'Operation 60,000' was the Romanian and German two-phase naval evacuation of the forces of Generaloberst Erwin Jaenecke’s 17th Army, of Generaloberst Ferdinand Schörner’s Heeresgruppe 'Südukraine', from Sevastopol on the western tip of Crimea at the time of the Soviet 'Crimean Strategic Offensive Operation' (12 April/13 May 1944).
'Operation 60,000' was so named as the Romanian navy estimated, at the time of the operation’s start, that there were 60,000 Romanian troops in Heeresgruppe 'Südukraine'.
After it had become clear that the Axis defence of the Perekop isthmus and to the south of the Sivash Sea could not be hold, the 17th Army began the implementation of its 'Adler' (v) plan to fall back to Sevastopol, but despite the demands of Adolf Hitler it was clear from an early stage that the combined German and Romanian forces of the 17th Army would not be able to undertake the long-term defence of Sevastopol. Romania was determined to extract as many of its troops as possible, and on 11 April an initial convoy departed the Romanian port of Constanţa for Sevastopol. This convoy comprised the German tanker Prodromos and the Hungarian cargo vessel Kassa, escorted by the Romanian gunboat Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu, German submarine chaser UJ 115 and German minesweeper R 163. The Romanian destroyers Regina Maria and Marasesti, together with a minesweeper, joined the convoy with mission of escorting another convoy from Sevastopol to Romania.
The Soviets tried to bombed the area of Constanţa harbour during the night, but the weight of the anti-aircraft defences and the use of smokescreens led the Soviet aircraft to drop their bombs in the sea rather than on the port area. Another Soviet attack took place during the night of 17/18 April but, once again, the use of smokescreens meant that the bombers were not able to locate the port. These failures probably decided the Soviet command to cancel other raids on Constanţa, which was a significant factor in 'Operation 60,000'.
On 12 April Regina Maria and Marasesti reached Sevastopol after surviving two air attacks, and during the afternoon returned to Constanţa as escorts, together with UJ 103 and R 163, the transport ships Ardeal, Helga and Tisza carrying 4,361 men (700 Romanians, 3,197 Germans, 47 Russian volunteers and 417 prisoners of war). At 09.17 on 13 April the convoy was attacked by a submarine, which unsuccessfully fired three torpedoes. Meanwhile the gunboat Capitan Constantin Dumitrescu, UJ 115 and two minesweepers escorted Prodromos, Kassa and a powered ferry pontoon from Sevastopol to Constanţa, which they reached during the morning of 14 April.
On the same day, Sevastopol saw the departure of several small German vessels: two tugs towing lighters, two ferry pontoons and four light submarine hunters carrying 2,038 men (377 Romanians, 1,543 Germans, 113 volunteers and five civilians), which needed two days to reach Constanţa because of their low speed. In the opposite direction, from Constanţa to Sevastopol, the Romanian minelayer Amiral Murgescu, three ferry pontoons and one minesweeper escorted the Romanian cargo vessel Oituz and the German Laudon, Theben and Erzherzog Karl carrying munitions and food. On 15 April, between 08.15 and 16.45, the convoy was attacked by Soviet bombers: the anti-aircraft guns of the Amiral Murgescu shot down two of the Soviet attackers, but suffered damage to one of her two 105-mm (4.13-in) guns and one of her four 20-mm cannon. Almost immediately after reaching Sevastopol, the minelayer set off once more for Constanţa with a convoy comprising the tankers Ossag, the transport vessels KT 25 and KT 26 carrying 3,973 men, most of them German, UJ 103 and R 166. The convoy arrived in Romania two days later.
