SS Oliver Ellsworth

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Name: SS Oliver Ellsworth
Operator: Agwilines Inc, New York
Builder: Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc, Baltimore, Maryland
Completed: June 1942
Fate: sunk on 13 September 1942
General characteristics
Tonnage: 7,191 tons
Length: 422.8 ft
Beam: 57 ft
Draught: 27 ft 9.25 in
Propulsion: Two oil fired boilers,
triple expansion steam engine,
single screw, 2500 horsepower (1.9 MW)
Speed: 11 to 11.5 knots (20 to 21 km/h)
Capacity: 7,200 tons of ammunition and aircraft as deck cargo
Crew: 70

The SS Oliver Ellsworth was a 7,191 ton American liberty ship in World War II. She was built by Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc, of Baltimore, Maryland in 1942 and operated by Agwilines Inc, New York. She was named for Oliver Ellsworth, and was armed with one 4in, one 3in, eight 20mm and two .30cal guns.

Career and sinking

Completed in June 1942, the Oliver Ellsworth was just three months old when she was assigned to Convoy PQ-18, one of the Arctic convoys delivering supplies to the Soviet Union. She carried 7,200 tons of ammunition and aircraft as deck cargo. She was commanded by her Master, Otto Ernest Buford.

The convoy was shadowed by German forces and soon came under attack by the Luftwaffe and U-boats. At 09.52 hours on 13 September, U-408 sighted the convoy about 100 miles southwest of Spitsbergen and fired a spread of three torpedoes. One hit the Soviet SS Stalingrad. The other two torpedoes missed the stricken Soviet merchant, but one of them hit the Oliver Ellsworth which had had to steer hard left to avoid the torpedoed ship.

The Oliver Ellsworth was hit on her starboard side between the #4 and #5 holds. The engines were stopped and the crew of eight officers, 34 crewmen and 28 armed guards abandoned ship in four lifeboats within 15 minutes after the hit, because they feared an explosion of their cargo. But the Oliver Ellsworth continued moving, causing both starboard boats to swamp and one of the port boats struck a raft and sank. All of the survivors were picked up within an hour by the British rescue ship Copeland and the A/S trawler HMS St. Kenan, and were later landed at Archangel. After the rescue action, St. Kenan fired upon the still floating wreck of the Oliver Ellsworth, which sank stern first at 10.30 hours. Out of a complement of 70, all had been rescued except for one armed guard who drowned.


Coordinates: 75°52′N 7°55′E / 75.867°N 7.917°E / 75.867; 7.917