Ships hit by U-boats

Pan Massachusetts

American Steam tanker

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

NamePan Massachusetts
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage8,202 tons
Completed1919 - Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Alameda CA 
OwnerNational Bulk Carriers Inc, New York 
Date of attack19 Feb 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-128 (Ulrich Heyse)
Position28° 27'N, 80° 08'W - Grid DB 9546
Complement38 (20 dead and 18 survivors).
RouteTexas City (15 Feb) - New York 
Cargo104.000 barrels of refined petroleum, gasoline, kerosene and diesel oil 
History Ordered as British steam merchant War Cape for The Shipping Controller, London. Completed in January 1919 as Triumph for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1929 converted to motor merchant and lengthened. 1937 transferred to US Maritime Commission, New York and sold 1938 to National Bulk Carriers Inc, New York, which converted the vessel to the steam tanker Pan Massachusetts
Notes on event

At 19.45 hours on 19 Feb 1942 the unescorted and unarmed Pan Massachusetts (Master Robert E. Christy) was hit by two torpedoes from U-128 about 20 miles off Cape Canaveral, while steaming at 13.5 knots in misty and squally weather. The torpedoes struck on the starboard side amidships and ruptured the tanks and deck. The explosions sprayed the cargo over the length of the vessel and ignited it, turning the tanker into a burning inferno but the full tanks prevented the cargo to explode. Some of the nine officers and 29 crewmen on board jumped overboard and swam underneath the flames to open spots and others went forward and escaped into the water by lowering a mooring line over the side because all lifeboats became victims of the flames before they could be launched. Three officers and 17 crewmen were lost.
The British steam tanker Elizabeth Massey immediately put out a lifeboat to pick up the men in the water, but rough seas hampered the effort until the US Coast Guard ship USS Forward (WAGL 160) took the lifeboat in tow and moved with it through the wreckage. Some bodies were recovered and placed on board the US Coast Guard ship, while all survivors were brought to the tanker and taken to Jacksonville, Florida.

On boardWe have details of 22 people who were on board

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