Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam merchant

Illinois under her former name Las Vegas. Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-2401

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,447 tons
Completed1920 - Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp, San Pedro CA 
OwnerStates SS Co, San Francisco CA 
Date of attack2 Jun 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-159 (Helmut Friedrich Witte)
Position24° 00'N, 60° 00'W - Grid DO 6324
Complement38 (32 dead and 6 survivors).
RouteVizagapatam, India - Colombo - Capetown - Baltimore 
Cargo8000 tons of manganese ore 
History Completed in May 1920 as Las Vegas for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1928 renamed Illinois for States SS Co, San Francisco CA. 
Notes on event

At 02.53 hours on 2 June 1942 the unescorted and unarmed Illinois (Master Hans Mathiesen, lost) was torpedoed and sunk by U-159 about 400 miles northeast of Puerto Rico, while steaming a non-evasive course at 10 knots. Two torpedoes hit amidships, just aft of the bridge. The ship sank within 40 seconds, capsizing to starboard. No distress signal could be sent and no lifeboats could be launched. Only a few men of the eight officers and 30 crew members managed to leave the ship. One officer and five men rightened a capsized lifeboat and remained nearly 20 hours in the area before then sailing a southwesterly course, but found no other survivors. The survivors were picked up by the American steam tanker Esso Montpelier six days after the attack and landed at Port of Spain, Trinidad on 10 June.

On boardWe have details of 32 people who were on board

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