SS Managua sunk off Key West by U-67 under Günther Müller-Stöckheim, 15 June 1942

             The 2,220-ton Nicaraguan steamer Managua was built by Albina Engine & Machinery Works, Incorporated of Portland Oregon in 1919. The ship’s dimensions were 88.1 meters long and 13.4 meters wide. Here single engine drove her at 12 knots.

          The Managua’s first owners were the United States Government, who named her Glorieta and sold her in 1920 to the Munson Steamship Line of New York, who renamed her Munisla. Between 1937 and 1941 the ship was flagged to Nicaragua and owned and operated by the Garcia Lines. From 1941 until her attack by U-67 under Günther Müller-Stöckheim between Havana and Key West she was owned by Alfredo Garcia Limited, which had offices at 8 and 10 Bridge Street in New York as well as Havana, Cuba and, apparently, Bluefields Nicaragua.

          On her final voyage the Managua loaded a cargo of Potash in Charleston, South Carolina and proceeded for Havana. However she was told to call at Jacksonville Florida along the way, which she did, for routing instructions. The router there did not warn the ship against crossing the Straits of Florida at night. The ship was under command of Captain Zenon Urresti, with a mixed crew of 24 other Spanish speakers from Cuba, Mexico, and Spain.

              At 9:45 pm on the 15th of June 1942 the Managua was 45 miles south of Sombrero Light in approximate position 24.05N by 81.40W, or between Key West and Havana. There were foru lookouts, all on the bridge – Captain Urresti, Chief Mate Felise Quintana, and two sailors. They were steaming at 208 degrees true (southwest) and making eight knots. A torpedo from U-67 slammed into the ship’s port side in the number three hold. The impact and explosion effectively broke the ship’s back, splitting it in two and causing it to sink in one and a half minutes.

              The 25 men spilled onto two life-rafts and two life boats. Then they shifted: 5 men to the 2nd Mate’s boat and 20 to the Captain’s. The men in the Captain Urresti’s life boat could not make out more than a silhouette of the submarine due to the extensive debris field between them and the sub. This was not the case with Second Officer Jose Antonio Bilboa who was in command of one of the boats.

          Five minutes after the attack, or at 9:50 pm, U-67 approached Bilboa’s boat, which only had five men in it: Radio Operator Luis Antonio Marti, Chief Engineer Jenaro Alvarez, Fourth Assistant Engineer Francisco Gorrochategui and Fireman Victor Garcia. Muller-Stockheim’s men ordered two of the survivors to board the submarine, which they did.

          On the deck of the sub they were questioned as to the last port, destination, cargo, etcetera, and released. The merchant sailors described the sub as new-looking but with recently painted patches, and the commander as appearing to be only 23 years of age. A man on the conning tower covered the men with a machine gun. The submariners were interested to know if there were any British or Americans in the crew, which there were not.  
          Captain Urresti and his men landed in Matanzas, Cuba. Second Mate Bilboa and his five men landed on the opposite side of the Straits of Florida – on Pigeon Cay in the Florida Cays. They were taken to the Naval Air Station in Key West and interviewed there. The Captain’s boat with 20 men landed at 8:00 pm local time on the 17th of June and were tended to by Cubans in Matanzas.