Ships hit by U-boats

West Notus

American Steam merchant

Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-2844

NameWest Notus
Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,492 tons
Completed1920 - South Western Shipbuilding Co, San Pedro CA 
OwnerMoore-McCormack Lines Inc, New York NY 
HomeportSan Francisco 
Date of attack1 Jun 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-404 (Otto von B├╝low)
Position34° 10'N, 68° 20'W - Grid DC 3212
Complement40 (4 dead and 36 survivors).
RouteBahia Blanca, Argentina - Port of Spain, Trinidad - New York 
Cargo7400 tons of flax seed 
History Completed in July 1920 for US Shipping Board (USSB) 
Notes on event

At 12.22 hours on 1 June 1942 the unescorted West Notus (Master Hans Gerner) was attacked with gunfire by U-404 while steaming on a nonevasive course at 10 knots about 320 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The U-boat followed the ship and fired about 50 high explosive and incendiary shells from a distance of about two miles for 45 minutes, scoring about 20 hits all over the vessel. The radio was destroyed before a distress signal could be sent and when the steering was disabled the ship began to circle, so the crew had to secure the engines. The master, two officers and the radio operator were killed. The armed guards fired the machine guns and seven rounds from the stern gun and slightly damaged the U-boat, forcing the Germans to cease fire for repairs.

About 14.00 hours, the surviving men of the eight officers, 27 crewmen and five armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in and four .30cal guns) aboard abandoned the burning ship in two lifeboats. The Germans questioned the survivors in one of the boats, provided Perrier mineral water bottles and gave the course towards Cape Hatteras. At 22.30 hours, the U-boat fired another six high explosive shells into the ship but she still remained afloat, so a boarding party was sent on board and scuttling charges were placed at 01.30 and 14.00 hours the next day. At 14.07 hours, they exploded but the ship only settled slowly and the U-boat finally left the ship in a sinking condition at 20.00 hours.

18 survivors in one lifeboat were picked up after two days by the Greek steam merchant Constantinos H. and landed at Bermuda on 5 June. The remaining 18 survivors in the other boat were picked up after three days by the Swiss steam merchant Saentis and landed at New York on 5 June.

On boardWe have details of 5 people who were on board

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