The steel steamship Louisiana was launched from the Newcastle yard of Armstrong, Mitchell and Co Ltd on 28th April 1896. She measured 319.8′ x 46.0′ x 23.2′ and her tonnage was 3015 gross tons, 1940 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by North East Marine Engineering Co Ltd., Sunderland delivering 280 net horse power. She was owned and operated by Det Forende Dampskibs Selskab (DFDS) of Copenhagen.
With the outbreak of World War One the regular voyages across the North Sea from Scandanavia to Britain became increasingly dangerous as the German U-boat fleet attacked any ship making the crossing in the attempt to cut of British supplies. The DFDS fleet was to be particularly hard hit with 26 ships lost during the conflict. The SS Louisiana was to become one of these losses.
On 18th April 1917 she was en route from Copenhagen to the Tyne with a general cargo under the command of Captain Jonsen. As they made their way across the North Sea they could not know that the German U-boat UC-45 commanded by Kapitanleutnant Herbert Aust was also in the area and the previous day had sunk SS Bretagne and SS Charles Goodanew off Kinnaird Head. Aust continued his sortie in the area and on the 18th he spotted the Louisiana through his periscope and attacked. The Louisiana took a direct torpedo hit and quickly began to sink. Thankfully the captain and his crew were able to safely disembark in the ship’s boats before she went down and were safely picked up later.
The wreck believed to be Louisiana lies in position 57° 45.455’N, 01° 15.342’W oriented 005/185 degrees. She lies in 82 metres with a least depth clearance of 70 metres. Hydrographic Department surveys indicated a probable three island style vessel 100 metres long which certainly strongly suggested the Louisiana. Divers visited the wreck in 2019 and confirmed the three island design. The location of the wreck also correlated perfectly with the attack position logged by UC-45 in German records. It is therefore believed that this wreck is indeed the Louisiana.
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Buchan Divers – www.buchandivers.com in the preparation of this article.