May 30, 1942 – This Day During World War ll – U.S. freighter Alcoa Shipper is sunk by German submarine U-404

May 30, 1942 – Unarmed U.S. freighter Alcoa Shipper, en route to New York from Trinidad, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-404 at 37°49’N, 65°15’W; three men die in the initial explosion. The rapidity with which the ship sinks prevents the crew from launching boats, and four men are lost with the ship. U-404 provides the 25 survivors with rum, cigarettes and (for one ill-clad sailor) a pair of dungarees
At 10.24 hours on 30 May 1942, lookouts on the unarmed and unescorted Alcoa Shipper (Master Alderman Logan Scott) spotted the U-404 surfacing about 500 miles east of Cape Charles, Virginia. Despite using two different zigzag patterns, just then one torpedo struck the starboard side at

the fireroom and caused the boiler to explode. The vessel immediately stopped and settled within five minutes, so fast that the two lifeboats being launched became fouled and went down with the ship. Three men were killed on the watch below and four others drowned. 25 out of a total crew of eight officers and 24 crewmen abandoned ship on three rafts that released themselves. The U-boat approached the survivors, the Germans questioned them and then gave several bottles of rum, cigarettes and a pair of dungarees for a man who had escaped with little clothing. 56 hours later five officers and 20 men were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchant Margrethe Bakke and landed in New York on 3 June.

U.S. freighter Alcoa Shipper

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