On 16 April two German convoys departed Sevastopol. The first comprised Kinburn, Laudon, Theben and Erzherzog Karl, escorted by eight armed ferry pontoons and two light submarine chasers. This convoy was carrying 5,417 persons, of whom 3,765 were Germans and 516 Romanians. Also under German escort was another convoy comprising the cargo vessels Kassa, Lola and Tisza carrying 2,561 men, most of them German and some Russian volunteers but only six Romanians. The convoy was attacked without success by a Soviet submarine in the vicinity of Sevastopol, and then at 14.34 the Blohm und Voss flying boat providing air cover spotted a submarine: one bomb was observed to hit the Soviet boat, which was presumed sunk. It is possible that this was L-6, the last submarine lost by the Soviet Black Sea Fleet in combat. On the same day, the cargo ship Oituz departed Crimea with Sulina as its destination. On the following day, to the south-east of Sf Gheorghe, the ship was attacked by six Petlyakov Pe-2 attack bombers and damaged.
The first loss of the operation took place on 18 April. During the night of 17/18 April, the ships Alba Iulia and Danubius departed Crimea under escort of the destroyer Marasti, gunboat Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu, UJ 104 and R 216. At 11.00 a torpedo passed astern of the convoy, and the gunboat searched a search in the area from which it was believed the torpedo had been fired. The gunboat dropped two depth charges and bubbles started to rise to the surface. The escorting German seaplane then indicated a new position for the Soviet submarine (possibly L-6) and the gunboat dropped another five depth charges. Still larger quantities of air started to reach the surface. UJ 104 then took over the hunt and the gunboat returned to the convoy. At 12.20, after they had left the area of the submarine attack, the ships were attacked by four Ilyushin Il-4 bombers, which dropped their weapons from an altitude of 3,280 ft (1000 m). The bombs fell close to Alba Iulia but caused no damage. Then, at 12.37, four Douglas A-20G attack aircraft delivered a shallow dive-bombing attack from out of the sun. This time one bomb fell very near the ship, its detonation blowing into the hull a hole 32.8 ft (10 m) long and 19.67 ft (6 m) high, and another hit a hold, killing some 500 Soviet prisoners of war. Alba Iulia took a strong list to port, the bow fell and the propeller lifted partially out of the water. The embarked soldiers were overcome by panic and started to jump overboard. The destroyers Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria were immediately despatched from Constanţa, seven transport seaplanes were also ordered to the scene, and a Sevastopol-bound convoy comprising Ossag, KT 25 and KT 26 was diverted to rescue the survivors. UJ 104 attempted to take Alba Iulia on tow, but its rudder was jammed and the task was practically impossible.
At 13.20 three Soviet warplanes appeared: their bombs did not hit the ship, but did fall among the men in the water, killing many of them. Some 10 minute later, five Soviet torpedo-bombers attacked. The torpedoes passed ahead of the bow of the stricken ship, and the anti-aircraft guns of the escorting ships shot down two Douglas A-20 torpedo bombers.
By 15.00, all the men in the water had been recovered by the escort and the German seaplanes, and at 15.40 the Ossag convoy appeared to take off the men still on board Alba Iulia. Because the crippled ship was still afloat, at 17.00 two tugs departed Constanţa After 90 minutes the ship listed still further and the crew was ordered to abandon the ship. During the morning of 19 April a team from Regele Ferdinand managed to free the jammed rudder after several attempts, and during the afternoon Alba Iulia was taken in tow, her engines were restarted and, at 10.30 on 20 April, she entered the harbour of Constanţa, where she was still under repair at the end of the war.
The other ships of the convoy, loaded with mountain troops (Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu had 71 such troops on board), reached Constanţa on 19 April. The destroyer Marasti had arrived earlier, however, and as a result of the fact that the lighthouse at Tuzla was not working ran aground on a sandbank. The ship was recovered and towed to the port, but the damage she had suffered kept the destroyer out of action in April and May, the period in which the Romanian navy desperately needed all its ships.
