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Owner: A/S Mabella
Built in Danzig, Germany 1926.
Captain: Albert J. Svendsen
Mabella departed Colombo, Ceylon on March 10-1942 in ballast for Calcutta. Shelled, torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-164 (Ogawa) off the coast of Coromandel near Madras (14N 81 47E) at about 18:10 ship's time (12:10 GMT) on March 13-1942. Her engine was stopped right after the first shell flew over them, but the shelling continued, this time hitting the ship in several places and to those on board it appeared as if the object was to kill as many as possible. Most of them jumped overboard after having released the raft on the foredeck. The port boat was lowered by the 1st mate, the 1st engineer and 2 British gunners who had come onboard in Colombo in order to serve Mabella's machine guns. The starboard lifeboat was launched by the 2nd mate who was on duty on the bridge when the attack started, the captain and a Chinese quartermaster. The 2nd and 3rd engineers had not yet reached the boat deck and had to jump overboard from the midships deck. They were subsequently picked up by the starboard boat as were a number of Chinese crew who had also jumped overboard. Before and during the launching of the boats a grenade exploding in the foredeck killed at least 1 man there, another exploded in the saloon and the pantry where the steward was killed, one hit the bridge deck where one of the trimmers was killed, and one in the after deck, killing 2 men.
After the lifeboats had gotten clear of the ship the firing stopped for a while, and the sub changed position. Some of the crew members were in the water near the raft, and in order to reach them the lifeboats had to row towards the sub, which continued firing at the ship, but not at the lifeboats. When all the survivors had been picked up, 6 Chinese were found to be missing, the starboard boat had 2 severely injured men and 1 with minor shrapnel injuries, while the port boat had 1 severely injured. They were given first aid the best they could with the supplies available. The sub submerged after having fired a total of 12 shells and did not surface again until after Mabella had sunk following an enormous explosion (from a torpedo). About 30 minutes had passed since the attack began.
The boats then set sail in a westerly direction towards the coast. The next morning, March 14 a ship was seen in the horizon heading north. As it came closer they sent up some flares and a couple of hours later they were picked up by the British S/S Tanfield, bound for Vizagapatam (later Vizagapatnam, in the Bay of Bengal), where the survivors were landed the following afternoon. The injured were taken to a hospital, while the rest had to remain on board until the next day, March 16.
Maritime hearings were held in Calcutta on March 23-1942 with the captain, the 1st mate, and the 1st engineer appearing.
Position given by Charles Hocking is simply "about 150 miles northeast of Madras".
Partial Crew List:
Related external link:
Back to Mabella on the "Ships starting with M" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume II, and misc. (ref. My sources).