Rapana / Parana
All we have on this ship is that it was unsuccessfully attacked by the Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli southeast of Bermuda on the 3rd of March, 1942. Not be confused with the Kastor, a Danish ship sunk by the same submarine off Trinidad in August of that year (and whose previous name was Parana). “In the afternoon of March 3rd, it located and attacked the British tanker PARANA of 8,017 t., but all torpedoes were deviated by the heavy sea,” according to an article by Christiano D’Adamo at regiamarina.net on the Tazzoli. According to research there was no ship and that tonnage in the British flag at that time. The only vessel of that name then was owned by the Compania Argentina de Navaegacion Mihanovich Limitada of Buenos Aires. For that firm the ship was engaged in “general cargo, oil and petroleum trades” suggesting that it could it have been the ship attacked by the Tazzoli. It was described as a general cargo ship not a tanker (Jordan p.2, p.435). The exaggeration of tonnage is not in itself that unusual.
According to the authority, Roger Jordan in “The World’s Merchant Fleets 1939” (Naval Institute Press 1999 edition), the Parana was built in 1915 as the Gaboon 33 at the Tyne Iron Shipbuilding Company on the Tyne River at Willington Quay in the UK. It was 3,286 Gross Registered Tons, 349 feet 7 inches length overall, 46 feet 11 inches wide, with a depth of 21 feet 2 inches. Owned by the Compania Uruguaya de Navegacion Limitada in Montevideo, originally it was just engaged in trades limited to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Most likely this report must be discounted, as how could a submarine which could not sink a ship – or even hit it – because of rough seas much less read the name of the ship on its stern or bow, unless the vessel sent a mayday, in which case there should be some record by shore stations. According to the John Hm. Marsh Maritime Research Center, Parana apparently survived the war and was scrapped in 1946 (rapidttp.co.za).
In reality the ship attacked by Tazzoli must have been Rapana, an assertion supported by Italian submarine historian Platon Alexiedes, who wrote: “Tazzoli , from a distance of 2,000 meters, fired two torpedoes which had an irregular course then two more from 1,500 meters which also had an irregular course and porpoised. Cossato tried to turn around to fire s stern shot but the tanker had apparently sighted the submarine and turned away. Because of good visibility and moonlight, Cossato decided that his chance of closing in on the surface were poor and desisted from further attacks. Italian torpedoes were fast (48 knots) but testing had shown that this speed could be achieved at the cost of 5% of the shots being irregular and this was accepted. It does seem that Cossato blamed the torpedoes for wasting his four shots and perhaps he had just misjudged the target’s speed and course”
According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Rapana, “MVRapana was one of nine Anglo Saxon Royal Dutch/Shell oil tankersconverted to become a Merchant Aircraft Carrier(MAC ship). The group is collectively known as the Rapana class. Rapana was launched in March 1935 at Wilton-Fijenoord, Schiedam, Netherlands as an oil tanker and completed in April, 1935. She was converted to a MAC ship by Smiths Dock, North Shields, completing in July 1943. As a MAC ship, she had no aircraft hangar, and continued to carry normal cargoes, although operating under Royal Navy control. Only her air crew and the necessary maintenance staff were naval personnel.Amongst the aircraft that served on Rapana was Fairey Swordfish Mk II LS326. The aircraft was later transferred to Empire MacCallum. As of November 2010, it is airworthy with the Royal Navy Historic Flight.After the war, MV Rapana was reconverted and returned to merchant service as an oil tanker and served in that role until scrapped in Osaka in 1958. She was renamed Rotula in 1950”