Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam merchant

Kahuku under her former name Shelton. Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-2676

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage6,062 tons
Completed1920 - Pacific Coast Shipbuilding Co, Bay Point CA 
OwnerMatson Navigation Co, San Francisco CA 
HomeportSan Francisco 
Date of attack16 Jun 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-126 (Ernst Bauer)
Position11° 54'N, 63° 07'W - Grid ED 9412
Complement109 (17 dead and 92 survivors).
RouteNew York - Hampton Roads - Trinidad - Table Bay - Busreh - Bandar Shapur 
Cargo7100 tons of general cargo, including cranes, tractors and construction equipment 
History Completed in November 1920 as Cuprum for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1928 renamed Shelton for Tacoma-Oriental SS Co, Tacoma WA. 1937 renamed Kahuku for Matson Navigation Co, San Francisco CA. 
Notes on event

At 03.20 hours on 16 June 1942 the unescorted Kahuku (Master Eric Herbert Johanson) was torpedoed by U-126 about 90 miles west of Grenada, while steaming a zigzagging course at 9.5 knots. Lookouts spotted the wake of the torpedo about 20 yards away from the ship before it struck on the starboard side abaft the bridge about 8 feet below the waterline in the engine room. The eight officers, 28 crewmen, ten armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, two 20mm, two .50cal and one .30cal guns), 17 survivors from the Cold Harbor and 46 survivors from the Scottsburg abandoned ship in two lifeboats and three rafts in some chaos, due to the extra men aboard. The armed guards fired a few shots from the after gun, but soon left the ship. A coup de grâce was fired at 04.15 hours, but the ship remained afloat after the hit. The U-boat surfaced and fired between 05.00 and 05.26 hours approximately 30 shells on the bridge and the radio room, one shell hit the after magazine and the ship sank at 06.20 hours. The master, one officer, four crewmen, three armed guards and eight survivors died. Some men were picked up by U-126 and placed on rafts, but able seaman Archie Gibbs, a survivor from Scottsburg stayed aboard for four days, until he was placed on board the small Venezuelan vessel Minataora about 45 miles off Curaçao and landed there. The remaining survivors were picked up by the American patrol vessels USS Opal (PYc-8) and USS YP-63 and landed at Trinidad.

On boardWe have details of 22 people who were on board

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