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Barbacena seen as former Gudrun. Photo

Built 1909

Tonnage 4,772 tons

Cargo: 5,000 tons including coffee, castor oil, fibers and beans

Sunk 28 Jul 42 by U-155 on pos 13º10'N 56º00'W

6 Dead including 3 gunners

55 Survivors

Merchant Barbacena from Brazilian Lloyd, ex German Gudrun was built 1909, with 4,772 gross tons of registries. She was seized by Brazilian government when moored at Recife in World War I, 1917. In the occasion of the torpedoing she was under Master Aecio Cunha. In the early hours of July 28th 1942, Barbacena was enroute for New York outbound from Recife when was struck by 2 torpedoes fired within seconds interval at 01:30 pm, under a starred sky. The first impact hit the bow keel and the second portside amidships. Flames, smoke and a strong smelling of sulphur engulfed the radio room.

Amidst initial confusion, the second mate tried reach the alarm blaring: 3 short whistles, but far from reaching necessary pressure the system rendered inoperative. Seriously struck, the ship began sinking bow first. The stern raised steep in almost vertical and within 15 minutes the tragedy was consumed, giving no time for any of the crewmembers to devise the assailant. In the occasion, winds blew moderate but sea were rough with white crests. Part of the crew boarded one lifeboat under the supervision of the second mate and steered for Santa Lucia, they deemed not so far from the site.

Sea crests did not subside added by unfavorable winds when already daylight another course was steered, this time to reach Tobago. Keeping a constant course until 12:30pm in the following day, 29th, when reckoned they were 20 miles off that British possession. Meanwhile as the sea went rougher added to almost gale like winds, the second mate decided to spend the night bordering the islands waiting for sunrise.

At 06:00am July 31st the lighthouse was sighted and 2 hours later the exhausted men beached. Another group in the #1 lifeboat, got adrift for 37 long hours when was located by British tanker S. Fabian, which picked them up. S Fabian had suspended Port of Spain in the previous day. Lifeboat #4 with 10 survivors went adrift for 22 hours was sighted and the men were picked up by British cargo Elmdale enroute to Port of Spain and proceeding from South Africa. The last lifeboat was finally sighted and picked up by Argentinean tanker Pocitos that landed them at Recife.  54 crewmembers out of 56 survived. 4 sailors were as gunners and only one managed to escape.



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