Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam tanker

Photo courtesy of SSHSA Collection, University of Baltimore Library

Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage6,882 tons
Completed1920 - Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Alameda CA 
OwnerGulf Oil Co, New York 
Date of attack3 Apr 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-155 (Adolf Cornelius Piening)
Position24° 26'N, 80° 18'W - Grid DM 2883
Complement61 (43 dead and 18 survivors).
RouteCorpus Christi, Texas (29 Mar) - Galveston - New York - Portland, Maine 
Cargo68.417 barrels of crude oil 
History Completed in September 1920 as Halway for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1923 renamed Gulfstate for Gulf Refining Co Inc, Port Arthur. 
Notes on event

At 09.03 hours on 3 April 1943 the unescorted Gulfstate (Master James Frank Harrell, lost) was hit by two torpedoes from U-155 about 50 miles southeast of Marathon Key, Florida while steaming a nonevasive course at 10.5 knots. The first torpedo struck on the port side directly under the bridge and ripped a large hole in the hull at the waterline, causing immediate flooding and setting the cargo on fire. The second torpedo struck at the engine room. The fire leapt 100 feet in the air and spread from the bridge to the after part of the vessel. The master ordered the engines secured and the ship abandoned, but the vessel sank bow first within four minutes. None of the lifeboats could be launched and all rafts were lost in the fire. Only a single doughnut raft managed to break free of the tanker. The eight officers, 34 crewmen and 19 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, four .50cal and two .30cal guns) had to jump in the water and swim through 600 feet of burning oil surrounding the tanker. The survivors clung to floatsam and the single raft for seven hours before being discovered by a US Navy blimp, which dropped two rubber life rafts. An US Coast Guard seaplane picked up three of the most seriously wounded two hours later and took them to Miami. One hour later the remaining 15 survivors (five of them wounded) were picked up by the American patrol craft USS YP-351. Three of the wounded were later transferred to USS Noa (DD 343) for medical treatment. All survivors were landed at Key West. Eight officers, 26 crewmen and nine armed guards were lost.

On boardWe have details of 38 people who were on board

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