Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam tanker

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage2,881 tons
Completed1901 - Chicago Shipbuilding Co, Chicago IL 
OwnerPetroleum Navigation Co, Houston TX 
Date of attack30 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-507 (Harro Schacht)
Position21° 13'N, 76° 05'W - Grid DN 7137
Complement33 (5 dead and 28 survivors).
RouteTampa, Florida (27 Apr) - Banes, Cuba 
CargoWater ballast in tanks #1, #3 and #5 
History Completed in March 1901 as steam merchant Northwestern for Northwestern SS Co, Cleveland OH. 1905 converted to tanker for The Texas Co, Port Arthur TX. On 11 Feb 1920, partially burned out at Port Neches, Texas. 1921 rebuilt and returned to service as Federal for American Petroleum Co, Houston TX. 1926 transferred to Petroleum Navigation Co, Houston TX. 
Notes on event

On 30 April 1942 the unescorted and unarmed Federal (Master Walter Furst) proceeded on a zigzag course at 8 knots for Cuba to obtain a cargo of molasses, when a lookout spotted U-507 three miles away on the horizon. The tanker changed course for land and the U-boat submerged. At 18.10 hours, U-507 surfaced about 450 yards away and began shelling the ship about five miles north of Gibara, Cuba. The first shell went through the quarters of the crew, killing the chief cook and wounding the third mate. After approximately 30 rounds at the rate of three to four rounds per minute the crew of eight officers and 25 men abandoned ship in one lifeboat and two rafts. The shellfire had destroyed the #3 and #4 lifeboat and made it impossible to launch the #2 boat. U-507 approached the tanker close to the port side and put more then 100 rounds into her. The wooden bridge was set on fire and three men were killed. The Federal settled on even keel, then listed to port, capsized and sank stern first an hour after the first shot was fired. A US Navy aircraft arrived at the scene one hour after the ship sank, followed by a second aircraft 20 minutes later. They unsuccessfully searched for the U-boat and other survivors. At 21.15 hours, the US Army transport Yarmouth circled the survivors several times and steamed away, due the danger of being torpedoed. The 15 survivors on the rafts were picked up by fishing craft from Gibara two and a half hours after the attack. The 14 survivors in the boat followed the craft to shore. The third mate died from wounds after reaching shore.

On boardWe have details of 6 people who were on board

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