Ships hit by U-boats


American Motor tanker

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage7,050 tons
Completed1920 - Baltimore Dry Docks & Shipbuilding Co, Baltimore MD 
OwnerSocony-Vacuum Oil Co Inc, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack10 May 1942Nationality:      American
FateDamaged by U-506 (Erich W├╝rdemann)
Position28° 35'N, 90° 00'W - Grid DA 9288
Complement50 (1 dead and 49 survivors).
RouteNew York - Beaumont, Texas 
CargoWater ballast 
History Completed in May 1920 as steam tanker Miller County for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1923 converted to a motor tanker by the builder for Sun Oil Company, Philadelphia PA. 1927 renamed Aurora for Standard Transportation Co Inc, New York. 1935 transferred to Socony-Vacuum Oil Co Inc, New York.

In August 1942 the badly damaged Aurora was taken over by the US War Shipping Administration, repaired and returned to service in 1943 as Jamestown. In April 1945 acquired by the US Navy and commissioned as station tanker USS Mariveles (IX 197), serving the Pacific fleet in the Philippines.

In June 1946 returned worned out to the US War Shipping Administration under her old name Jamestown. Broken up at Shanghai in March 1948. 
Notes on event

At 09.31 hours on 10 May 1942 the unescorted Aurora (Master William H. Sheldon) was struck by a torpedo from U-506 on the starboard side aft of the bridge in the #6 tank about 40 miles off Southwest Pass, Louisiana. She immediately took a list to starboard, but by shifting ballast returned to an even keel. The master proceeded and kept most of the men on deck near lifeboats. 90 minutes later a second torpedo hit just aft of the first, in tank #8 and a third torpedo struck at the #4 tank. The U-boat surfaced and began shelling the tanker, causing a fire in the paint locker. The armed guards did not return fire with the 5in gun on the stern and the two .30cal guns. Shrapnel wounded the radio operator and the chief mate, who died later on one of the rafts. All hands (nine officers, 29 men and 12 armed guards) abandoned ship in two boats and three rafts. W├╝rdemann thought that the tanker will sink and departed. Later the master reboarded the Aurora. At 17.00 hours, the patrol vessels USS Onyx (PYc 5) and USS YP-157 picked up the survivors. The US Coast Guard tug USS Tuckahoe (WYT 89) arrived and sent a rescue party on board with fire hose and extinguishers. Together with the tug Robert W. Wilmot, the Aurora was towed to Algiers, Louisiana, where she was initally declared a total loss, but later repaired.

On boardWe have details of 3 people who were on board

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