Auke Visser's Other Esso Related Tankers Site     |   home
Oranjestad - (1927-1942)
Recovering screw of the SS "Oranjestad", after 67 years
See also : Video movies in 3 parts of the recovery of the screw

 Dutch Text



Aruba went to bed the night of February 16, 1942, expecting the usual good night’s sleep. The noise of destruction broke silence…….
Aruba’s war begins.
Two of Lago’s steam-driven lake tankers, Pedernales and the Oranjestad were anchored off the reef at San Nicolas Bay waiting to be
berthed in the harbor to unload their crude from Lake Maracaibo. An eyewitness reported that the tankers were directly off of Bungalow
59 of the Lago Colony and about ¼ mile out from the reef.
The attack on the Lago Refinery by the German U-boat 156 began at 1:31 hour when Captain Hartenstein ordered "Fire Torpedo" and
48 seconds later the lake tanker Pedernales was hit in the side and exploded into a fire ball. The Pedernales burned but did not sink
and the next day she was towed to the Lago Dry Dock. The mid-section was removed, the bow and aft sections were rejoined toge-
ther and she made her way to the U.S.A. to be refitted with a new mid-section.
Two minutes later Captain Hartenstein ordered a second torpedo to be launched. The second torpedo hit the lake tanker Oranjestad
and it too became an inferno. Unlike the Pedernales, it sank. It became the first tanker to be sunk in the entire Western Hemisphere
during World War II.
Crew members were shouting in their burning cabins. Others were trying to reach the lifeboats and some were jumping overboard.
The crew consisted of 25 and unfortunately, fourteen lost their lives.
Today, it is 67 years ago that the SS Oranjestad was sunk by U-156. But in the meantime someone by the name of Percy Sweetnam,
a professional and certified diver, in one of his many dives, found the tanker. On the second dive the group, consisting of Percy, Dick
de Bruin, and Andre Loonstra, noted that the propeller was broken from its shaft. Apparently, when the tanker went down it fell on its
stern and broke the propeller’s shaft. Then in a meeting between Percy, Dick, and Andre Loonstra, in Andre’s garage they discussed
how they could reach their goals to recover this propeller.
This sparked a fire between the groups’ minds that some day they would like to bring this propeller to shore and have it made into a
monument to remind everyone how lucky Aruba was during WWII and at the same time dedicate it to all those who lost their lives on
Lago’s lake tankers during WWII.
From mid-February of this year, Percy with his team of divers started with the diving project. The team includes five experienced div-
ers, Paul Martijn, Toine van der Klooster, Rigo Hoenkamp, Dick de Bruin and Andre Loonstra.
Preparations immediately began with the possibility that the propeller could be used as a memorial monument. After the initial dive
and thoroughly studying the underwater images, it was decided that the recovery could be realized. The depth of 225 feet and strong
current were the greatest obstacles during the recovery dive project. Based on this, many deep dives had to be made to ensure that
a step by step procedure be used to reach a final but positive end result. It was then decided that to recover it safely, it would take
three phases to accomplish their goals.
Last Monday, April 13th, Percy and his team consisting of Dick de Bruin, Andre Loonstra, Paul Martijn, Toine van der Klooster, and
Rigo Hoenkamp successfully accomplished phase I of the project. They recovered the propeller with a 4000 lbs. lifting bag to the sur-
face which was then immediately towed to the reef and was left at a depth of 40 feet, awaiting phase II.
On Tuesday, April 14th, Percy and two of his divers, Andre Loonstra and Paul Martijn did phase II by lifting the propeller from its 40-
foot position and towing it inside the lagoon at Commandeursbaai, Savaneta, awaiting phase III, the onshore lift.
This Saturday, April 18th, after 67 years, Percy and his divers will make history by lifting a piece of Aruba’s WWII history. The propel-
ler will be moved closer to shore and lifted with a crane and set on shore at Cañon, between Zeerover and Brisas del Mar Bar/Res-
taurant. If things work out well, in the future it will be placed as a memorial in the Lago Colony, close to where it all happened. Un-
doubtedly, this will also serve as a tourist attraction.
We hereby wish to extend an invitation to all the media and the public in general to come witness this historic event at 11:00am on
Saturday, April 18th..
(Note: For photos, please go to , then click Lago Colony & Lago Refinery Aruba, and finally click on Historic
Day in Aruba in order to choose any photo you would like to attach to the news.)
Signed: Percy Sweetnam and the Propeller Recovery Team
April 16, 2009
Members of the diving-team.

