Ships hit by U-boats

Esso Houston

American Steam tanker

NameEsso Houston
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage7,699 tons
Completed1938 - Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, Kearny NJ 
OwnerStandard Oil Co of New Jersey, New York 
Date of attack13 May 1942Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-162 (J├╝rgen Wattenberg)
Position12° 12'N, 57° 25'W - Grid EE 8465
Complement42 (1 dead and 41 survivors).
RouteAruba (9 May) - Montevideo, Uruguay 
Cargo81.701 barrels of fuel oil 
History Completed in January 1938 
Notes on event

At 02.34 hours on 13 May 1942 the unescorted Esso Houston (Master Trafton Fletcher Wonson) was hit by one torpedo from U-162 about 150 miles east of Barbados, just after lookouts spotted the U-boat crossing the bow of the tanker, which immediately put the wheel hard right. The torpedo struck on the port side instead of the starboard side, about 25 feet aft of the bridge at the #6 hatch and blew oil over the after part of the ship. The engines were stopped and the damage was examined. It was realized that the back was broken and the eight officers, 30 men and four armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in gun) abandoned ship in three lifeboats and one raft. 20 minutes later a second torpedo struck amidships, destroying the ship. U-162 surfaced near the lifeboats, questioned the crew, offered assistance and left. The U-boat returned to let the master know that one of the lifeboats was in sinking condition near the stern of the tanker.

18 survivors in one boat were picked up by the Norwegian motor tanker Havprins 40 hours later, were transferred to the Everagra the next day and landed at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands on 18 May. 23 survivors on another boat made landfall five days after the attack on St. Vincent Island. One armed guard died from injuries.

On boardWe have details of 5 people who were on board

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