Ships hit by U-boats

James B. Stephens

American Steam merchant

James B. Stephens after being torpedoed

NameJames B. Stephens
Type:Steam merchant (Liberty)
Tonnage7,176 tons
Completed1942 - Oregon Shipbuilding Co, Portland OR 
OwnerUS Lines Inc, New York 
Date of attack8 Mar 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-160 (Georg Lassen)
Position28° 53'S, 33° 18'E - Grid KP 9174
Complement63 (1 dead and 62 survivors).
RoutePort Said - Suez (18 Feb) - Durban - USA 
Cargo1086 tons of bottles, medicine, propellers and personal effects 
History Completed October 1942 
Notes on event

At 20.20 hours on 8 March 1943 the unescorted James B. Stephens (Master John Edward Green Jr.) was torpedoed by U-160 about 150 miles northeast of Durban, while steaming a nonevasive course at 11.5 knots. A torpedo struck one the port side between the #2 and #3 hatches. The explosion set the fuel oil in the double bottoms on fire and the ship settled rapidly by the bow. At 20.32 hours, a coup de grĂ¢ce was fired, which struck on the port side at the #4 hatch and broke the ship in two. Both sections remained afloat, but the ship burned until the following morning. An Allied warship sank the stern section by gunfire and a British warship tried to tow the fore section to Durban, but it sank under tow in heavy seas.
The eight officers, 35 crewmen and 20 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and four 20mm guns) began to abandon ship after the first hit in four lifeboats and three rafts. The explosion of the second torpedo overturned the motor lifeboat and also blew three men from another boat into the water. The other lifeboats picked up all men with exception of one armed guard who drowned because he did not have a life jacket and could not swim. On 11 March, an aircraft spotted one of the boats and directed the HMS Norwich City (FY 229) to it. 19 survivors were picked up by the trawler and taken to Durban. 30 survivors were picked up by the HMS Nigella (K 19) on the next day and taken to Durban. Six days after the attack, the remaining 13 survivors were rescued by a SAAF crash boat one mile off Durban, after they were spotted by an aircraft.

On boardWe have details of 8 people who were on board

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