Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam passenger ship

Photo courtesy of John H. Melville

Type:Steam passenger ship
Tonnage4,693 tons
Completed1911 - Workman, Clark & Co Ltd, Belfast 
OwnerUnited Fruit SS Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack13 Jun 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-159 (Helmut Friedrich Witte)
Position9° 41'N, 81° 10'W - Grid EL 2184
Complement201 (29 dead and 172 survivors).
RouteCristobal - Puerto Barrios, Guatemala - New Orleans 
Cargo900 tons of US Army supplies, inlcuding trucks, trailers, clothing and foodstuffs 
History Completed in October 1911 for Tropical Fruit SS Co Ltd (United Fruit SS Co), Glasgow. 1914 transferred to US flag. 
Notes on event

At 04.12 hours on 13 June 1942 the unescorted Sixaola (Master William H. Fagan) was hit on the starboard side by two torpedoes from U-159, while steaming on a righthand zigzag pattern at 12.5 knots about 50 miles off Bocas del Toro, Panama. The first torpedo struck in the bow and the second in the center of #2 hold. The most of the eight officers, 79 crewmen, six armed guards (the ship was armed with one 3in and two .50cal guns) and 108 passengers on board abandoned ship in five lifeboats and six rafts two minutes after the hits and stopping the engines. 29 crewmen died in the explosions, most of them lay sleeping in the quarters of the crew in the bow. Just after the master and chief officer left the ship, she was hit on the port side amidships by a coup de grĂ¢ce at 04.31 hours and sank by the stern about 06.15 hours. The Germans questioned the survivors, offered medical aid, gave exact course and distance to the nearest land and two packages of German cigarettes and then left the area.

32 survivors in one boat were picked up by the American steam merchant Carolinian and later transferred to the American gunboat USS Niagara (PG 52), which also picked up 75 survivors in two other boats that had been spotted by aircraft and landed them all in Cristobal. 23 survivors in another boat were rescued by the US Army tug Shasta, after their boat landed on Bocas del Toro on 16 June. The remaining 42 survivors made landfall in their lifeboat in the delta of Coloveboran River after four days and were brought to Cristobal by the American submarine chaser USS PC-460.

On boardWe have details of 30 people who were on board

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