On 19 and 20 April, two German convoys sailed for Sevastopol, and in the opposite direction came three convoys carrying more than 17,000 men. On 21 April Regele Ferdinand headed toward Crimea together with R 206 and R 207 escorting Ossag and KT 26. During the morning of the following day the convoy came attacked twice. At 08.30 a formation of 13 Ilyushin Il-2 attack warplanes appeared but cause no damage to the ships. Shortly after this 18 more Il-2 warplanes appeared, but these too were unsuccessful, and one of them was shot down by fighters. About one hour later, at 09.40, a second wave of attackers appeared in the form of 12 A-20 attack bombers, which managed to hit the bow of Ossag. Moreover, bomb fragments destroyed the radio room of Regele Ferdinand. Two of the Soviet bombers were downed by the fighter escort, and another crashed into the sea, probably as a result of engine failure. KT 26 tried to take Ossag in tow, but at 11.10 six Pe-2 bombers appeared and the effort had to be abandoned. Ossag and R 206 were therefore ordered to turn back toward Constanţa, while Regele Ferdinand, R 207 and KT 26 continued toward Sevastopol as they were only about 35 miles (55 km) to the south-east of their destination. At 13.26, the three ships were again attacked from the air, in this instance by six bombers. The destroyer was hit by a bomb which failed to detonate and thus made only a small hole in the side of the ship above the waterline: the unexploded bomb was discovered in one of the fuel tanks of the destroyer only several days after she had arrived back at Constanţa Ossag had meanwhile started to experience problems, and it was decided now decided that Sevastopol was the better destination as it was closer than Constanţa The Germans despatched UJ 103 to help R 206, and on 23 April the two small vessels managed to take Ossag in tow toward Sevastopol. As the three ships made slow headway, they were attacked by the submarine M-35, whose two torpedoes missed UJ 103. The boat was pursued and depth charged, but escaped.
Two air attacks followed. The first was delivered by five A-20 attack bombers, and the second by 13 of the same type of warplane. The upper deck of the UJ 103 suffered severe damage, and the vessel had to return to base. R 206 then sank the badly damaged Ossag at 16.02 some 17.5 miles (28 km) to the south-west of Sevastopol.
On 21 April the cargo ship Ardeal, which had been damaged in an accidental fire several days before, departed Sevastopol under escort of three S-boote, one minesweeper and UJ 105. The destroyer Marasesti waited for the ships at sea and then assumed command of the convoy, which reached its destination during the evening of 22 April. There was one submarine attack during the passage, but this was ineffectual. Another convoy, which departed for Constanţa on 21 April, comprised the transport vessels Budapest and Danubius, escorted by UJ 106 and four light submarine chasers. En route the convoy was attacked by a formation of 12 A-20 attack bombers, which for the loss of of of their own numbers damaged Danubius and caused the deaths of two men and the wounding of another on Budapest.
On 23 April, four convoys departed Sevastopol: Regele Ferdinand, UJ 103 and R 197 escorted Totila, KT 25 and KT 26; four light submarine chasers escorted Tisza; four German armed motor lighters escorted four ferry pontoons and two light submarine chasers; and several armed ferry pontoons escorted Lola and Kassa. During the passage to Romania, the lightly defended convoys were repeatedly attacked by aircraft of the Black Sea Fleet’s air arm, but suffered no damage and reached Constanţa during the evening of 24 April. On the following day, on passage to Constanţa, the German tug Kreutzenstein, the lighter Leo and 10 ferry pontoons were attacked by 12 Ilyushin Il-2 warplanes: Leo was hit and sunk, going to the bottom with almost 300 of the 1,045 men she was carrying.
Also on 25 April, Constanţa saw the departure of a convoy comprising Durostor, Helga, PTA 404 and PTA 406, escorted by the gunboat Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu, UJ 115, three armed ferry pontoons, one minesweeper and one light light submarine chaser, while Sulina saw the departure of KT 18, UJ 104, one minesweeper and several ferry pontoons. These were also attacked by aircraft, and PTA 406 was damaged and left powerless on 26 April. R 37 tried to take PTA 406 in tow, but found the task impossible because of the heavy sea which was running. The crew abandoned ship, but the vessel was spotted in the course of the following day by a seaplane and then brought to Sevastopol for repairs by two minesweepers.
