Ships hit by U-boats


American Steam tanker

Photo courtesy of Mobil Oil Corp

Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage9,925 tons
Completed1937 - Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, Chester PA 
OwnerSocony-Vacuum Oil Co Inc, New York 
HomeportNew York 
Date of attack29 Apr 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-108 (Klaus Scholtz)
Position25° 35'N, 66° 18'W - Grid DO 1389
Complement52 (0 dead and 52 survivors).
RouteNew York (16 Apr) - Norfolk - Caripito, Venezuela 
CargoWater ballast 
History Completed in January 1937 
Notes on event

At 08.57 hours on 29 April 1942 the unescorted Mobiloil (Master Ernest V. Farrow) was torpedoed by U-108 about 350 miles northeast of Turks Island. The U-boat had spotted the tanker at 19.50 hours the day before, but she was steaming at 14 knots and it took about 13 hours to get into a favourable attack position. At 04.12 hours, a first torpedo already missed, before the U-boat fired a spread of two torpedoes at 08.57 hours and hit the tanker with one between the #1 and #2 tanks on the starboard side and blew a large hole in the bow. Then U-108 surfaced and began shelling the tanker from a distance of 2000 metres with all weapons, while Mobiloil was firing 12 rounds from the 4in stern gun (the ship was also armed with two .50cal and two .30cal guns). After three hits on the tanker, Scholtz had to cease fire after 50 minutes because the target could not be seen properly, the 20mm AA gun jammed and the gun sight of the 37mm AA gun was defect. In the meantime the tanker swung around to show the stern towards the U-boat, shifted some ballast and set course toward Bermuda.

At 11.12 and 11.13 hours, U-108 fired two torpedoes, the first missed and the second struck on the starboard side of the #4 tank, destroying a lifeboat, opening the pumproom, wrecking the living quarters and the gyro compass, but the tanker was able to continue. The sixth torpedo fired at 16.45 hours hit between #7 and #8 tanks on the port side, stopping the engines and caused flooding, this caused the ship to break in two in the middle. The eight officers, 33 crewmen, two workaways and nine armed guards abandoned ship in three lifeboats just before the ship sank at 17.12 hours in 26°10N/66°15W with bow and stern pointing skyward. All survivors were picked up about 86 hours after the attack by USS PC-490 after being spotted and circled twice by aircraft and landed on 4 May at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The master was later convicted of violating convoy routing orders, because he had been ordered to await a convoy off Norfolk, but the vessels did not arrive at the appointed hour, so he proceeded alone.

On boardWe have details of 3 people who were on board

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