Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of SSHSA Collection, University of Baltimore Library

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,565 tons
Completed1919 - Northwest Steel Co, Portland OR 
OwnerStates Marine Corp, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack13 Mar 1943Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-172 (Carl Emmermann)
Position37° 59'N, 37° 40'W - Grid CD 6823
Complement72 (2 dead and 70 survivors).
ConvoyUGS-6 (straggler)
RouteNew York (4 Mar) - Algiers 
Cargo6000 tons of war material, including gasoline, aircraft, tanks and trucks 
History Completed in May 1919 as West Cherow for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1929 renamed Sage Brush for Shepard Steamship Co, Boston MA. 1941 renamed Keystone for States Marine Corp, New York. 
Notes on event

At 23.22 hours on 13 March 1943 the Keystone (Master John Henry Darby) was torpedoed by U-172 about 450 miles west of the Azores. The ship had been in convoy UGS-6, but straggled on 12 March about 15 miles behind convoy due to engine problems and a destroyer remained with the freighter all night, but left the next morning to rejoin convoy. The U-boat reported the vessel under her former name Sage Brush. One torpedo struck on the port side aft of the #5 hatch. The explosion blew a hole in the hull between #5 hold and the poop deck, destroyed the steering engine and steering gear, buckled the deck, disabled the 4in stern gun, flooded the shaft alley and killed one armed guard and a fireman on watch below. Five minutes after the hit a fire started and one of the aircraft carried on deck caught fire. The engines were secured and most of the eight officers, 35 crewmen, 27 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in and nine 20mm guns) and two passengers (US Army) abandoned ship in good order in four lifeboats. After the crew cleared the vessel, a coup de grĂ¢ce was fired at 23.55 hours, which struck at the #3 hold and broke the ship in two. Both parts sank until 00.27 hours on 14 March. The survivors were picked up after seven hours by the Portuguese steam merchant Sines and landed at Horta in the Azores on 16 March.

On boardWe have details of 5 people who were on board

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