The last day of the first phase of 'Operation 60,000' took place on 27 April. Of the last two convoys loaded with troops bound for Romania, one comprised Durostor, Helga and KT 18, escorted by Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu, UJ 115, one minesweeper and two light submarine chasers, and the other 17 pontoon ferries, PTA 404 and PTA 406. Some 11.5 miles (18.5 km) to the south-west of Sevastopol, the Soviet motor torpedo boats TKA-332 and TKA-334 launched four torpedoes against the first convoy, one of these striking UJ 104, which was part of the escort for the first part of the crossing. Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu started to fire flares from her 88-mm (3.465-in) gun, and the entire escort force then opened fire on the Soviet craft, hitting and sinking TKA-332. UJ 104 was towed back to Sevastopol, where she was later destroyed on 9 May following a bombardment. The other convoy was also attacked by two motor torpedo boats, but suffered no loss.
In total, during the first phase of the operation between 14 and 27 April 1944, 73,058 persons were lifted by sea from Crimea by. These comprised 20,779 Romanians, of whom 2,296 were wounded, 28,394 Germans, of whom 4,995 were wounded, 723 Slovaks, 15,055 Russian volunteers, 2,559 Soviets prisoners of war, and 3,748 civilians. Of these just fewer than 1,100 died during the crossing. One German tanker and one lighter, whose 3,000 tons represented about 8% of the tonnage engaged in the operation, were sunk, and several Romanian transport ships were damaged. One Romanian destroyer and two armed ferry pontoons as well as two German submarine chasers were damaged. On the other side the losses were also important: 12 aircraft were shot down, one submarine and one motor torpedo boat were sunk, and another submarine was seriously damaged.
The convoys to and from Sevastopol continued, and between 28 April and 7 May there were 14 of them. The ships delivered ammunition and supplies to the besieged garrison, and returned with evacuated men, equipment and stores.
The losses continued. On 3 May, the German motor lighter Junak was sunk by a formation of nine A-20 warplanes about 90 miles (145 km) to the south-west of Sf Gheorghe. On the following day, another German motor lighter, Erzherzog Karl carrying 700 Romanian soldiers, was struck by a bomb which killed 24 men and forced the vessel to return to Sevastopol. On 6 May the German armed ferry pontoon MFP 132 was sunk and the Hungarian cargo vessel Budapest was damaged by 12 Il-2 warplanes.
Following the loss of the Sapun Heights on the south-eastern sector of the Sevastopol perimeter during the night of 7/8 May, the 17th Army started the retreat to the positions at Cape Khersones, from where the evacuation had then to restart under more dramatic circumstances than in April.
At 24.00 on 8/9 May Sevastopol saw the departure of the Bradul 1 (Christmas tree 1) convoy comprising KT 18, UJ 105 and two minesweepers with 2,887 men onboard, followed soon afterward by the Bradul 2 convoy with the gunboats Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu and Capitan Constantin Dumitrescu. From Constant there departed the Patria (homeland) convoy comprising Teja and Totila escorted by the destroyers Marasesti and Regina Maria. Marasesti then joined the Bradul 1 convoy, with which she made the passage to Romania, and Regina Maria arrived off Sevastopol at 00.35 on 10 May and assumed responsibility for the Bradul 3 convoy, which comprised Durostor, Lola and UJ 106).
The Axis situation became critical during the morning of 9 May as the 17th Army lost the last Axis airfield in the peninsula and Soviet artillery began a constant bombardment of Sevastopol harbour. In practical terms, the Axis fighter force had by now been reduced to a small number of Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engined heavy fighters operating from bases in Moldavia, and the Soviet air forces (both army and navy) could therefore operate without encountering much in the way of opposition. The last formation of Junkers Ju 52/3m transport aircraft carrying wounded men flew out of Khersones that morning. In the harbour, the Soviet artillery fire sank the German tanker Prodromos, motor lighter Günther, lighter Basarabia, light submarine chaser KFK 2313 and submarine chaser UJ 104 torpedoed and damaged several days earlier. Just after leaving the harbour, the lighter Var and submarine chaser UJ BW 01 came under attack by Soviet aircraft and sank. KFK 2314 was seriously damaged but was able to continue toward Romania. The port and city of Sevastopol were abandoned.
