Ships hit by U-boats

Jeremiah Van Rensselaer

American Steam merchant

NameJeremiah Van Rensselaer
Type:Steam merchant (Liberty)
Tonnage7,177 tons
Completed1942 - North Carolina Shipbuilding Co, Wilmington NC 
OwnerAgwilines Inc, New York 
Date of attack2 Feb 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-456 (Max-Martin Teichert)
Position55° 13'N, 28° 53'W - Grid AK 6461
Complement71 (47 dead and 24 survivors).
RouteNew York - UK 
Cargo9000 tons of Army cargo 
History Completed June 1942  
Notes on event

At 03.04 hours on 2 Feb 1943 the Jeremiah Van Rensselaer (Master Lucius Whitfield Webb, lost) in station #45 (last ship in the extreme port column) of convoy HX-224 was torpedoed by U-456. The ship had been in station #11, but had performed poorly keeping station and kept her station about once in seven nights, she managed to catch up in the daytime and consequently her position was changed.
Two torpedoes struck on the port side in the #1 hold. The explosion created a hole 8 feet by 30 feet, blew the hatch cover off, strewed cargo overboard and started a fire. A short time later, a third torpedo struck on the port side at #4 hatch and blew a truck standing on deck into the water and also started a small fire. The engines were secured and some of the eight officers, 34 crewmen, 28 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and one passenger abandoned ship panicked, they tried to launch three lifeboats, but two capsized in the rough seas. Eight men got away in a boat and others jumped overboard and swam to three rafts, but the harsh weather and cold water caused the most men to die from exposure.

Only one officer, six crewmen and 17 armed guards survived. 23 survivors and three bodies were picked up after five hours by the British rescue ship Accrington and landed at Gourock. A boarding party from the US Coast Guard cutter USS Ingham (WPG 35) later boarded the ship and noted that she could have been saved, but the watch below left the boilers fire lit, which burned the boilers out. The vessel was scuttled by gunfire at 13.00 hours. The boarding party also found one man, who never left the ship and took him to the escort vessel. One week later two bodies were recovered from a raft by FFL Lobelia (K 05).

On boardWe have details of 46 people who were on board

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