Ships hit by U-boats

West Kebar

American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

NameWest Kebar
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,620 tons
Completed1920 - Long Beach Shipbuilding Co, Long Beach CA 
OwnerAmerican-West African Line Inc, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack30 Oct 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-129 (Hans-Ludwig Witt)
Position14° 57'N, 53° 37'W - Grid EE 6413
Complement57 (3 dead and 54 survivors).
RouteLagos - Freetown - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - New York 
Cargo5600 tons of manganese ore, 950 tons of palm oil, 940 tons of mahogany, 60 tons of rubber and 200 tons of general cargo 
History Completed in December 1920 for US Shipping Board (USSB). 
Notes on event

At 00.11 hours on 30 Oct 1942 the unescorted West Kebar (Master Dwight A. Smith) was hit on the starboard side by one torpedo from U-129 while steaming on a nonevasive course at 9 knots about 350 miles northeast of Barbados. The torpedo struck amidships in the #3 deep tank, blew a hole 25 by 30 feet in the bulkhead between #3 hold and the engine room, stopped the engines, destroyed both starboard lifeboats and killed one officer and two crewmen on watch below. The surviving eight officers, 27 crewmen, eleven armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, four 20mm and two .30cal guns) and eight passengers abandoned ship in two lifeboats and a raft in 20 minutes. At 01.35 hours, a coup de grĂ¢ce hit on the port side that broke the ship in two and caused her to sink within two minutes. The Germans tried to question the survivors in heavy rain but had to hail the master and the radio operator over to the U-boat to understand them.

One lifeboat swamped on launching and had to be bailed for two hours by the eight occupants, so they lost contact to the others and landed after nine days on a small island off Guadeloupe, were brought to the main island by a small boat on 10 November, taken to Martinique by the French motor merchant Guadeloupe and then flown to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The 34 survivors in another boat were picked up by a British patrol boat on 7 November and taken to Barbados. The twelve men on the raft were picked up by the Spanish motor tanker Campero on 12 November.

On boardWe have details of 4 people who were on board

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