Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of John H. Melville

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage1,445 tons
Completed1920 - Standard Shipbuilding Corp, Shooter´s Island NY 
OwnerUnited Fruit SS Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack16 May 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-751 (Gerhard Bigalk)
Position25° 20'N, 74° 19'W - Grid DN 1656
Complement39 (8 dead and 31 survivors).
RouteKingston, Jamaica - Jacksonville, Florida 
Cargo500 tons of fruit, bananas, coconuts and charcoal 
History Completed in September 1920 
Notes on event

At 04.15 hours on 16 May 1942 the unescorted Nicarao (Master Cecil Desmond) was hit by one torpedo from U-751 north of San Salvador, Bahamas. The torpedo was spotted by the master about 20 feet from the ship and struck on the starboard side just forward of the #2 hold. The explosion ruptured the deck plates, tore a hole into the side and broke the back, causing her to sink by the bow within three minutes. The eight officers, 27 crewmen and four armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in and two .30cal guns) tried to abandon ship in the two lifeboats, but both swamped and the survivors had to jump overboard and swim to three rafts, one officer and seven crewmen drowned. One of the boats was later righted and bailed out until the next morning. 31 survivors were picked up 21 hours later by the Esso Augusta and landed at Norfolk on 20 May.

The master, Cecil Desmond, lost another ship to a U-boat when the William Eustis was torpedoed and sunk by U-435 (Strelow) in convoy HX-229 on 17 March 1943.

On boardWe have details of 39 people who were on board

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