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28)ZAANDAM U-174



Built: 1939

Tonnage: 10,909 / 10,150 tons

Cargo: 7,000 tons Copper and Chrome ore, 600 tons general cargo

Route: Beira - Capetown - New York 

Sunk 2 Nov 42 by U-174 on pos  01º25'N 36º22'W

135 Dead

164 Survivors

Completed in May 1930 as German Bitterfeld for Hamburg-Amerika Linie (HAPAG), Hamburg. On 10 May, 1940, seized by the Netherlands at Padang and renamed Mariso.

The unescorted Zaandam was hit by a torpedo at 18h17 and her engine room was flooded. 10 minutes later a second torpedo strucked the ship and she sank in less than two minutes. On board were 130 crew members and Armed Guards and 169 passengers (mostly crew members and Armed Guards of the four American merchants Coloradan, Examelia, Chicksaw City, Swiftsure and the Panamanian Firethorn).

Lifeboat #2 which had overturned upon launching was righted by several survivors in the water. When it was righted they found the bodies of the Chief Engineer of the Zaandam (Ebbeler) and a Javanese crew member of the Zaandam. The men climbed into the boat and proceeded to pick up survivors in the water and from rafts in the vicinity until there were 60 persons aboard.

They continued to search until no more could be found. Supplies of water and other items were transferred from the rafts to the boats. The boat itself had been damaged and leaked in several places. There were many attempts to secure the leaks but it was necessary to bail the boat continuously.

The boat, under the command of W. Broekhof, a 2nd Mate on the Zaandam, made a landfall on November 10th after many days of bad weather and other ships passing them by without stopping. They landed in the area of Rio Preguiças near the town of Barreirinhas, Brazil. Shortly after landing two men died. They were Laurence Olsen, an A.B. from the Swiftsure and Seitze Stenekes, an A.B. from Zaandam.

They were later buried in Barreirinhas. With the help of a local fisherman, Broekhof and Captain Matthews of the Swiftsure sailed a boat to the village of Pharo. Finding no one there to help, Captain Matthews went back to the beach and Broekhof borrowed a horse and rode to the nearest police station.

From there he informed the British Consul in the town of Parnaiba, Brazil of the situation. The British Consul notified the American Consul in Belem. He made arrangements to have the survivors picked up from the beach and taken to Sao Luis, Brazil where they were hospitalized. After leaving the hospital they were transported to Belem aboard the Norwegian freighter Banaderos. From Belem they were flown to New York via Miami.


                               83 DAYS ON A RAFT                       MS ZAANDAM SURVIVORS

A raft with 16 survivors aboard, unseen by the 3 lifeboats, was still floating in the area of the sinking. One of the 16 men, Cornelius Van Der Sloat, a 40-year-old Oiler from the Zaandam, sighted another raft empty of people. As the raft he was on was overcrowded, he jumped overboard and swam to the empty raft. Within the next two hours he was joined by three other survivors.

They were Ensign James Maddox, the 30-year-old Officer in charge of the Zaandam Armed Guard contingent.; George Beezely, a U.S. Navy Armed Guard from the SS Examelia; and Nicko Hoogendam, a 17-year-old A.B. from the M. V. Firethorn Basil Izzi, a 20-year-old U.S. Navy Armed Guard stationed aboard the Zaandam, had jumped overboard after the 2nd torpedo struck.

He had been clinging to various pieces of wreckage for nearly two days. Near the end of the 2nd day he spotted a raft with 4 men aboard. He swam to the raft and was pulled aboard. This made a total of five men on the raft. On the 60th day, Beezley became ill. In spite of the good care of the others he died on the 66th day. He was buried at sea with Ensign Maddox conducting the service. On the 73rd day, Maddox became ill and died. As the days passed, the situation became critical for the three survivors. On the 83rd day they heard the noise of an airplane engine.

The plane was seen but it disappeared later. At this time they lost hope that they had been seen. But on the next day, the 83rd, smoke was seen on the horizon. Soon a convoy was seen escorted by Navy ships. On board of one of the escorts, the PC 576, the raft was spotted by a lookout, Seaman 3c B. DeWitte. Soon the PC 576 was alongside the raft and took the 3 survivors aboard.

Van Der Sloat was the only one who could still stand and walk. They were fed liquid food for 2 days. They were landed at Pernambuco, Brazil where they spent 6 weeks in a hospital. They were then flown to Miami and then to the U.S. Navy hospital in Bethesda where they fully recovered. For having spotted the raft, Seaman DeWitte was promoted to S1c.


Aerial view of the village of Barreirinhas. A desert landscape. 

The boats #1 and #4 containing 106 survivors were picked up at 10h00 on 07/November by the US steam tanker Gulfstate (2 died later aboard). 4 badly wounded survivors were transferred to USS Winslow (DD 359) on the next day and were landed at Belem, Brazil. The damaged Boat #2 containing 60 survivors landed on 10/November near the town of Barreirinhas, state of Maranhão, Brazil where two men died of exposure and were later buried there.

A raft with 3 men (one from Firethorn and two from Zaandam) aboard was found after 84 days (!) by USS PC 576, one of the escorts of a convoy. They were fed with liquid food for 2 days and landed at Recife, where they spent 6 weeks in naval hospital. The Dutch master J.P. Wepster was lost with his ship. The picture above shows the miserable state the survivors were found.

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