SS El Grillo, accessed: 17 June 2011
  2. ^ a b c Search and Clearance of Explosive Ordnance from SS El Grillo Icelandic Coast Guard website, published: 26 March 2002, accessed: 17 June 2011
  3. ^ a b C.T. Bowring & Company / Red Cross Line The ship list, accessed: 17 June 2011
  4. ^ Gunnar Karlsson, A Brief History of Iceland, published: 2000, page: 59-59, accessed: 17 June 2011
  5. ^ Google language translation: El Grillo accessed: 17 June 2011
  6. ^ 10.2.1944 – Nordmeer (German) Württembergische Landesbibliothek website, accessed: 17 June 2011
  7. ^ EL GRILLO (Wreck), accessed: 17 June 2011
  8. ^ a b Sink This Beer The Reykjavík Grapevine, published: 7 September 2007, accessed: 17 June 2011
  9. ^ El Grillo – Wreck diving in Iceland at its best, accessed: 17 June 2011

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 65°09′N 13°36′W / 65.15°N 13.60°W / 65.15; -13.60