A Bizarre Sinking

I’ve been testing Mal’s rules for playing Convoy based games from World War II that use General Quarters 3 to handle the ship on ship actions. Because of that, I was looking at various convoys historically, including the Arctic Convoys and the runs to Gibraltar. I was also looking at some of the JT convoys (off South America) and the losses there. There was a Brazilian Mine Layer sunk in a storm in 1944 whilst escorting a convoy. That is not the bizarre sinking though. I then looked at all Brazilian warship losses in World War II and there was one other.

This was the light cruiser Bahia. She was built originally by Armstrong Whitworth in the UK and was completed in 1910 – before World War I.

In July 1945 she was stationed centrally in the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Africa. She was tasked with search and rescue in this area, retrieving crew from downed aircraft flying between Europe and the Pacific.

On 4 July 1945 she was engaged in testing her 20mm anti-aircraft guns and crew. This was usually done by towing a kite to the rear of the ship as she sailed. The gunner was good though and shot down the kite. Rather than stop firing however he kept firing on the kite following it all the way down as it descended. Unfortunately, as he depressed the gun further some 20mm rounds hit a rack of depth charges on the fantail of the vessel. These exploded and the ship sank within 3 minutes.

The ship literally shot itself down with anti-aircraft fire and therefore ranks as one of the more bizarre vessel losses in World War II – perhaps rating with the vessel that is supposed to have torpedoed itself.

294 crew perished before the Rio Grande do Sul, her sister ship, arrived on station and rescued the survivors.

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