Ships hit by U-boats

Alcoa Guide

American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

NameAlcoa Guide
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage4,834 tons
Completed1919 - Downey Shipbuilding Corp, Arlington NY 
OwnerAlcoa SS Co Inc, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack17 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-123 (Reinhard Hardegen)
Position35° 34'N, 70° 08'W - Grid DC 3179
Complement34 (6 dead and 28 survivors).
RouteWeehawken, New Jersey (9 Apr) - Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe 
Cargo5890 tons of general Army supplies, including 8 gas storage tanks, metal piping, flour, cement, lumber, beer, trucks and automobiles 

Completed in May 1919 as Osakis for US Shipping Board (USSB) and 1923 renamed Manhattan Island for the same owner. 1931 renamed Point Brava for Swayne & Hoyt Ltd Inc, San Francisco CA. 1940 renamed Alcoa Guide for Alcoa SS Co Inc, New York.

Notes on event

At 03.55 hours on 17 April 1942, U-123 began shelling the unarmed and unescorted Alcoa Guide (Master Samuel Leroy Cobb), after pursuing her for six hours about 300 miles east of Cape Hatteras. Hardegen was out of torpedoes and had only 29 rounds for the deck gun left, so he went close and opened fire with the deck gun and the 37mm and 20mm AA guns on parallel course from a distance of only 400 meters. The first shell struck the starboard side on the saloon deck. The master then ordered the helmsman to throw the wheel hard to starboard to try and ram the U-boat. Moments later a shell hit the bridge, fatally injuring the master and jamming the rudder. The vessel began circling out of control with the engines still running, while the U-boat fired its last shells into the waterline and then ceased fire to allow the crew of eight officers and 26 men to leave the ship. A damaged ammonia condenser kept men from reaching the engine room to stop the engines, so six officers (including the master, which died in the lifeboat) and 22 men had to abandon a still moving ship in two lifeboats. The U-boat had fired 27 rounds of 10.5cm, 86 rounds of 3.7cm and 120 rounds of 2cm ammunition. The Alcoa Guide finally capsized to starboard and sank at 05.23 hours.

The 27 survivors in the lifeboats were picked up on 19 April by USS Broome (DD 210) and landed at Morehead City, North Carolina. Four other survivors got away on a raft and became separated from the boats. At 16.00 hours on 16 May, the Hororata located the raft in 34°35N/71°08W, but only one man was still alive.

On boardWe have details of 34 people who were on board

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