Ships hit by U-boats

Byron D. Benson

American Steam tanker

NameByron D. Benson
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage7,953 tons
Completed1922 - O. Daniels Shipbuilding Co, Tampa FL 
OwnerTide Water Associated Oil Co, New York 
Date of attack5 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-552 (Erich Topp)
Position36° 08'N, 75° 32'W - Grid CA 7652
Complement37 (10 dead and 27 survivors).
RoutePort Arthur, Texas - Bayonne, New Jersey 
Cargo91500 barrels of crude oil 
Notes on event

The unarmed Byron D. Benson formed a small convoy with the American steam tanker Gulf of Mexico (7807 grt), the USS Hamilton (DMS 18) and HMS Norwich City (FY 229).

At 04.47 hours on 5 April 1942, U-552 fired one torpedo from a distance of 1000 yards 7.5 miles off Currituck Inlet, North Carolina and hit the Byron D. Benson (Master John G. MacMillan) amidships between the #7 and #8 tanks. The explosion sent burning oil hundreds of feet in the air and all over the after part of the tanker. The crew of eight officers and 29 men in panic began abandoning ship in two lifeboats without orders, so that the engines were never secured and the vessel was still moving at six knots. Ten men in the boat of the master were seen drifting into flaming water and were not seen again. Four officers and 21 men in the other lifeboat were picked up by the USS Hamilton (DMS 18), one crewman on a raft was picked up by the trawler and another was later found by the US Coast Guard cutter USS Dione. All survivors were landed at Norfolk, Virginia. The burning tanker did not sink until three days later.

On boardWe have details of 11 people who were on board

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats