Ships hit by U-boats

Steel Maker

American Steam merchant

Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-2718.1

NameSteel Maker
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage6,176 tons
Completed1920 - Federal Shipbuilding Co, Kearny NJ 
OwnerIsthmian SS Co, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack20 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-654 (Ludwig Forster)
Position33° 48'N, 70° 36'W - Grid DC 2596
Complement48 (1 dead and 47 survivors).
RouteNew York - Capetown - Abadan, Iran 
Cargo7660 tons of war supplies 
History Completed in January 1920 
Notes on event

At 04.28 hours on 20 April 1942 the unescorted and zigzagging Steel Maker (Master Leonard Dukes) was hit by one of two torpedoes fired by U-654 about 350 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina. The torpedo struck on the port side in the #5 after cargo hold and ripped a large hole into the hull, causing the ship to flood fast and sinking in 15 minutes. The most of the nine officers, 29 crewmen, nine armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) and one passenger abandoned ship in two lifeboats in less than ten minutes. Only the steward died in the attack. The U-boat surfaced and questioned the master, after that the officer stated: I am sorry to have to sink you and do this to you but this is war. You will be rescued, do not worry, I shall send your position out by radio. In the morning, the two boats came together and redistributed their loads before sailing independent towards the nearest coast. On 22 April, the 18 survivors in one of the boats were picked up by USS Rowan (DD 405) (LtCdr B.R. Harrison, Jr., USN) and landed in Norfolk, Virginia. On 29 April, the 27 survivors in the second boat were rescued by the British steam merchant Pacific Exporter off Frying Pan Shoals, transferred to a US Coast Guard boat and landed at Morehead City, North Carolina. The radio operator had managed to climb on a raft and survived by using the emergency supplies of several rafts for 29 days until being rescued.

On boardWe have details of 3 people who were on board

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