Ships hit by U-boats

Esso Baton Rouge

American Steam tanker

NameEsso Baton Rouge
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage7,989 tons
Completed1938 - Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Sparrow´s Point MD 
OwnerStandard Oil Co of New Jersey, New York 
Date of attack23 Feb 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-202 (Günter Poser)
Position31° 15'N, 27° 22'W - Grid DG 5624
Complement68 (3 dead and 65 survivors).
RouteSwansea, South Wales (16 Feb) - Curaçao 
CargoWater ballast 
History Completed in July 1938

At 08.44 hours on 8 Apr 1942, the unescorted and unarmed Esso Baton Rouge (Master James S. Poche) was hit by one G7e torpedo from U-123 (Hardegen) about 15 miles northeast of St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 31°02N/80°53W while proceeding zigzagging on an inshore route at 13.5 knots from Baytown, Texas to New York with 89.398 barrels of heating and lubricating oil. The tanker had been spotted in the bright moonlight by U-123, after the U-boat had torpedoed the Oklahoma at 07.52 hours. The torpedo struck the starboard side between the after bunkers and the engine room. A cloud of smoke and flame shot upwards and the engine room and the quarters for the crew flooded immediately. The ship quickly sank by the stern in 40 feet of water and settled with the stern resting on the bottom. Most of the eight officers and 31 men abandoned ship in two lifeboats. Two men had been killed by the explosion in the engine room. Another jumped overboard and was never seen again. U-123 left the sinking Esso Baton Rouge to finish off the Oklahoma with gunfire. The survivors of both ships headed together for the Georgia coast. The next morning an US Coast Guard boat took them in tow and landed them at Brunswick.
The Esso Baton Rouge was floated by the salvage tug Resolute and with the help of USS Willet (ARS 12) towed to St. Simon Sound. Temporary repairs were made at Brunswick and on 14 May, the tanker was towed by the tugs Kevin Moran and Henry W. Card to Baltimore, Maryland, arriving on 22 May. Permanent repairs were made there and the ship returned to service on 30 Nov 1942.

Notes on event

Between 22.17 and 22.20 hours on 23 Feb 1943, U-202 fired four bow torpedoes at convoy UC-1 about 400 miles south of the Azores and damaged the Murena, British Fortitude and Empire Norseman. At 22.21 hours, the stern torpedo was fired, which hit the Esso Baton Rouge.

The Esso Baton Rouge (Master James S. Poche) in station #43 was struck by the torpedo on the starboard side between the engine room and aft bunkers. The explosion carried away the bulkhead between the tanks and the engine room, filled the latter compartment with burning oil, killed one officer and one man on watch below and stopped the engines. Debris flew over 50 feet in the air and one armed guard was killed. As the ship started to settle by the stern, the eight officers, 35 men and 25 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in three lifeboats, after three rafts were carried away, because the ship still had headway. Within 90 minutes all survivors were picked up by HMS Totland (Y 88) (LtCdr L.E. Woodhouse, RN). The tanker finally sank by the stern about 04.00 hours the next morning. Two crew members and one armed guard, all seriously burned from flaming oil, were treated on the sloop and put ashore at Antigua on 4 March. The remaining survivors were transferred to the Dutch steam merchant Maaskerk and arrived in Trinidad on 6 March.

On boardWe have details of 106 people who were on board

Attack entries for Esso Baton Rouge

DateU-boatCommanderLoss typeTonsNat.
8 Apr 1942U-123Kptlt. Reinhard HardegenDamaged7,989  
23 Feb 1943U-202Kptlt. Günter PoserSunk7,989  

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats