SS Hansa (1899)

Company registration number: 3542

The Hansa was a 1899 put into service passenger ship in the Swedish shipping company Ångfartygs AB Gotland, the transported passengers and cargo for 45 years in a regular scheduled service between Stockholm and Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. On 24 November 1944, the unarmed Hansa was torpedoed by the Soviet submarine L 21 before Gotland and sank within minutes. Only two of the 86 people on board survived the disaster.

The ship

The steamship Hansa was built in 1899 by the shipyard William Lindberg in Stockholm for the resident in Visby on Gotland shipping Ångfartygs AB Gotland. Their design was inspired by the a luxury yacht. In the dining room 40 guests had space. The cabins and common rooms were paneled with mahogany and walnut and fitted with brass works and round skylights.

Throughout their period of service, the Hansa was used in passenger traffic between Stockholm and Visby. But in the 1930s they ran also ports of Gdansk, Tallinn and Riga.

Due to renovations in 1904, the hull of the Hansa extended from 41.9 to 47.9 m, whereby the volume of originally 475 GRT increased to 563 GRT.

In autumn 1944 there was no more merchant shipping between Sweden and Germany, which is why Soviet submarines had no hostile targets more.


On Thursday, November 23, 1944 put the Hansa in Stockholm at another crossing to Visby where it should arrive the next morning at 07.30 clock. On board were 23 crew members and 63 passengers, the command was Captain Martin Klinberg. She was booked on this trip. From a south-easterly direction, strong winds crossed the course of the Hansa, also there was high waves.

To 00.55 clock in the morning on November 24 passed the Hansa the Lighthouse of country location. The ship was brightly lit, also the Swedish flag was clearly visible. Due to the heavy seas the Hansa drove at a speed of only eight nodes. To 05.57 clock the ship was before Nynäshamn on the coast of Södermanland, when a violent explosion rocked the ship. The Hansa stopped then. Glass shattered everywhere, some passengers started to scream and the Hansa got a clear list. As the passengers came on deck, they could see that the entire bow off by the explosion and the bridge was completely destroyed. High waves lashed against the lifeboat stations and spray washed over the deck. Many passengers jumped overboard in their panic.

The Hansa sank within minutes. Only two people, the Third Officer Arne Thuresson and the passenger Arne Mohlin, survived the sinking. They climbed on a life raft and waited for hours in the icy water.

An hour after sunset, dawn heard the two men motor noise, and finally discovered a Douglas DC -3, which they made for themselves with a Notrakete. The aircraft conducted the two Swedish minesweepers Landsort and Arholma to the shipwrecked, they finally took up and brought to Visby. The two men later testified, the submarine was the scene of the accident still searched for some time after the sinking with searchlights.

After the sinking of the Hansa all ships of the line with target Gotland was provided an escort in the form of destroyers and minesweepers available.

The submarine

Later investigations revealed that the Soviet submarine L was 21 of Stalinez class under the command of Captain S. Mogilevskij the attacker. The submarine had already found nearly two weeks at sea at this time.

Mogilevskij had spotted the ship at 04.00 clock in the morning of November 24 and, although it was characterized as a Swedish ship and drove in Swedish waters, considered as a legitimate aim. In the logbook, he noted that the ship was steaming on the usual route that was used by merchant ships, the raw materials brought to Germany. He gave his submarine then on alert and had put it in position for an above-water attack.

The first three torpedoes went into space, only the fourth hit the steamer at the bow below the first pole. Then took L 21 course to Turku ( Finland).

The wreck

The wreck of the Hansa in 1988 found Belus from the ships and Altair of the Swedish Navy Diving Center. It is around 100 m depth. The bow is 30 meters behind the main part of the hull. The wreck was investigated by means of a Remotely Operated Vehicle ( remotely operated vehicle ).