Ships hit by U-boats

West Portal

American Steam merchant

West Portal under her former name Emergency Aid. Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-2185

NameWest Portal
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,376 tons
Completed1920 - Merchant Shipbuilding Corp, Harriman PA 
OwnerPope & Talbot Inc, San Francisco CA 
HomeportSan Francisco 
Date of attack5 Feb 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-413 (Gustav Poel)
Position53° 00'N, 33° 00'W - Grid AK 8134
Complement77 (77 dead - no survivors)
ConvoySC-118 (straggler)
RouteNew York - Halifax - Liverpool 
Cargo6000 tons of general cargo, army stores and mail 
History Completed in November 1920 as Emergency Aid for US Shipping Board (USSB), later laid up as part of the reserve fleet. 1939 renamed West Portal for Pope & Talbot Inc, San Francisco CA. 
Notes on event

At 14.05 hours on 5 Feb 1943 the West Portal (Master Oswald Joseph Griffin), a straggler from convoy SC-118, was hit forward of the bridge by one torpedo from U-413 and immediately took a list. The U-boat had fired a spread of four torpedoes from a distance of over 3500 yards at the zigzagging ship and hit her with the third torpedo. She was missed by a first coup de grĂ¢ce, but sank after a second hit in the stern at 15.21 hours. The Germans observed how some of the eight officers, 32 crewmen, 25 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and twelve passengers abandoned ship in lifeboats, but they were never seen again. HMS Vanessa (D 29) (Lt C.E. Sheen, RN) received a distress signal from the ship and left convoy to search for survivors, but no position had been reported so search proved to be fruitless.

On boardWe have details of 65 people who were on board

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