Kassandra Louloudis Torpedoed off U.S. Coast
By James Donahue
Few people realize that German submarines were sinking ships right off the Atlantic coast of the United
States during World War II. It was something that did not make newspaper headlines, for obvious security reasons. But it happened.
Among the victims of these attacks was the freighter Kassandra Louloudis, flying a Greek flag, as
it was steaming in an unprotected convoy with other ships just off the coast of North Carolina in March, 1942.
The ship, under the command of Themistokles Mitias, was steaming from New York south along the coast,
bound for Panama with a cargo of war materials bound for the Pacific theater. She was maintaining radio silence and following
the standard zig-zag course making it difficult for submarines to attack, as it approached the Diamond Shoals off Cape Hatteras.
The Kasandra was traveling in an informal grouping of ships that included the tankers Acme and Gulf
Dawn. Captain Mitlas said he was on the bridge, watching the Acme, when suddenly the stem of the Acme exploded. Within minutes
the radioman on the freighter received a distress call from the Acme. The ship had been struck by a torpedo and was sinking.
The crew was abandoning ship.
It was a busy coastal area and Captain Mitlas gambled that the submarine commander dashed out to sea
after striking the tanker so close to shore. He turned toward the stricken tanker in an attempt to rescue survivors. The Kassandra
arrived in the area about an hour later at about the time the Coast Guard Cutter Dione was arriving. Two other tankers were
steaming up behind the Kassandra and a third vessel was arriving from the south. Also the destroyer, USS Dickerson, was closing
in. There was good reason for Mitlas to feel his ship was safe.
With all that help the Kassandra chose to leave the area. Mitlas turned south again until his vessel
cleared the Diamond Shoals light buoy, then turned west and set a speed of ten knots. There was a haze the clouded visibility
so the skipper was on the lookout for other ships in the area. Suddenly a lookout spotted the shadow of a periscope in the
water, about 100 yards off the port bow. Almost at the same time, Mitlas saw the frothing wake of a torpedo coming toward
He ordered the Kassandra turned hard to starboard and the torpedo barely missed the bow. Then Mitlas
saw a second torpedo coming right at his ship. It struck the Kassandra on the port side, forward between the Number 2 hold
and the bunker hatch, and three feet below the water line. There was a big explosion and the ship immediately listed 40 degrees
Mitlas ordered "abandon ship" and succeeded in getting his entire crew of 35 safely off the ship and
into lifeboats before it sank. The Dione picked up the survivors of both the Kassandra and the Acme.
The two vessels were attacked by U-124, commanded by Johann Mohr. Unknown to the skippers of the two
stricken ships, Mohr’s sub had been lurking in that area for days, and had claimed at least three other vessels prior
to sinking the Acme and Kassandra.
The Kassandra was launched in England as the War Lurcher in 1919, but then was completed by a Dutch
firm as the Bondowoso. She was sold to the Greek shipping company and renamed Kassandra Louloudis in 1936.
The wreck rests in an upright position, with a list to one side, in 70 feet of water. It is a favorite
visiting spot for sports divers.