Ships hit by U-boats

Axtell J. Byles

American Steam tanker

Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

NameAxtell J. Byles
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage8,955 tons
Completed1927 - Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, Chester PA 
OwnerTide Water Associated Oil Co, New York 
Date of attack19 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateDamaged by U-136 (Heinrich Zimmermann)
Position35° 32'N, 75° 19'W - Grid CA 7936
Complement40 (0 dead and 40 survivors).
RoutePort Arthur (11 Apr) - New York 
Cargo57.000 barrels of crude oil and 27.000 barrels of fuel oil 
History Completed in September 1927

Broken up at Hikari in August 1955.

Notes on event

The unarmed Axtell J. Byles (Master John D. Baldwin) was the lead ship in the seaward column of a two column convoy (seven tanker and one freighter) formed at the Cape Lookout Light. USCGC Dione (WPC 107), four small US Coast Guard boats and an aircraft escorted convoy. They steamed at 9.5 knots but did not zigzag.

At 00.34 hours on 19 April 1942, U-136 fired a spread of four torpedoes at convoy about four miles off Wimble Shoals, North Carolina. The aircraft spotted the track of a torpedo and warned the ships. The Axtell J. Byles turned the wheel hard left and increased speed, but she was too slow. One torpedo struck just forward of the bridge at the #2 tank on starboard. The explosion blew a large hole in the side, both above and below the waterline and severely damaged the bridge and the midships house. The tanker settled by the bow and all tanks forward of the #6 tank flooded, but she did not sink. The Axtell J. Byles arrived to Hampton Roads under her own power in the evening and was repaired. The crew of eight officers and 32 men reported no injuries.

On boardWe have details of 1 people who were on board

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