Ships hit by U-boats

Esso Bolivar

Panamanian Motor tanker

NameEsso Bolivar
Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage10,389 tons
Completed1937 - Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft AG, Kiel 
OwnerPanama Transport Co (Standard Oil Co), Panama 
Date of attack8 Mar 1942Nationality:      Panamanian
FateDamaged by U-126 (Ernst Bauer)
Position19° 38'N, 74° 38'W - Grid DN 7921
Complement50 (8 dead and 42 survivors).
RouteNew York (26 Feb) - Newport News (1 Mar) - Aruba 
Cargo10,500 tons of fresh water, 500 tons of commissary stores, deck cargo of acetylene cylinders 
History Completed in July 1937

1953 registered in Germany for Esso Tankschiff Reederei GmbH, Hamburg. Broken up at Hamburg in 1960. 
Notes on event

About 09.00 hours on 8 March 1942 the unescorted Esso Bolivar (Master James M. Stewart) was attacked by U-126 with gunfire about 30 miles southeast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Shells struck the after house, wheelhouse and the midship house. The third shell exploded in the afterhouse starting a fire in the galley which soon spread and blazed upward like a flaming torch driving the gun crew from the after gun. Bulkheads caved from the intense heat. About one hour later the engines were stopped because the steering gear was shot away and the deck cargo was set on fire. At 11.17 hours, a torpedo struck on the starboard side blowing part of the deck cargo several hundred feet into the air and making a hole 50 x 35 feet next to the pumproom. She took a heavy list to port but stayed afloat. Of the 44 crew members and six armed guards on board (the ship was armed with one stern gun and four .30cal guns), seven crew members, including the master and chief mate and one armed guard died and ten crewmen and four armed guards were injured. The survivors abandoned ship in four rafts and one lifeboat, which picked up the men swimming in the water. All were picked up by USS Endurance (AMc 77) and taken to Guantanamo Naval Base. The abandoned tanker was towed to Guantanamo Bay and left on 25 March under her own power with a Naval escort, arriving Mobile five days later. The permanent repairs were completed on 24 July and the ship returned to service on 6 August, when the tanker left Corpus Christi, Texas with a full cargo for New York.

The chief mate Hawkings Fudske was awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal (MMDS) posthumously and a Liberty ship was named after him. The chief engineer Thomas J. McTaggart, fireman Arthur Lauman and able seaman Charles Richardson were also awarded the MMDS for bravery in the attack on this ship.

On boardWe have details of 50 people who were on board

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