Ships hit by U-boats

Deer Lodge

American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of SSHSA Collection, University of Baltimore Library

NameDeer Lodge
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage6,187 tons
Completed1919 - Northwest Steel Co, Portland OR 
OwnerMoore-McCormack SS Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack17 Feb 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-516 (Gerhard Wiebe)
Position33° 46'S, 26° 57'E - Grid KZ 4113
Complement57 (2 dead and 55 survivors).
RouteBaltimore, Maryland - Durban, South Africa - Aden - Suez 
Cargo6250 tons of general cargo, including oil and steel and deck cargo of 3 trucks and 4 locomotives 

Laid down as West Chane, completed in July 1919 as Deer Lodge for US Maritime Commission, Washington DC. Later laid up as reserve

On 28 Feb 1942, the Deer Lodge (Master Alexander Smith Henry) left New York and arrived at Murmansk on 6 May in convoy PQ-15 via Newport, Boston, Halifax, River Clyde and Reykjavik. On 18 May she laid anchored at Kola Inlet after she had discharged her cargo and was attacked by six German dive bombers. The explosions lifted the stern out of the water, buckling and twisting the vessel with each detonation. She settled quickly by the stern and the chief engineer saved her from sinking by closing the watertight door from the shaft alley. The bombs had severly damaged the ship and she was moved to shallow waters near Rosta. On 27 May seven German aircraft attacked again, but they did no serious damage. After some repairs she was moved to the repair yard, where she was attacked a third time by German aircraft on 29 June. One bomb landed off the port bow, but only slightly damaged the ship. There were no casualties among her crew in any of these attacks. On 29 July, she arrvied at Archangel and loaded 3650 tons of chrome ore. Leaving on 13 September, she arrived in New York on 11 November in convoy ON-141 via Loch Ewe and Glasgow.

Notes on event

On 17 Feb 1943 the unescorted Deer Lodge (Master Irving Dana Jensen) was spotted and followed on the surface by U-516 about 60 miles east of Port Elizabeth. Lookouts saw the U-boat and the master attempted to escape by zigzagging, but the steering gear broke. At 02.24 hours, the now submerged U-516 fired one torpedo, which struck on the port side at the #2 hold. The explosion threw up a tremendous column of water, tore up the decks, blew the deck cargo off the ship and flooded the hold. 20 minutes later a second torpedo struck at approximately the same location, breaking the ship in two. The engines were stopped and her crew of ten officers, 29 men and 18 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in and six 20mm guns) abandoned ship in three lifeboats and three rafts. One seaman died when the davit from the #4 lifeboat broke off and fell on him and a steward failed to leave the ship. The U-boat surfaced beneath the boats and Wiebe questioned the survivors. The Deer Lodge sank bow first with a slight list to port at 04.20 hours.
The following morning the survivors redistributed into three boats and one raft. 13 men were picked up by the South African minesweeper HMSAS Africana (T 01). The London trawler Havorn rescued another 32. These two ships brought the men to Port Elizabeth. On 20 February, the remaining ten men were picked up by the British hospital ship HMHS Atlantis and landed at Capetown.

On boardWe have details of 4 people who were on board

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