story is a real odyssey of twists and turns but as you read,
will begin to wonder what happened and how can this be
The facts are basic and inclusive which gives the reader
chance to decide for themselves. Don't read it alone, on a
and stormy night....
The S.S. Papoose
Official numbers- 226583
Official letters- WNBS 2 decks.
Machinery aft, longitudinal framing, steel and web frames.
Built in 1921 by S. Western Shipbuilding Company- San Pedro, CA
Original name- Silvanus
Owner at time of loss- American Republics Corp.
Homeport at time of loss- Wilmington, Delaware.
Engine- Triple expansion- 27 3/16 " x 45 " x 74 ", stroke- 48 "
Engine builder- Hooven, Ownes, Retschler Co., Hamilton, Ohio.
Sunk- 03/ 20/ 1942, unknown. Torpedoed at 2231, 2nd torpedo at 2244.
Torpedoed- 15 miles SW of Cape Lookout
Theoretical position- 27074.0 39431.1 (loran)
Course and speed at time of first torpedo- 236 degrees true, 11.4 knots
Account of the attack on the Papoose, taken from U.S. Navy memorandum:
"The Papoose was torpedoed without warning at approximately 2230 EWT on
March 18, 1942 about 15 miles southwest of Cape Lookout while en route
from Providence RI via New York for Corpus Christi, Texas.
The ship in ballast was sailing a course 236 true, speed 11.4 knots, not
zigzagging, completely blacked out. Radio had not been used since sailing
from New York. The weather was clear, sea moderately rough, a fresh
northwest breeze, and visibility good.
The third mate and a quartermaster were on the bridge, one lookout on the
forecastle head and another on the bridge.
The first torpedo struck the port side at break of poop and entered the
fuel compartment. The engine room and fire room were flooded with oil and
water to height of top of cylinder heads stopping the engines immediately.
The wheel was put hard to right following the first hit but headway was
lost after the ship headed two points to starboard.
An SOS was repeated three times and acknowledged by WSC. The first
lifeboat got away five minutes after the first hit.
A second torpedo fifteen minutes after the first barely missed the
lifeboat and struck the Papoose on the starboard side stated by some to be
directly opposite the first hit and by some slightly aft of amidships.
This hit tore a hole near the waterline which showed eight feet above the
waterline. Wooden awnings over the midship's deckhouse and the radio shack
were demolished causing some to believe a shell had struck simultaneously.
A second lifeboat got away five minutes after the second hit. A weak
yellow or amber light was seen some distance astern of the ship and was
believed to be the submarine.
Survivors were picked up at 0730 EMT on March 19, 1942 by the USS "Stringham"
and taken to Norfolk.
The Papoose was still afloat at the time of rescue. All codes were turned
over to the C.O. of the USS "Stringham". Thirty-two of the crew of 34 were
The comment has been made that an alert watch from the stern, now seldom
in effect, might reveal the presence of the submarine since many of the
attacks have occurred from astern."
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