Ships hit by U-boats


Panamanian Steam merchant

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage6,210 tons
Completed1906 - Barclay, Curle & Co, Whiteinch, Glasgow 
OwnerInternational Freighting Co Inc, New York 
Date of attack27 Mar 1942Nationality:      Panamanian
FateSunk by U-160 (Georg Lassen)
Position36° 36'N, 74° 45'W - Grid CA 84
Complement54 (41 dead and 13 survivors).
RouteRio de Janeiro (5 Mar) - Baltimore 
Cargo8000 tons of Manganese ore 

Built as Chanda, renamed Italian Pietro Campanella for Società di Navigazione Tito Campanella, Genoa.

On 10 Jun 1940, the Pietro Campanella was at Baltimore and on 23 Aug 1941 was seized by US on Executive order. Delivered to War Shipping Administration (WSA) on 11 September, renamed Equipoise and registered in Panama. On 3 October given to International Freighting Co under GAA agreement.

Notes on event

On 17 Jan 1942 the Equipoise had left New York with a load of general cargo stopping at Norfolk on 19 and leaving there on 23 January. She arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 25 February and left on 5 March.

At 02.38 hours on 27 March 1942 the unescorted and not zigzagging Equipoise (Master John Anderson) was hit by one torpedo from U-160 about 60 miles southeast of Cape Henry. The torpedo struck on the starboard side between #1 and #2 hatches, blowing out the bottom of the ship, causing her to sink within two minutes. The 54 crew members, which were trained to use the 4in gun on the stern and the four machine guns on the bridge and stern, launched two lifeboats and two rafts. One lifeboat capsized when it hit the water and the other was launched without men in it. Nine survivors climbed aboard the empty boat, but the badly injured master died shortly thereafter and was buried at sea, leaving the third mate as the only surviving officer. Two days later, 13 survivors and one body were picked up by USS Greer (DD 145) and taken to the Norfolk Naval Base, arriving the next day. Seven survivors had to be hospitalized.

The crew was made up of seamen of many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Brazil, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Denmark and USA. One of the survivors said the confusion after the torpedo hit was very intense among the crew. They could not understand one another and orders were misunderstood or disregarded.

On boardWe have details of 54 people who were on board

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