On the western side of the Black Sea, Constanţa saw the departure of four convoys: Sturzul (thrush) comprised Geiserich and Theben escorted by three armed ferry pontoons and two light submarine chasers; Profetul (prophet) comprised Danubius, Helga, Tisza and Grafenau escorted by four armed ferry pontoons, gunboat Locotenent-Comandor Eugen Stihi and UJ 115; Pionier (pioneer) comprised Lobau and Dresden escorted by three armed ferry pontoons, five light submarine chasers and one minesweeper; and Ovidiu comprised Romania, KT 25 and KT 26 escorted by UJ 110 and Regele Ferdinand.
The first ships to reached Khersones, to the south-west of Sevastopol, on 10 May were the German transport ships Teja and Totila. These came under attack at 05.22 by a formation of 20 Soviet aircraft, but sustained no damage. Until 08.30 the ships were loaded with soldiers brought from the beach by assault boats, and then headed back to Constanţa escorted by three minesweepers. At 09.30 the convoy was attacked by 21 Il-2 warplanes and Totila was hit by three bombs, sinking rapidly with about 5,000 men, of whom about 2,000 were Romanians. Teja and the escort could not aid the survivors and continued the trip. At 14.45, a formation of 11 A-20 warplanes appeared over the ships and hit the Teja, which sank with about 5,000 men, of which 2,000 were Romanians. The three minesweepers were able to save only some 400 men, and then continued toward Constanţa Ships and the seaplanes sent to recover survivors arrived too late. The 10,000 men lost on the two ships represented about 90% of the casualties suffered during the evacuation.
The situation was worsened when a storm hit the convoys and damaged several ships. KT 25, Grafenau and the ferry pontoons had to turn back and, more seriously, the storm destroyed several boats which were being employed to ferry the soldiers from the beaches to the transport ships, badly disorganising the whole operation. The Profetul convoy was discovered by Soviet reconnaissance aircraft at 17.23, and this led to a sequence of four attacks: by 14 aircraft at 17.42, eight at 18.00, six at 18.07 and three at 18.40: none of these caused any damage or casualties. The convoy reached Sevastopol during the morning of the following day as about the same time as the other three convoys.
In the evening three convoys departed Constanţa The Fagul (phage) convoy comprised Uskok, 17 ferry pontoons and one minesweeper; the Astra convoy comprised Isar, Lech, Anna and Mossel escorted by one armed ferry pontoon and four light submarine chasers; and the Musca (fly) convoy comprised the tanker Friedericke and KT 18 escorted by Marasesti, UJ 105, UJ 108, R 205 and Capitan Constantin Dumitrescu. During the crossing, at 05.45 on 11 May, Friedericke was hit by a torpedo fired by the submarine [L-4. Two other torpedoes were avoided by Marasesti and Capitan Constantin Dumitrescu. The tanker was damaged and was taken in tow by KT 18 and UJ 108 and, under the escort of Marasesti, returned toward Constanţa as UJ 105 and Capitan Constantin Dumitrescu continued toward Khersones. At about 16.00 tugs from Constanţa arrived and took over the tow of Friedericke, allowing KT 18 and her escort to head back toward Crimea once more.
