Pipe Section: MV Ondina

Accession Number RELAWM31888
Collection type Technology
Object type Maritime vessel or watercraft
Physical description Steel
Maker Unknown
Place made Netherlands: Amsterdam
Date made 1939
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Damaged length of oil pipe. The piece has many bullet and shrapnel entry and exit holes.

History / Summary

In 1942 Japanese commerce raiders and submarines plied the southern oceans seeking to destroy merchant vessels bringing supplies to Allied combatants.

On 11 November 1942 the Dutch Shell oil tanker, MV Ondina and its escort, HMIS Bengal, were attacked by two Japanese raiders while sailing to Diego Garcia from Fremantle, Western Australia. During the attack one of the raiders, the Hokoku Maru, was sunk. The second, the Aikoku Maru, chased after the Bengal and disabled the escort before returning to finish the Ondina.

The Ondina had only one gun and it fought against the raider until running out of ammunition. When the Japanese continued to attack, torpedoing and shelling the tanker, the Ondina’s crew abandoned ship. Unfortunately, the captain was killed by a shell soon after giving the order.

The Japanese machine-gunned the lifeboats for ten minutes. Many men leaped overboard and while most survived there were some casualties, including the chief engineer. The Aikoku Maru left to collect the Hokoku Maru’s survivors before returning to torpedo the Ondina one last time. Fortunately, they missed and the raider left, assuming the tanker would sink.

Despite suffering severe damage, including a torpedo hole just below the waterline, the Ondina did not sink. Some of the crew went on board and discovered it was salvageable. It took eight hours to put out a fire in the tanker, but the engine was still sound and the Ondina returned to Fremantle a week after the attack.