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U.S. MERCHANT VESSELAuthor: . 11510 Reads
U.S. MERCHANT VESSEL
Builder: Unknown - Launched in 1921 as Victolite renamed E. M. Clark in 1926
Port of Origin: New England, U.S.
Propulsion: Steam turbine driven
Type: Steam Tanker
Tonnage: 9647 tons
Length: 449 feet
Beam: 61 feet approx.
Armament: Unarmed fuel transport
Owner History: Standard Oil Company of New Jersey
On March 18, 1942 during an early spring thunderstorm the E.M. Clark was struck by two torpedoes at approximately 8:30 pm by the German U-boat, U-124. The Clark was attacked 20 miles southwest of Diamond Shoals while transporting 118 barrels of heating oil to New York. Both torpedoes struck her port side, one fore and one amidship she quickly sank. Within 10 minutes of the first torpedo striking, her antenna masts disappeared under the surface taking only one life. The rest of the crew including Captain Hubert Hassell along with seven officers and 32 crewmen had escaped into the lifeboats. Venezuelan tanker Catatumbo rescued 23 crew members that same day, the remaining crew were located and picked up by the Navy Destroyer Dickerson (DD-157) the following day.
In a strange twist of fate the U.S.S. Dickerson (DD-157) while en-route to Norfolk, was inadvertently attacked by friendly fire from the U.S. Freighter Liberator, killing the commanding officer and 3 crew members. The S.S. Liberator had mistaken the Dickerson for a German destroyer and fired its single 4" gun in anticipation of an attack, this would be the last attack on a vessel by the Liberator. Only hours later she was hit and sunk with a single torpedo from the U-332, killing 5 sailors.
Data compiled by BluewaterBandit
On March 18, 1942, the crew of U-124 spotted a tanker 22 miles southwest of the Diamond Shoals Light Buoy. This vessel was the 9,647 gross ton E.M. Clark carrying 118,000 barrels of heating oil destined for New York. Utilizing squally conditions, Kapitänleutnant Johann Mohr brought U-124 close to E.M. Clark and fired one torpedo into the tanker''s port side. The exploding torpedo buckled the deck of the tanker and brought down its foremast and radio equipment. While the crew of E.M. Clark attempted to rig an emergency radio, another of Mohr''s torpedoes ripped through the stricken vessel sinking it in ten minutes and ensuring its cargo would never reach New York. Although the ship sank quickly, 40 of the 41 members of the crew managed to escape in two lifeboats. The unfortunate crew member who lost his life was asleep in the ship''s hospital at the time of the attack and is believed to have been killed by the torpedo blast.
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