By the end of World War II, ace commander Ernst Mengersen had reportedly sunk over 70,000 tons of shipping, most of it British vessels. He spent nearly four years on board various U-boats including U-101 from November 1940 through December 1941. On the night of February 17, 1941, the SS Gairsoppa became Mengersen’s eighth casualty as the ship was making its way up the Irish coast.
Of the 86 men believed to have been aboard the SS Gairsoppa during the U-boat attack, the master, 82 crew members and two gunners were lost.
In memory of the merchant seamen who served aboard the ship, Odyssey fashioned a plaque that included the name of each sailor along with the words, “In memory of the 86 merchant seamen who served aboard the Gairsoppa on her final voyage. May your memory live on and your story be told”. The memorial plaque made of zinc is impervious to corrosion and is intended to last forever.
In 2013, following a honor ceremony and before leaving the site, the crew placed the plaque on the bow of the ship.