british China Navigation Co. Ltd. SS Shuntien (II) [+1941]
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nationality british
purpose transport
type passenger/cargo ship
propulsion steam turbine
date built 1934
is nickname no
weight (tons) 3059  grt
dimensions 95.7 x 14 x 9.4 m
material steel
engine steam turbine
armament armed merchantship
speed 12  knots
yard no. 264
call sign
about the loss
cause lost torpedo
date lost 23/12/1941  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  850~1100rank: 104
about people
Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering Co.
engine by
Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering Co.
China Navigation Co. Ltd., London
captain Shinn, William L.
complement 18
no. of crew 70
about the wreck
depth (m.) 110 max. / -- min. (m)
war grave
entered by Lettens Jan
entered 28/08/2008
last update Vleggeert Nico
last update 01/08/2012
Lettens Jan26/01/2011
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Lettens Jan26/01/2011SHUNTIEN

Owned by the China Nav. Co. and built in 1934 by Taikoo Dock & Engineering Co.; 3,059 tons; 303.7x46.1x31.3 ft.; turbine engines.

The British steamship Shuntien, on a voyage from Tobruk to Alexandria with 800~1000 prisoners of war on board, was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-559 on December 23rd, 1941.

The captain, four officers and the chief steward were killed on board. Many of the prisoners were picked up by HMS Salvia which was herself torpedoed by U-568 and sunk shortly afterwards
Lettens Jan26/01/2011Shuntien was a China coaster, surviving the massive 1937 typhoon in Hong Kong when she was blown ashore.

She was taken over by the British Government during World War II and torpedoed and sunk while transporting up to 1,000 German and Italian PoWs off Tobruk.

Most, including Captain W.L. Shinn were lost, never having seen the triplets his wife gave birth to in Hong Kong.

Ironically the U-boat commander was awarded the Knight’s Cross for his exploits – but probably before the Shuntien’s human cargo was made known...
Lettens Jan26/01/2011On 23 Dec, 1941, HMS Salvia (LtCdr John Isdale Miller DSO DSC) was escorting the convoy TA-5 (Tobruk to Alexandria) when Shuntien was sunk by U-559 (Heidtmann). The Shuntien carried 850 prisoners of war and the Salvia stayed behind to collect survivors but was not seen again, only oil and wreckage was found by HMS Peony (K 40) about 100 miles west of Alexandria.

At 01.35 hours on 24 December, U-568 had fired a spread of four torpedoes at HMS Salvia, which was hit by one of them and broke in two. The stern part sank rapidly while burning oil covered the sea and the fore part followed after a few minutes.

All four officers and 54 ratings were lost together with the master, 47 crew members and an unknown number of gunners and prisoners from the Shuntien.
Lettens Jan28/08/2008UK hydro member
ref. used: 
 UK Hydrographic Office

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