Ships hit by U-boats

Empire Steel

British Motor tanker

Photo courtesy of The Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

NameEmpire Steel
Type:Motor tanker
Tonnage8,138 tons
Completed1941 - Cammell Laird & Co Ltd, Birkenhead 
OwnerAndrew Weir & Co, London 
Date of attack24 Mar 1942Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-123 (Reinhard Hardegen)
Position37° 45'N, 63° 17'W - Grid CB 8173
Complement47 (39 dead and 8 survivors).
RouteBaton Rouge (13 Mar) - Halifax - UK 
Cargo11.000 tons of aviation spirit and kerosene 
History Completed in March 1941 for Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) 
Notes on event

At 03.01 hours on 24 March 1942 the unescorted Empire Steel (Master William John Gray) was hit by two torpedoes from U-123 and caught fire after the cargo exploded. The U-boat had spotted the zigzagging tanker about 5 hours earlier and at 01.57 hours made a first attack that became a complete failure because the G7a torpedo fired became a tube runner and due to a misunderstanding a stern torpedo was fired without being aimed. After 40 minutes the U-boat fired nine rounds from the deck gun at the burning wreck which later capsized port and sank northeast of Bermuda. 35 crew members and four gunners were lost. The master, six crew members and one gunner were picked up by the American tug Edmund J. Moran (towing the Robert E. Lee) and landed at Norfolk, Virginia.

On boardWe have details of 47 people who were on board

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