SS Oria (1920)
|Owner:||Fearnley & Eger, Oslo|
|Builder:||Osbourne, Graham & Co., Ltd., Sunderland|
|Fate:||Sank, 12 February 1944|
|Length:||86.9 m (285 ft 1 in)|
|Beam:||13.3 m (43 ft 8 in)|
|Propulsion:||1 × triple expansion steam engine|
|Speed:||10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
SS Oria was a Norwegian steamboat that sank on 12 February 1944, causing the death of some 4,095 Italian prisoners of war 21 Greeks and 15 Germans. This was one of the worst maritime disasters ever, probably the fourth worst loss of life caused by the sinking of a single ship in the world and the worst in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Oria was built in 1920 by Osbourne, Graham & Co from Sunderland. It had a tonnage of 2,127 GRT, and was property of the Norwegian company Fearnley & Eger of Oslo. At the beginning of World War II, it was part of a convoy sent to North Africa, and was in Casablanca when interned in June 1940, shortly after the German occupation of Norway. One year later the ship was requisitioned by the Vichy French, renamed Sainte Julienne, and used in the Mediterranean. In November 1942 it was formally returned to its former owner and therefore renamed Oria, but soon after it was assigned to the German company Mittelmeer-Reederei GmbH from Hamburg.
In the fall of 1943, after the German invasion of the Dodecanese, the Germans had to transfer tens of thousands of Italian prisoners over the sea. These transfers were made often using unseaworthy vessels, cramming prisoners into the hull of the ships, and without any safety standard. Several ships sank, by allied attack or by accident, causing the death of thousands of prisoners.
The Oria was one of the vessels chosen to transport Italian prisoners. On 11 February 1944, it sailed from Rhodes directly to Piraeus, carrying 4,116 Italian prisoners (43 officers, 118 non-commissioned officers and 3,955 soldiers), 21 Germans on duty or en route, and the crew of 22 Greeks. The next day the ship was caught by a storm and sank off Cape Sounion on the South East rocks of Patroklos island. Some tugs, arriving the next day on the scene, could only save 21 Italians, 6 Germans, the Norvegian captain and one Greek.The remains of the wreck were discovered in 1999 by Greek pro diver Aristotelis Zervoudis who for his actions was awarded by the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella the distinction of the Knight of the Italian Star Order (Cavaliere del'Ordine della Stella d' Italia),the highest distinction Italy can award to foreign citizens.
- Battle of Rhodes (1943)
- Italian military internees
- Italian ship Gaetano Donizetti
- Italian ship Mario Roselli
- Massacre of the Acqui Division
- Lawson, Siri. "D/S Oria". warsailors.com. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
- "IL NAUFRAGIO DELL'ORIA" [THE WRECK OF ORIA]. dodecaneso.org (in Italian). Retrieved 30 November 2012.