Ships hit by U-boats

Port Nicholson

British Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Allan C. Green Collection

NamePort Nicholson
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage8,402 tons
Completed1919 - R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co Ltd, Hebburn-on-Tyne 
OwnerPort Line Ltd, London 
Date of attack16 Jun 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-87 (Joachim Berger)
Position42° 11'N, 69° 25'W - Grid CA 3268
Complement91 (6 dead and 85 survivors).
RouteAvonmouth - Barry - Halifax (14 Jun) - New York - Panama - Wellington 
Cargo1600 tons of automobile parts and 4000 tons of military stores 
History Completed in May 1919. In 1928 the Port Nicholson had to put into Pago Pago during a voyage to New Zealand when her cargo caught fire. She was again damaged by fire in 1937 when moored adjacent to the Government Cool Stores in Melbourne that caught fire. The ship had cattle on board and these were saved by having water hosed onto them as they waited in their pens. In 1938 the Port Nicholson collided with the British tug Ocean Cock (182 grt), which sank with the loss of four lives. 
Notes on event

At 04.17 hours on 16 June 1942, U-87 fired one torpedo at the leading ship of convoy XB-25 northeast of Cape Cod during a gale and fired at 04.18 hours a second torpedo at another ship. Berger observed how the first hit and thought that the second missed, but apparently both hit Port Nicholson. At 04.21 hours, a spread of two torpedoes was fired which both hit Cherokee.

The Port Nicholson (Master Harold Charles Jeffery) was first hit in the engine room where two crew members on watch below were killed, a second torpedo hit aft and caused her to settle by the stern, while HMCS Nanaimo (K 101) (T/Lt T.J. Bellas, RCNR) took off the master, 80 crew members and four gunners. At dawn, the ship was still afloat and it was decided to reboard her to assess the damage and chances of salvage. The boarding party consisted of the master, the chief engineer and one officer and three ratings from the corvette. After they had boarded the vessel, wind came up and the rough seas broke the weakened bulkheads causing her to sink quickly by the stern. The men climbed down the ladders and got into the lifeboat but the suction of the sinking ship overturned the lifeboat, drowning the master, the chief engineer, the officer (Lt John Molson Walkley, RCNVR) and one rating. The surviving two men from the boarding party were picked up by the corvette, which then brought the survivors to Boston, Massachusetts.

Twelve survivors from the Port Nicholson were later repatriated on the Cape Race, which was sunk by U-660 (Baur) in convoy SC-94 on 10 August. All survived the sinking and were rescued.

On boardWe have details of 8 people who were on board

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