Ships hit by U-boats

Harry Luckenbach

American Steam merchant

Harry Luckenbach under her former name Sol Navis. US Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH44465

NameHarry Luckenbach
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage6,366 tons
Completed1919 - Sun Shipbuilding Co, Chester PA 
OwnerLuckenbach Steamship Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack17 Mar 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-91 (Heinz Walkerling)
Position50° 38'N, 34° 46'W - Grid BD 1353
Complement80 (80 dead - no survivors)
RouteNew York (8 Mar) - UK 
Cargo8381 tons of general cargo 
History Laid down as steam merchant Sol Navis for US Shipping Board (USSB), completed in July 1919 as troop transport USS Sol Navis (ID # 4031-A) and used for repatriation of US troops from Europe. In October 1919 returned to the USSB and possibly used as US Army transport. 1920 renamed Harry Luckenbach for Luckenbach Steamship Co, New York. 
Notes on event

Between 03.37 and 03.41 hours on 17 March 1943, U-91 fired five torpedoes at convoy HX-229 about 400 miles east-southeast of Cape Farewell and observed detonations on two ships, but in fact only the Harry Luckenbach was hit and sunk.

The Harry Luckenbach (Master Ralph McKinnon) was assigned to station #111, the ship had been so exposed that the master had nervously steamed a zigzag course out in front of convoy until ordered to return to his station. The vessel was struck by two torpedoes on the starboard side amidships in the machinery spaces, causing her to sink within 3 minutes in the rough seas. However, some of the nine officers, 45 crew members and 26 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in three lifeboats, which were first spotted by HMS Beverley (H 64) (LtCdr R.A Price, RN) and HMS Volunteer (D 71) (LtCdr G.J. Luther, RN), but not picked up. HMS Anemone (K 48) (LtCdr P.G.A. King, RNR) was ordered to find the lifeboats, after HMS Pennywort (K 111) (Lt O.G. Stuart, RCNVR) had come across them and could not pick up the men because she already had 108 survivors on board. But the other corvette was unable to locate the boats and it is possible that the boats were also seen by HMS Abelia (K 184) (T/A/LtCdr F. Ardern, RNR) on her way from St. Johns to join convoy. None of the men from the Harry Luckenbach were seen or heard from again.

On boardWe have details of 79 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