Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

Type:Steam merchant (Hog Island)
Tonnage4,983 tons
Completed1919 - American International Shipbuilding Corp, Hog Island PA 
OwnerUS Lines Inc, New York 
Date of attack19 Oct 1941Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-126 (Ernst Bauer)
Position8° 26'N, 14° 37'W - Grid ET 2937
Complement44 (0 dead and 44 survivors).
RouteBilbao, Spain - Takoradi, Gold Coast 
History Laid down as Senatobia, completed in July 1919 as Lehigh for US Shipping Board (USSB), Philadelphia. 
Notes on event

At 10.51 hours on 19 Oct 1941 the unescorted and unarmed Lehigh (Master Vincent Patrick Arkins) was hit on the starboard side at the #5 hold by one torpedo from U-126 about 82 miles west of Freetown. The ship was stopped and 35 minutes after the hit abandoned by the ten officers, 30 crewmen and four Spanish stowaways in four lifeboats. The radio operator and two other men reboarded the vessel and unsuccessfully tried to send a message before she sank by the stern at 13.10 hours. The survivors in two lifeboats were picked up by two British motor launches of the 17th ML Flotilla, one of which was HMS ML-263 (Lt Kelvin J. Vaughan, RANVR). The remaining survivors, five of them injured, were picked up two days after the sinking from the two other boats by HMS Vimy (D 33) (LtCdr H.G.D. de Chair, RN).

The Lehigh was sunk 49 days before war was officially declared against the USA by the Axis, despite the American markings on the ship, which were clearly visible at the time of the attack. The vessel was zigzagging and Bauer looking through the periscope, thought she was a Greek ship at first. He saw the USA markings only after he had fired the torpedo from a distance of about 2500 meters.

On boardWe have details of 40 people who were on board

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