Ships hit by U-boats

John D. Gill

American Steam tanker

Photo courtesy of Arco Marine

NameJohn D. Gill
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage11,641 tons
Completed1942 - Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, Chester PA 
OwnerAtlantic Refining Co, Philadelphia PA 
Date of attack13 Mar 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-158 (Erwin Rostin)
Position33° 55'N, 77° 39'W - Grid DB 3399
Complement49 (23 dead and 26 survivors).
RouteAtreco, Texas (7 Mar) - Charleston (12 Mar) - Philadelphia 
Cargo141,981 barrels of crude oil 
History Completed in January 1942 
Notes on event

At 05.05 hours on 13 March 1942 the unescorted John D. Gill (Master Allen Delmar Tucker) was torpedoed by U-158 about 25 miles east of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The vessel on her second voyage had stopped zigzagging for about 20 minutes off Frying Pan Shoals, flashed the running lights and then continued on a zigzag course at 15 knots. One torpedo struck on the starboard side amidships under the mainmast in the #7 tank. The tanker seemed to lift out of the water and move sideways, but the explosion did not ignite the cargo. The oil was ignited when a seaman tossed a life ring with a self-igniting carbide light overboard. The ship and sea was turned in a blazing inferno, forcing the eight officers and 34 crewmen to abandon ship within eight minutes, followed by the seven armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) seven minutes later. While lowering one of the after boats, the lines became fouled and the occupants were spilled into the sea. At least two of them were killed by the still turning prop. The survivors left the ship in only one of the four lifeboats and one of the six rafts. After abandoning, the tanker was rocked by a series of explosions as one tank after another ignited and exploded. The burned out vessel sank after nine hours in position 33°51’59N"/77°28’49"W.

Eight crew members and three armed guards were picked up by the US Coast Guard vessel USCGC CG-4405, transferred to USCGC Agassiz (WPC 126) and landed at Southport, North Carolina. 15 survivors in the lifeboat were picked up by the Robert H. Colley and taken to Charleston, South Carolina. Six officers, 13 crewmen and four armed guards were lost and many of the survivors were badly burned.

On boardWe have details of 49 people who were on board

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