Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam tanker

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Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage7,118 tons
Completed1919 - Wm. Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co, Philadelphia PA 
OwnerSocony-Vacuum Oil Co Inc, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack15 Mar 1942Nationality:      American
FateDamaged by U-158 (Erwin Rostin)
Position34° 22'N, 76° 29'W - Grid DC 1164
Complement42 (6 dead and 36 survivors).
RouteNorfolk, Virginia (14 Mar) - Beaumont, Texas 
Cargowater ballast 
History Built as Alameda 1924 renamed Olean

On 12 Jul 1944, the Sweep was acquired on a bare-boat basis by the US Navy as mobile floating storage tanker USS Silver Cloud (IX 143) at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands. The tanker was stationed in the Marshall Islands until 17 August when she sailed for Manus Island, Admiralty Islands. On 28 August, the USS Silver Cloud (IX 143) dropped anchor in Seeadler Harbor and fueled almost 200 ships before leaving on 28 December for San Pedro Bay, Leyte via Hollandia, New Guinea. On 15 Jan 1945, she arrived at Leyte and remained in the Philippine Islands until 30 December when she sailed via Panama for New Orleans for disposal, arriving on 10 Mar 1946. The next day the tanker sailed for Mobile, arriving one day later, where she was decommissioned and delivered to the US War Shipping Administration (WSA) on 29 March. Struck from the US Navy list on 17 Apr 1946 and sold to Pinto Island Metals Co on 21 Jan 1947. 

Notes on event

At 06.04 hours on 15 March 1942 the unescorted Olean (Master Theodore Bockhoff) was hit by one torpedo from U-158 about 15 miles south of Cape Lookout. The torpedo struck the port quarter in the machinery space, causing the vessel to veer out of control. The gun crew spotted the U-boat but could not depress the gun enough to fire. The eight officers, 30 crewmen and four armed guards began abandon ship, but the first lifeboat capsized because the ship had still headway. These men transferred to another boat, which was destroyed when a coup de grĂ¢ce hit on the starboard side in the engine room at 06.18 hours, killing one officer and five crewmen. The survivors escaped in one boat or swam to three rafts.
The Cape Lookout and Fort Macon Lifeboat Stations each sent a motor lifeboat, which arrived nine hours after the attack, picked up the survivors and landed them at Morehead City, North Carolina.

The Olean was later towed to Hampton Roads and dry docked. First she was declared a total loss, but on 13 June requisitioned by the US War Shipping Administration (WSA), reconstructed as Sweep and returned to service.

On boardWe have details of 8 people who were on board

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