Members of the crew, lost on the SS "Oranjestad", Febr. 16 th, 1942 :

WILSON, Clifford Achilles
PIETER, Alberto Gregorio
PANNEFLEK, Federico D.
MILLS, William A.
2ed Mate
MARTIJN, Hose Bernardo
MARCHENE, Rafael Cristiniano
LYNCH, Darcy Kenneth
LINZEY, Eric Norbert
Mess Boy
Head Stewart
JACKSON, Anthony D.
Student Fireman
GOELOE, Juan Domingo
EMERENCIANO, Louis Nicholaas
DePALM, Andres Jose
DAVIS, Thomas D.
North Wales
2ed Officer
Scheepsschroef gezonden olietanker na 67 jaar aan wal

17 Apr, 2009, 16:08 (GMT -04:00)
De scheepsschroef van olietanker SS Oranjestad die al 67 jaar op de bodem van de zee in de Colony ligt, wordt morgen aan wal gebracht.
SAN NICOLAS — De scheepsschroef van de olietanker SS Oranjestad (van olieraffinaderij Lago Oil & Transport Company) die
67 jaar op 69 meter diepte op de bodem van de zee bij Colony lag, wordt op zaterdag om elf uur ’s morgens aan wal gebracht.
Daarmee wordt geschiedenis geschreven door een groep ervaren duikers die zich vrijwillig hebben gestort op dit bergingsproject.
De tanker werd tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog door de Duitse onderzeer U-156 onder leiding van kapitein Werner Hartenstein ge-
torpedeerd en tot zinken gebracht. Het was de eerste tanker die zonk in het gehele westelijk halfrond na het uitbreken van de oorlog.
Van de 25 bemanningsleden kwamen er toen 14 om het leven.
De scheepsschroef is begin deze week al van de zeebodem bij de Colony gehaald en met luchtkussens, naar Savaneta verplaatst.
Daar ligt het nu op 12 meter diepte op een rif te wachten om morgen dichter aan wal te worden gebracht door het duikersteam. Dit
team bestaat uit Percy Sweetman, Paul Martijn, Toine van der Klooster, Rigo Hoenkamp, Dick de Bruin en Andre Loonstra. Met een
speciale kraan wordt de scheepsschroef vervolgens gelift en aan land gebracht. Dit vindt plaats bij Canon, tussen Zeerovers Club
en Brisas del Mar Restaurant. De duikers zien graag dat de scheepsschroef een plaats krijgen op Rodger’s Beach in de Colony,
dicht bij de plek waar alles zich bijna 70 jaar geleden heeft afgespeeld.
Duiker Sweetman stuitte per toeval tijdens een van zijn vele duiktochten op de tanker SS Oranjestad. Bij de tweede duik nam hij
De Bruin en van der Klooster mee en het drietal merkte toen op dat de scheepsschroef van zijn as was afgebroken. Zij zijn toen
gaan bekijken hoe ze deze scheepsschroef aan wal konden krijgen. Hun voornaamste doel is dat de schroef een herdenkingsmo-
nument wordt. Dit om iedereen eraan te herinneren aan de gevolgen van de Tweede Wereldoorlog en vooral om het op te dragen
aan de overleden bemanningsleden van de olietanker SS Oranjestad. Ook kan het volgens de duikers uitgroeien tot een toeristis-
che attractie.
Morgen is in ieder geval iedereen welkom om naar de berging van de scheepsschroef te komen kijken.