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Description

The APAPA was an Abosso class ship built and launched 1914-1915 for the Elder Dempster Company. This company had extensive assets involved in maritime shipping to and from West Africa. The APAPA was one of the largest and fastest ship in their extensive fleet.

Departing from Lagos with 119 passengers, the APAPA made her way under an escort of 6 destroyers towards the Welsh Coast. When this was reached the escort departed for Milford Haven, leaving APAPA and her fellow convoy ships to proceed alone.

Losing contact with the other ships, APAPA zigzagged, as per anti-submarine procedures, and rounded the Skerries. Weather conditions on the 28 November 1917 included a heavy swell, with a westerly wind. With Anglesey’s ‘Middle Mouse’ island off her starboard bow, APAPA was 2 miles NNW off Point Lynas at 13/1/2 knots when she was hit by a German K.III ‘Eva’ torpedo on her starboard side towards the stern. The German captain- Heinrich Jeß of U-96 ─had sighted the ship’s high promenade too late as it bore down on his U-Boat, misjudging the ship’s speed as 8 knots and firing it too far aft, and his crew did not expect the torpedo to do any serious damage due to its inaccuracy.

Later asserting that he could not ascertain if the first torpedo had done damage due to underestimating the ship’s speed, with a crew low on morale and eager for a sinking, Jeß fired a second torpedo. This impacted further forward. Lifeboats were being lowered into the water by this time, and the explosion destroyed No.9 boat and maimed passengers in others.

As the ship listed, the funnel’s supports came loose, and it fell on top of a fully laden No.5 lifeboat before it could be lowered into the water. Boat 3 was trapped in the ship’s wireless wires, with still others caught in the suction.

The ship then quickly disappeared beneath the surface.

This item was brought to the attention of the U-Boat Project 1914-18 by Jon Shaw, Amlwch, who kindly allowed us to share it.

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