Ships hit by U-boats

J.A. Mowinckel

Panamanian Motor tanker

NameJ.A. Mowinckel
Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage11,147 tons
Completed1930 - Cantiere Riuniti dell’ Adriatico (CRDA), Monfalcone 
OwnerPanama Transport Co (Standard Oil Co), Panama 
Date of attack15 Jul 1942Nationality:      Panamanian
FateDamaged by U-576 (Hans-Dieter Heinicke)
Position33° 44'N, 75° 19'W - Grid DC 1535
Complement59 (2 dead and 57 survivors).
RouteNew York - Aruba 
Cargo6000 tons fresh water and some dry cargo 
History Completed in November 1930 as J.A. Mowinckel for Baltisch-Amerikanische Petroleum Import GmbH, Danzig. 1935 transferred to Panama Transport Co, Panama.

1950 renamed Orionis for Soc National del Mar SA (Orion Shipping & Trading Co Inc), Panama. 1951 renamed Seacastle and later that year renamed Audacious for the same owner. 1953 renamed Platanos for Puerto Miramar Cia de Navegacion SA (Orion Shipping & Trading Co Inc), Panama. Broken up at Blyth in April 1954. 
Notes on event

Between 20.20 and 20.25 hours on 15 July 1942, U-576 fired four torpedoes at convoy KS-520, the first damaged the Chilore, the second damaged the J.A. Mowinckel, the third sank the Bluefields and the fourth missed the second ship. The U-boat was lost after this attack.

The J.A. Mowinckel (Master Harold Griffiths) was struck by one torpedo in the stern and a second passed astern. The torpedo hit about eight feet below the waterline, blowing a hole in the hull through the after peak and steering engine room. The steering gear, the galley, messrooms and after gun platform were wrecked. The engine room took water because the after bulkhead was ruptured. 11 crew members and 5 armed guards were wounded by the torpedo explosion. One crewman later died of wounds and one armed guard died on 21 July in the Marine Hospital in Norfolk.

The convoy commodore (Capt Newton L. Nichols, USN) on the J.A. Mowinckel joined the Chilore together with USS Spry (PG 64) and decided to head for shoal water to anchor. The commodore was unaware of a US mine field that extended in an arc of ten miles out to sea from Cape Hatteras to two miles out below Ocracoke Inlet. As the ships headed for the mine field, a US Navy blimp dropped smoke bombs to warn the ships, but they thought it was a warning from U-boats in the area. Four hours after the attack, the Chilore struck two mines and was lost. The J.A. Mowinckel also struck a mine on the starboard side at #2 tank. The anchor was dropped and the 46 crew members and 13 armed guards abandoned ship in four lifeboats after one hour. At 07.30 hours on 16 July, two of the boats landed at Ocracoke Inlet and the other two were towed by a US coast guard boat to the same place.

At 07.00 hours on 20 July, the American tug J.P. Martin towed the tanker to Hatteras Inlet where she was beached and pumped out. On the next day, the vessel was floated, but at 07.00 hours on 22 July, the J.A. Mowinckel struck another mine at #7 tank, which filled with water. The next day, after pumping out this tank, the tugs Relief and USS Scotia towed the tanker to Baltimore for repairs under the escort of two corvettes. They arrived at Hampton Roads on 25 July and then Baltimore for temporary repairs. On 6 September, the vessel left Baltimore in tow for New York, arriving four days later. On 12 March 1943 the repairs were completed and the ship left for Aruba the next day.

On boardWe have details of 60 people who were on board

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