Daily Event for March 10, 2010

The Kota Nopan was a 7,323 ton passenger/cargo ship built for Rotterdamsche Lloyd of the Netherlands in 1931. Being a typical small passenger ship her career was uneventful until the Second World War. Her last voyage under the Netherlands flag was taking her from Batavia to New York via the Panama Canal with a cargo of raw materials for the war effort, but she never arrived in the Canal Zone and was reported to have been sunk by a German raider. This report was published Sept. 12, 1941. The report was half right, Kota Nopan was not going to show up, but she had not been sunk.

On Aug. 17 she was off the Galapagos Islands when she came within range of an unidentified ship with Japanese markings. Capt. Hatenboer ordered his ship to swing around and make all speed away from the ship, the unidentified ship pursued him, raised the Kriegsmarine ensign and opened fire. The gunners on Kota Nopan fired back, but the raider was out of range, following several more shots from the raider, none of which hit the ship, and clearly being unable to outrun her, Hatenboer ordered his ship to stop and surrender.

He disposed of the code books and other important papers by dropping them over the side in a weighted box and waited to be boarded, he soon learned the ship was the Hilfskreuzer Komet (Schiff 16). The commander of Komet, Kapitän zur See Robert Eyssen found the ship he had stopped was quite valuable to the Reich as she was carrying tin, rubber and manganese ore, in fact the cargo was insured for $1,000,000 in the U.S.A. Germany was in need of the material in this ship, but as she was bound for New York she did not carry enough fuel to make the return to France so Eyssen contacted his superiors. He was sent to the Tuamote archipeligo to rendezvous with the Atlantis and the supply ship Münsterland.

Komet and Kota Nopan, now a prison ship carrying her 51 man crew and 42 crewmen from the Australand (captured and sunk Aug. 14) and 144 crewmen from the Devon (captured and sunk Aug. 19) arrived at the prearranged position on Sept. 24. After supplies were divided and the ships refueled, they departed and headed for Bordeaux, Kota Nopan arrived at that port on Nov. 17, 1941. The crews were taken to POW camps and the ship was renamed Karin, her next roll was a blockade runner for the Reich.

She made one round trip to Japan and was on her second when she was located through the help of Ultra. The U.S. Navy was searching for blockade runners and raiders when on March 10, 1943 an aircraft from USS Santee CVE-29 located a lone ship between Racife, Brazil and Ascension Island, the pilot radioed his position and two ships, USS Savannah CL-42 and USS Eberle DD-430 broke off from their task group and made top speed toward the target. Under the command of Rear Admiral Oliver M. Read, USN, Savannah and Eberle closed at 31 knots and when in range fired warning shots. With two warships, one being a well armed cruiser, the captain and crew of Karin had no chance and they knew it.

The crew set the scuttling charges, started the ship on fire and abandoned her before the American ships could get alongside. Fourteen men from Eberle were sent aboard Karin to recover what ever papers they could, while they were aboard the charges went off resulting in the deaths of nine of the men, even after this some material was recovered before Karin went down, all seventy-two of the men from Karin were taken prisoner and put aboard Savannah.

Quite a career, passenger service for the Netherlands, cargo transport service to help the Allied war effort, prison ship and cargo transport for the German war effort, captured once nearly recaptured a second time finally blown up by her crew.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Kota Nopan, date and location unknown.

Roll of Honor
In memory of the crewmen of USS Eberle DD-430 who lost their lives in MV Karin
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Buckley, Dennis J.
Fireman 1st Class
Davis, Wilbur G.
Fireman 2nd Class
Diachecko, Alex M.
Watertender 2nd Class
Jones, William J.
Fireman 1st Class
Metivier, Joseph E. H.
Myers, Merton B.
Machinist's Mate 1st Class
Pattison, William J.
Signalman 3rd Class
Shockley, Robert M.
Carpenter's Mate 1st Class
Tinsman, Carl W.
Seaman 2nd Class

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