Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam tanker

Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage7,104 tons
Completed1936 - Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, Chester PA 
OwnerGulf Oil Co, New York 
Date of attack3 Jul 1942Nationality:      American
FateDamaged by U-126 (Ernst Bauer)
Position11° 40'N, 60° 39'W - Grid ED 9691
Complement49 (3 dead and 46 survivors).
RouteBelém, Brazil - Aruba 
CargoWater ballast 
History Completed in May 1936

At 22.50 hours (EWT) on 21 October 1943, the Gulfbelle (Master Charles P. Wahl, lost) collided with the steam tanker Gulfland (Master Torger Olsen, lost) off Lake Worth Inlet, Florida in position 27°01N/80°01W while en route from New York to Houston, Texas in ballast. Both tankers burst into flames, due to the cargo of gasoline on the Gulfland. Of her complement of 47 crew members and 25 armed guards, only 16 (three badly burned) crew members and 5 (one badly burned) armed guards survived. On the Gulfland 34 crew members and two armed guards lost their lives. The fire was fought by an US Coast Guard fire fighting crew. Gulfland was salvaged but declared a total loss. Gulfbelle was repaired at Jacksonville and returned to service as Poucou on 4 August 1944. 1945 registered in Panama for A.G. Pappadakis.

1949 renamed Poukoulet. Broken up at Bruges in April 1960. 
Notes on event

At 06.14 hours 3 July 1942 the unescorted Gulfbelle (Master Charles P. Wahl) was hit by one torpedo from U-126, while zigzagging at 11 knots 21 miles north of Tobago. The torpedo struck on the starboard quarter, ripped a hole 40 feet square, wrecked the engine room and caused the turbine to fall out of the ship. One officer and one crewman on watch below were killed and two other men seriously injured, one of them later dying of injuries. The armed guards fired one round from the 5in gun, her only armament, at a range of 300 yards on the surfaced U-boat. The shell passed over U-126 which then immediately submerged. At this time most of the crew of eight officers and 33 men had abandoned the ship in three lifeboats, because they did not clearly understand the order from the master to stand by their abandon ship stations. The master, four crewmen and the eight armed guards at the gun remained on board. Two boats drifted away in the choppy seas and were picked up by HMS Warwick (D 25) (Cdr Y. McCleves, DSO, DSC, RNR). The crew in the #4 boat reboarded the ship later and were subsequently transferred to the same destroyer, which towed the tanker to Port of Spain, Trinidad.

The Gulfbelle was towed to Mobile, Alabama, arriving on 8 September. She was repaired and returned to service in July 1943.

On boardWe have details of 4 people who were on board

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats