Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of State Library of New South Wales

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage4,846 tons
Completed1916 - Wm Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co, Philadelphia PA 
OwnerAmerican-Hawaiian SS Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack11 Jun 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-504 (Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske)
Position17° 58'N, 84° 28'W - Grid EB 1140
Complement38 (4 dead and 34 survivors).
RouteSantos, Brazil - New Orleans, LA 
Cargo6500 tons of manganese ore, coffee, gunny sacks, jute and oil 
History Completed in January 1916 as Santa Barbara for Grace SS Co Inc (W.R.Grace), New York. 1925 renamed American for American-Hawaiian SS Co, New York. 
Notes on event

At 18.01 hours on 11 June 1942 the unescorted and unarmed American (Master Robert M. Pierce) was attacked with two torpedoes from U-504 off Honduras as she prepared to alter her zigzag course. The first torpedo struck the after peak tank on the starboard side, about five feet below the waterline, demolishing the after part of the ship, the rudder and the propeller. The second torpedo struck the starboard side at the mainmast in the #4 hold. Eleven minutes later a third torpedo hit the fireroom on the starboard side and caused the boiler to explode. The radio antenna crashed on the deck and water crippled the generators, preventing the radio operator from sending distress signals. The American sank in 25 minutes, listing to starboard and then capsizing. The crew of eight officers and 30 men immediately lowered the #1 and #3 lifeboats and abandoned ship. Some men, trapped by the first explosion, finally reached the deck and launched the #4 lifeboat. Six hours later all survivors were picked up by the British steam merchant Kent about 20 miles west of the sinking and were landed at Cristobal on 14 June. One of the survivors died on the Kent.

On boardWe have details of 6 people who were on board

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