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Built: 1938

Tonnage: 6,199 / 8,820 tons

Cargo:  2.500 tons of maize, 1.150 tons of chromium and 2.600 tons of wattle bark

Route: Durban - Freetown - Liverpool

Sunk 03 MAY 40 by raider Atlantis on pos.  20º 00” S 04º 30” E

3 Dead

76 POW

Having spotted a freighter off the coast of Portuguese West Africa, Rogge altered course to intercept and approached her at top speed. Seemingly unnoticed, he closed to within 10,000 metres, dropped his disguise, ordered his gunners to line up on the radio room, and ran up his battle flag. Signalling ‘Heave to or I fire!’ and ‘Do not use your wireless!’, he was astonished to see the Allied vessel make no response whatsoever and continue on her way.

Two 75mm warning shots across the bow produced a bizarre flag signal saying ‘Half’, but no discernable reduction in speed, prompting Rogge to order two shots from his 150mm main armament. Making as if to comply with the raider’s signals, the freighter suddenly altered course and made off at top speed, followed immediately by another 155mm salvo which struck her stern, causing massive damage and starting a fire.

When a further salvo struck the ship amidships causing more serious damage and starting an even larger fire, Rogge ordered a cease fire to enable the crew of the stricken vessel to surrender and abandon ship, but almost immediately, her radio operator began to transmit a QQQ signal, causing him to resume firing.

As four more heavy salvos were fired at the now frantically signalling freighter, with one bringing the radio mast down, and another setting the cargo on fire, her captain finally brought her to a halt, and boats were lowered.

The boarding party, Adjutant Mohr, demolition officer, Leutnant Johann Fehler, a prize officer and nine armed sailors swarming over the rails of the elderly vessel, identified her as the 6,199-ton British T.J.Harrison & Co. steamer, Scientist.

En route from Durban to Liverpool via Freetown, she was carrying a mixed cargo of 2,500 tons of maize, 1,150 tons of chromium, copper bars, asbestos, zinc concentrate, flour, jute, hides and 2,600 tons of tanning bark.  Despite the seacocks being opened, and Fehler’s 40-pound scuttling charges, attached to the bulkheads between the engine room and the fore and aft holds, detonating, the vessel settled very slowly, and was soon burning so furiously as to be visible for miles.

In order to avoid attracting attention, Rogge ordered Kasch to sink her with 150mm gunfire, but when even that failed, she was sunk by a torpedo.  While two members of her crew had lost their lives, with another dying later on the Atlantis, the surviving seventy-six, including her radio operator who had to have splinters removed by the Rogge’s doctors, settled into their new life in his prisoner accomodation.

By Hilfskreuzer (Auxiliary Cruiser / Raider) - Atlantis (



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