At 02.00 on 11 May, the first ships arrived off Khersones and came under Soviet artillery fire, which compelled them to manoeuvre constantly. After the break of day the situation was rendered still more problematical by the arrival overhead of Soviet warplanes. At 07.52, 12 Il-2 attack aircraft hit Romania, and this ship caught fire after the explosion of the munitions she was carrying. Even so, the crew and the soldiers the ship had embarked were rescued. Several minutes later, at 08.00, six Il-2 warplanes attacked Danubius, which was still loaded with seven tons of munitions. Several bombs hit the cargo ship, which blew up and left very few survivors. The German transport Helga ran aground and was later destroyed by Il-2 warplanes.
After suffering light damaged from the detonation of a 76.2-mm (3-in) shell which hit her during the night, Regele Ferdinand became the target of no less than 33 air attacks between 06.00 and 10.30. The low-level attacks were repelled by the 120-mm (4.72-in main guns of the ship, whose light anti-aircraft guns shot down several Soviet aircraft. At 09.30 hours, a battery of Soviet 152-mm (6-in) artillery targeted the destroyer, whose captain immediately ordered the engines into reverse, avoiding the next salvo, which would undoubtedly have struck the vessel. The ship’s 120-mm (4.72-in) guns returned fire, their shells impacting close enough to the positions of the Soviet battery to silence it. Eventually Regele Ferdinand was hit below the waterline by a bomb which did not detonate but punctured one of the fuel tanks. With 11 members of the crew killed and 28 wounded, plus 10 dead passengers and many more wounded, and loosing fuel, the destroyer set out for Constanţa at 10.30, and was dogged by further air attacks. En route the destroyer rescued six Germans and two Romanians, survivors from Teja, afloat on a raft. Regele Ferdinand arrived off Constanţa just as she ran out of fuel, and had to be towed into port.
On 11 May another two convoys departed Sevastopol. The first comprised Grafenau and Theben escorted by UJ 115, UJ 110, one minesweeper and nine armed ferry pontoons, and the second comprised Tisza escorted by Locotenent-Comandor Eugen Stihi, one minesweeper and four army ferry pontoons. This second convoy was attacked by several waves of aircraft, and at about 16.00 Tisza, with about 1,600 soldiers on board, was hit and damaged, and was then taken in tow by a minesweeper from the Stejarul (oak) convoy.
This latter convoy comprised the impressed passenger ship Dacia serving as a minelayer, minelayer Amiral Murgescu, destroyer Regina Maria and two minesweepers, and departed Constanţa on 11 May at 02.40. Because of the loss of the three transport ships off the coast at Khersones, another four convoys were organised: Orient (east) departed at 18.00, Trandarirul (rose) and Barul (bar) at 20.00, and nine ferry pontoons 22.00. These did not reach Crimea, however, because by this time the evacuation was over.
The Stejarul convoy arrived off Khersones at 21.00 on 12 May. The three warships were taken under steady Soviet artillery bombardment aided by flares. Formerly a transport ship, Dacia remained farther offshore and embarked soldiers brought out from the beaches by ferry pontoons. While the transshipments were taking place, Soviet aircraft dropped flares and attacked. Several bombs fell close to the ship and the splinters wounded one merchant marine officer, who died the following day in a hospital in Constanţa, and at 01.00 the first officer was also wounded. A bomb fell on the stern of the ship, but landed on a pile of rope, which reduced the effect of the detonation. The splinters killed two seamen and wounded another 21, however. At 01.30 the ship suffered an engine failure and was motionless for 20 minutes. By about 02.00 there were already 1,200 people onboard, so the ship started slowly on her trip back to Constanţa After the break of day on 12 May, Dacia was attacked by three waves of Soviet torpedo bombers, but these were scattered by the ship’s 105-mm (4.13-in) guns and scored no hits. At 08.53 the rudder was damaged by the near-miss of a bomb, however, and the ship had to stop as repairs were effected, at this time being protected by Regina Maria. At 09.32 Dacia was able to get under way once more, and at about 16.00 reached Constanţa Some 25 of the German soldiers on board had been killed during the Soviet air attacks.
