At 1837hrs Irma, sailing in Hustadvika Bay by Hestskjær Lighthouse off the port of Kristiansund in Møre og Romsdal, suffered a large explosion in the bow area. The initial explosion, which caused massive damage, was followed by another amidships shortly thereafter, the ship immediately starting to sink. During the incident Irma was in the same area as the 1907 Norwegian cargo ship SS Henry. Henry was sunk shortly after Irma. In addition to what turned out to be torpedo strikes the two ships were subjected to in total 2,034 rounds of heavy machine gun fire. Sixty-one civilian Norwegians died on Irma, another two on Henry. Only 25 people survived the sinking of Irma and for days afterwards dead bodies washed ashore on the Norwegian coast as far north as Namsos. Before Henry was sunk she had been able to launch two of her lifeboats and these first saved several of their own crewmen before moving to the location where Irma had gone down and rescuing some survivors from floating rafts. About an hour into the incident the tugboat Hopplafjord passed the scene and rescued further survivors from rafts. The fishing boat Sveggøy also rescued 12 survivors from a raft after the sinking.
Irma's sinking constituted the last major loss for the Hurtigruten service during the Second World War, with numerous coastal passenger ships having up to that point been lost to mines, air and submarine attacks since the April 1940 German invasion of Norway.
The wreck of Irma was discovered by a geological survey vessel on 3 November 1999 north of Averøy at a depth of 200 metres (660 ft).
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