Forgotten sinking of Refugee Ships MV Goya and MV Steuben

Hospital Ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff
Refugee Ship MV Goya
Refugee Ship MV Steuben
The worlds second worst maritime tragedy was the Soviet sinking of the German transport ship MV Goya. The sinking of this vessel shares many similarities with the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff and Steuben. The German Kriegsmarine scraped up whatever ships they could and sought to evacuate civilians and wounded soldiers. MV Goya was one such refugee ship. On April 16 1945 she was part of a convoy sailing away from the Hel Peninsula and crossing the Baltic Sea on the way to Germany. Goya was overloaded with civilian refugees and wounded soldiers. Records show there were 6,100 passengers listed, but it is thought many more hundreds of people were crammed aboard, using every space available. As the convoy was moving out of Danziger Bay, they were tracked by a Soviet L-3 submarine. The captain, Konovalov, gave the order to fire on the Goya at 11:52 PM. As the ship sunk in the frigid waters, between 6,000-7,000 refugees drowned or died of hypothermia in the icy waters of the Baltic Sea. Over the next few weeks, thousands of bodies washed up on nearby shores. The sinking of the refugee ship MV Goya was one of the worst ship disasters of all time. With a death toll near 7,000, it is the second deadliest disaster in recorded maritime history. She now rests not far from the wreck of the Hospital Ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff. The captain of the submarine who triggered one of the greatest maritime disasters - Captain Vladimir Konstantinovich Konovalov was rewarded with the highest Soviet military decoration available. He was given the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. 158 other merchant vessels were lost during the 15-week course of Operation Hannibal. Incidents like this are still relatively unknown to the world.
On February 9 1945, the German luxury passenger liner MV Steuben sailed from Pillau in the bay of Danzig for Swinemünde. East Prussian refugees headed west, away from the city of Königsberg and ahead of the Soviet Red Army's advance into the Baltic states and East Prussia. The Steuben was in the fleet of ships sent for the purpose. On board were 2,800 wounded soldiers, 800 civilian refugees and 270 navy medical personnel. Just after midnight, Captain Alexander Marinesko launched two torpedoes from his Soviet submarine S-13. Between three and four thousand people died in the sinking. About 300 survivors were saved by torpedo boat T-196 and brought to Kolberg. Soviet Captain Alexander Marinesko was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously, in May 1990. Images: Public domain.

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