Regina Maria got closer to the shore and started to load soldiers from a ferry pontoon in an operation which started at 23.16 and ended at 00.44 after 650 men had been embarked. The destroyer suffered no damage in this period, and departed immediately for Constanţa at maximum speed. At 02.22 on 13 May Regina Maria passed Capitan Constantin Dumitrescu and UJ 105, and at 05.44 came up to Dacia and provided protection during the rest of the trip. The convoy entered the harbour at 16.09.
Amiral Murgescu was the last Romanian vessel left off the inferno at Khersones. By 02.00 on 13 May she had around 1,000 soldiers on board, and departed for Romania, which she reached at 17.00. Just after the departure of Amiral Murgescu, KT 18, UJ 108 and one minesweeper and left, followed by Laudon, Dresden, Uskok and several light submarine chasers, and 'Operation 60,000' was over. Several ferry pontoons lingered to embark as many more soldiers as they could, and then they too headed for Constanţa At 03.30 hours, the 13 boats of the 1st Schnellboots-Flottille, which had shielded the evacuation against a possible surface ship attack by the Black Sea Fleet, left Crimea with Konteradmiral Otto Schultz, the German naval commander in the peninsula, and who had co-ordinated the operations at Khersones. The last men saved were 57 Germans picked up by three S-boote from life rafts just off the coast.
The losses associated with the operation continued to mount. The German motor lighter Geiserich was sunk in an attack by a formation of 11 Il-2 warplanes. UJ 310 was seriously damaged by Soviet artillery and had to be scuttled. The most important loss, however, was that of the cargo ship Durostor, which was attacked some 85 miles (135 km) from Khersones by 12 Pe-2 warplanes and hit by two bombs, which immobilised it. The crew was rescued by three minesweepers of the escort, and the ship sank soon after this.
In this second phase of Operation 60,000, 47,825 men had been shifted by sea to Constanţa: these were 15,078 Romanians, 28,992 Germans and 3,755 Russians (volunteers, prisoners of war and civilians). About 10,000 men, of whom 4,000 were Romanians, were lost during the crossing. Regele Ferdinand had 12 men of her crew killed and 28 wounded, Dacia three killed and 22 wounded, and Sublocotenent Ion Ghiculescu one missing and one wounded. Three Romanian-flagged transport vessels, totalling 4,598 tons, were sunk and two warships were damaged. The Germans lost five ships, three tugs and two lighters totalling 11,196 tons and another vessel was damaged. Four German submarine chasers were sunk, as were three S-boote. Another six submarine chasers were damaged. Two Hungarian transport vessels were damaged.
Between 14 April and 13 May, a total of 120,853 persons and 22,548 tons of supplies were evacuated by sea from Crimea: the evacuees comprised 36,557 Romanians, of whom 4,262 were wounded, 58,486 Germans, of whom 12,027 were wounded, 723 Slovaks, 15,391 Russian volunteers, 2,581 prisoners of war, and 7,115 civilians.
The Romanian navy received the thanks of Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz, the commander-in-chief of the Kriegsmarine, and of Vizeadmiral Helmuth Brinkmann, commander of the German naval forces in the Black Sea, for its efforts during the evacuation, in which the Germans were very surprised to see valuable warships such as the destroyers risked close enough to the coast to be shelled by the Soviet artillery.
Given the conditions in which it took place, the operation was a notable success. The distance between Constanţa and Sevastopol is 255 miles (410 km), and the crossing lasted, on average, about 24 hours. Air support was limited and, after the loss of the last airfield at Khersones, non-existent, giving the Soviet bombers and attack aircraft a free hand. Fortunately for the Axis force, the Black Sea Fleet limited its efforts against the convoys to submarine and motor torpedo boat attacks, and did not risk any of its larger surface ships for fear of Luftwaffe bombers.
It is clear that the intransigence of Hitler about authorising the evacuation of the 17th Army had seriously delayed 'Operation 60,000', which would otherwise have been able to extract more of the 220,000 men on this army’s strength in April 1944.