Ships hit by U-boats

David H. Atwater

American Steam merchant

NameDavid H. Atwater
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage2,438 tons
Completed1919 - Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ashtabula OH 
OwnerAtwacoal Transportation Co, Fall River MA 
HomeportFall River 
Date of attack3 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-552 (Erich Topp)
Position37° 57'N, 75° 10'W - Grid CA 5714
Complement27 (24 dead and 3 survivors).
RouteLambertĀ“s Point, Virginia - Norfolk - Fall River, Massachusetts 
Cargo3911 tons of coal 
History Completed in June 1919 as Crabtree for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1922 renamed W.J. Crosby for North Shore Transit Co, Port Huron MI. 1929 sold to Canada Forwarding Co Ltd, Port Arthur, Canada. 1935 renamed David H. Atwater for Atwacoal Transportation Co, Fall River MA. 
Notes on event

At 03.40 hours on 3 April 1942 the unescorted and unarmed David H. Atwater (Master William Keith Webster) was attacked by U-552 about ten miles east of Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia. Topp had followed her underwater, surfaced and began to shell the vessel without warning. 93 shots were fired from 600 yards distance, hitting her with about 50 shots and set her on fire. USCGC Legare (WPC 144) observed the gunfire and headed for the ship, upon arrival at the scene 45 minutes after the attack, they saw the vessel sinking, leaving two feet of mast above water. The crew of eight officers and 19 men had been unable to leave the ship in lifeboats and most jumped overboard and drowned. All officers died and only three men who dove overboard and swam to an empty lifeboat survived the attack. The survivors and three bodies were picked up by the US Coast Guard vessel USCGC CG-218 and taken to Chincoteague Inlet.

On boardWe have details of 25 people who were on board

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats