The Wilhelm Gustloff was a German cruise ship that was used as part as a means of evacuating refugees from Gotenhafen (today Gdynia) in January 1945.

The Wikipedia article reads:

The ship left Danzig at 12:30 pm on 30 January 1945, accompanied by the passenger liner Hansa, also filled with civilians and military personnel, and two torpedo boats. Hansa and one torpedo boat developed mechanical problems and could not continue, leaving Wilhelm Gustloff with one torpedo boat escort, Löwe.

I am trying to find the name of the torpedo boat that developed mechanical problems and stayed behind with the Hansa, while the Löwe and the Wilhelm Gustloff headed off to their demise.

Can anyone help me?

1 Answer 1


The first point to note is that the Löwe was actually a destroyer, not a torpedo boat. She was originally a Sleipner-class destroyer, HNoMS Gyller, captured by Germany in 1940, and renamed Löwe.

The Germans renamed captured small destroyers, like the the Norwegian Sleipner-class, and large torpedo boats 'Torpedoboot Ausland' when they were incorporated into the Kriegsmarine.

However regular German torpedo boats, built after 1935, were simply given a designation 'T' followed by a number (like, for example, T21 - the torpedo boat that rescued survivors from the Wilhelm Gustloff).

The other escort vessel was also not actually a torpedo boat, but the Torpedo Recovery Boat ('Torpedofangboote') TF1.

The TF1 reported that a weld had burst open in heavy seas and returned to port with the Hansa [M/S Wilhelm Gustloff Final Voyage: Survivor, Missing, & Dead Lists, originally published in Die Gustloff Katastrophe by Heinz Schön].

  • The Sleipner-class ships were classed as destroyers by the Norwegians, but as torpedo boats by the Germans. They were rather small for destroyers by Kreigsmarine WWII standards, hence the difference, Apr 28, 2019 at 16:03
  • @JohnDallman True, but regular German torpedo boats were generally given a designation T followed by a number, like T21 (the torpedo boat that rescued survivors from the Wilhelm Gustloff). In context, the distinction seems important. Apr 28, 2019 at 16:09
  • @JohnDallman: The designation used by the Norwegians for the Sleipner class was "torpedojager". Note that the Royal Navy / US Navy class designations were by no means universal, and every Navy had its own ideas as to where one class ended and the other began.
    – DevSolar
    Sep 4, 2019 at 6:53
  • (Above comment tagged for John Dallman, but actually just the same for sempaiscuba -- the emphasis on the ship being "actually a destroyer" isn't quite true.)
    – DevSolar
    Sep 4, 2019 at 7:02

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