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Photo Shipping Company Fritzen.
Built 1920
Tonnage 6,594 / 11,000 dwt   
Length 428,0 ft.
Beam 55,10 ft.
Draught 28,0 ft.
Cargo: Ballast   
Scuttled 4 SEP 39 off the coast of Uruguay in position 34º19'S, 48º29'W to avoid capture by Light Cruiser HMNZS Achilles.   

43 survivors were rescued including 33 Germans being 9 Officers. 10 neutrals were sent home on 10th September. German crewmembers were sent to captivity at Falklands Is, however on late December they were transferred to a prison camp at South Africa along with 107 other prisoners from sunken ship Ussukuma scuttled off the mouth of River Plate Argentina on 5th December 1939.

Carl Fritzen was used on the tramp voyage. At the beginning of 1939 the ship was at the port of Rotterdam for some repair work. After this was completed the ship was able to leave the port on August 10, 1939 with destination to Buenos Aires. In Germany little was known initially about this ship, actually only that the crew consisted of 43 men being 33 of the German Reich. The rest was nine Dutch and one Dane. Nothing further was known and no report was received from German embassy in Buenos Aires. It therefore had to be assumed that the Carl Fritzen was still on its way to its port of destination in order to carry out orders that would bring in foreign currency in accordance with the special instructions and then to take on another cargo there for the returns voyage.

But the ship had already met a tragic end in the first days of the war. People in Berlin only found out about this on September 5, 1939, through a report from the British radio station Daventry. This said: The steamer Carl Fritzen from the Company Fritzen & Sohne was sunk. The crew is safe. A month later, on 3 October 1939, The Federal Political Department in Berne wrote the following letter to the German Embassy in Switzerland. With reference to the estimated verbal note of September 18th regarding the German steamer Carl Fritzen, the Federal Department, Department for foreign interests, has the honor to inform the German Embassy that there was no shortage to ask the Swiss Embassy in London to take the desired steps in this matter. The embassy there received a copy of the attached letter dated September 26th from the Foreign Office on this matter. The political department would be grateful to the German Embassy if it would kindly pass on the information contained therein to those interested. The Department also uses this occasions to assure the Embassy of this expressed respect.    

Data kindly provided by Ken Deshaies.

Above, the list of German crewmembers captured by HMS Ajax.

Above, letter from  "Falkland Islands Defence Regulation Order for Detention and Control of Enemy Subjects issued by the Island's Governor regarding the transfer of 140 Germans from Carl Fritzen and Ussukuma to Bavianspoort Camp near Simonstown.

HMS Achilles was one of the most active ships of the Royal Navy in south Atlantic having a decisive role in the battle of the River Plate.





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