Ships hit by U-boats

Cities Service Empire

American Steam tanker

The Cities Service Empire under her fromer name Ampetco

NameCities Service Empire
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage8,103 tons
Completed1918 - Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Sparrow´s Point MD 
OwnerCities Service Oil Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack22 Feb 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-128 (Ulrich Heyse)
Position28° 25'N, 80° 02'W - Grid DB 9439
Complement50 (14 dead and 36 survivors).
RoutePort Arthur, Texas - Philadelphia 
Cargo9400 barrels of crude oil 
History Built as Ampetco 1928 renamed Cities Service Empire 
Notes on event

At 11.51 hours on 22 Feb 1942 the unescorted Cities Service Empire (Master William Faucett Jerman, Jr.) was hit by two torpedoes from U-128 about 25 miles north of Bethel Shoals off the Florida coast. The tanker had maintained a nonevasive course at 10 knots in moderate to heavy seas and had been missed by the first four torpedoes. The torpedoes struck the vessel amidships at the after pump room deep in the ship´s bowles on the starboard side. Fire broke out immediately and within seconds the ship and the water around the tanker were ablaze. The armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) were driven away from their guns and the master gave the order to abandon ship after 10 minutes. All lifeboats had been destroyed by the fire and only two rafts could be launched. Most of the crew of eight officers, 33 men and nine armed guards jumped overboard.
The US Coast Guard cutter USS Vigilant (WPC 154) reached the burning ship and the commanding officer saw three men at the bow of the tanker. Nosing his ship up to the burning tanker, some men crawled aboard the ship and battled the flames until they rescued two of them. But before they could go back for the third, the tanker exploded, showered the cutter with unignited oil from stem to stern, broke in two and sank at 12.10 hours. The master, three armed guards and ten crewmen died. The 34 survivors on the rafts were later picked up by the USS Biddle (DD 151) and taken to Fort Pierce, Florida.

On boardWe have details of 22 people who were on board

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