Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam tanker

We don't have a picture of this vessel at this time.

Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage7,542 tons
Completed1916 - Union Iron Works, San Francisco CA 
OwnerSocony-Vacuum Oil Co Inc, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack2 Dec 1941Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-43 (Wolfgang Lüth)
Position35° 40'N, 24° 00'W - Grid CF 7588
Complement37 (37 dead - no survivors)
RouteAruba - Lisbon, Portugal 
Cargo78200 bbls of gasoline and kerosene 
Notes on event

The neutrally marked Astral (Master Chris Alsager) was reported missing after 2 Dec 1941.

At 17.00 hours on 1 December, U-575 (Heydemann) spotted the unescorted and unarmed tanker and tracked her until 20.57 hours. Then Heydemann noticed the painted American flag on the side and let her go. Also about 17.00 hours, U-43 spotted the tanker, followed her and missed with a first torpedo shot at 24.00 hours. The torpedo must have been seen by someone on the Astral, because she immediately began steaming a zigzag course at full speed to escape. The U-boat followed throughout the full moon night. At 09.24 hours on 2 December, the tanker was hit by two torpedoes, one in the stern and one amidships. The Astral exploded into flames and sank within minutes. The flaming cargo in the water burned for an hour longer. No survivors among the eight officers and 29 men on board.

This was the third of the four American merchant ships sunk by U-boats prior to America´s entry to the war. The others were Robin Moor, Lehigh and Sagadahoc.

On boardWe have details of 37 people who were on board

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