Goya (ship)

Goya (ship)

The "Goya" was a German transport ship, carrying more than 6,000 mostly wounded Wehrmacht troops and civilians who were fleeing the Soviet army, which was sunk by a Soviet submarine in 1945. Most of the passengers drowned, and the sinking of the "Goya" was one of the biggest single-incident maritime losses of life of the war.

History of the ship

The "Goya" was originally built as a freighter by the Akers Mekanika Verksted shipyard in Oslo in 1940. The ship was 145 m (475.72 feet) long and 17.4 m (57.08 feet) wide, had a capacity of 5,230 GRT, and a top speed of 18 knots. Following the German occupation of Norway, the ship was seized by Germany and used as a troop transport. In the harbour of Memel (Klaipeda), it was used as a target for torpedo testing.

Fleeing the Red Army

In 1945, "Goya" was used as both a refugee ship and Wehrmacht troop transport, moving them from the Eastern Baltic to safety in the west. Contrary to popular mythology, the "Goya" was not a hospital ship while operating during Operation Hannibal. On 16 April 1945, the "Goya" was sailing from the Hel Peninsula, across the Baltic Sea to western Germany, overloaded with German troops and civilians fleeing from the Red Army, including 200 men of the 25th Panzer Regiment. The list of passengers documented 6,100 people on board, but it is possible that hundreds more boarded the ship, using every space available.


As the convoy passed the Hel peninsula at the exit of the Danziger bay, it was sighted by the Soviet minelayer submarine L-3 which also carried torpedoes. Even though the Goya was faster than submarines, the convoy was slowed by the engine problems of the Kronenfels which also required a 20 min stop for repairs. At around 23:52, the commander of "L-3", Captain Vladimir Konovalov, gave the order to fire.

Within seven minutes of being torpedoed, the "Goya", a freighter without the precautions of a passenger ship, sank to a depth of approximately 76 m, with the loss of more than 6,000 people killed outright, either within the ship, or outside by drowning and hypothermia in the icy waters. The exact number can probably never be determined. The captain of another Kriegsmarine ship mentioned a figure of 7-8,000 in his report. In total, only 183 passengers were saved from the water by M 256 and M 328, of which 9 died soon after. It is probably the second-worst maritime disaster by number of casualties inflicted on Germans during WWII (after the Wilhelm Gustloff).

Soviet Captain Konovalov was awarded the Soviet Union's highest military decoration, the title of "Hero of the Soviet Union" and later promoted to rear admiral.

Discovery of the wreck

On 26 August 2002, the wreck was discovered by Polish Technical diving divers Grzegorz Dominik and Michal Porada, who also salvaged the ship's compass.

Exactly 58 years after the sinking of the "Goya", the wreck was located on 16 April 2003 by an international expedition under the direction of Ulrich Restemeyer with the help of 3D-Sonar scanning. The position records of Goya's accompanying ships were found to be incorrect, probably made during a hasty escape. It turned out to be identical with „Wreck No. 88“ in Polish Navy maps. During the rediscovery, another, smaller ship had operated above the wreck, first thought to be fishermen, but when Restemeyer's "Fritz Reuter" came close, the ship, seemingly carrying divers, left.

The wreck lay at a depth of 76 m depth below the Baltic Sea and is in remarkably good condition, covered with nets. The engine has been to full speed. Survivors mourned the loss in a wreath laying ceremony.


* Fritz Brustat-Naval: "Unternehmen Rettung", Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg, 2001, ISBN 3-7822-0829-3
* Ernst Fredmann: "Sie kamen übers Meer - Die größte Rettungsaktion der Geschichte", Pfälzische Verlagsges., ISBN 3-88527-040-4
* Heinz Schön: "Ostsee '45", Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, 1995, ISBN 3-87943-856-0


* Shteinberg, Mark, "Evrei v voinakh tysiachiletii." Moscow, Jerusalem: Gesharim, 2005, p. 302.
* Williams, David, "Wartime Disasters at Sea", Patrick Stephens Limited, Nr. Yeovil, UK, 1997.

See also

* "Cap Arcona"
* "Wilhelm Gustloff"
* "Steuben"
* List of World War II ships
*"Armenia", sunk by Germans in November 1941, estimated over 5,000 deaths
* "Iosif Stalin"

External links

* [http://www.wracktauchen-ostsee.de/seiten/goya.html The expedition searching for the wreck of the Goya] between the 12 – 22 April 2003 with the MS Fritz Reuter and an MDR-Team (in German)

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