alcoa guide 
Photo courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News VA

The Sinking of the Alcoa Guide:

The ship left Weehawken, NJ on April 9th heading for Pointe-á-Pitre, Guadeloupe. Onboard it had 5890 tons of general Army supplies, including 8 gas storage tanks, metal piping, flour, cement, lumber, beer, trucks, and automobiles. The captain of the ship was Samuel Leroy Cobb. At 3:55 A.M. the German U-boat, U-123 began its attack on the unarmed and unescorted Alcoa Guide. The u-boat was under the command of Reinhard Hardegen at the time of the attack. U-123 pursued the ship for six hours about 300 miles east of Cape Hatteras. At this point, the u-boat ran out of torpedoes and had only 29 rounds for the deck guns left. Due to this shortage, they moved closer to the Alcoa Guide and opened fire with the deck gun and the 37mm and 20mm AA guns while running a parallel course approximately 400 meters away. The first shell struck the starboard side on the salon deck. Captain Cobb ordered his helmsman to turn the wheel hard to starboard and try and ram the u-boat. Shortly thereafter, a shell struck the bridge, fatally injuring Cobb and jamming the rudder. With the rudder damaged, the ship began circling out of control with the engines still running. Because of a damaged ammonia condenser, the men couldn't reach the engine room to stop the ship. The u-boat fired its last shells into the waterline and then ceased fire. This allowed the eight officers and 26 men a chance to abandon the ship in two lifeboats. The u-boat had fired 27 rounds of 10.5cm, 86 rounds of 3.7cm, and 120 rounds of 2cm ammunition. After all of this bombardment, the Alcoa Guide finally capsized to the starboard and sank at 5:23 A.M.

The 27 survivors in the lifeboats were rescued on April 19th by the USS Broome (DD 210) and landed at Morehead City, NC. Four other survivors got away on a raft and became separated from the boats. At 4 P.M. on May 16th, the Hororata located the raft at 34°35N/71°08W. Unfortunately, only one man (Jules Souza) was still alive.



Built: May 1919 Sunk: April 17, 1942
Type of Vessel: Steam Merchant Owner: Alcoa SS Co. Inc., New York
Builder: Downey Shipbuilding Company, Arlington, NY Power: Steam Engine
Port of registry: New York Dimensions:531.6' long x 52.5' wide x 27.5 deep
Previously Known As: Osakis, Manhattan Island, Point Brava  


Here is the location of the sinking: 35° 34'N, 70° 08'W

 alcoa sinking


Total Lost: 6, Survivors: 28

LastFirstDate of DeathPositionHomeAge
 Cobb Samuel Leroy Apr. 17, 1942 Master West New York, NJ 43
Fisher Benjamin A. Apr. 17, 1942 Chief Engineer Tampa, FL 42
Gollwutzer Kasper Apr. 17, 1942 Fireman/Wiper New York, NY  
Helera Dalmacio Apr. 17, 1942 Able Seaman Baltimore, MD  
Laureano Pedro Apr. 17, 1942 Ordinary Seaman St. Croix, VI  
Patrolla Victor J. Apr. 17, 1942 Ordinary Seaman Wakefield, MA  


A partial listing of the surviving crew:

Beaton Alex Able Seaman      
Biondic Mike Third Mate      
Bonnell Floyd Oiler      
Brazil George Boatswain      
Brown Charles B. Mess Boy      
Chandler Myron Radio Operator      
Costello Gerald Second Mate      
Davis William Chief Steward      
Deibel George Ordinary Seaman      
Echouri Vincent First Assistant Engineer      
Ghale S.W. Chief Cook      
Hayes James Bob Wiper      
Heil Oscar Ordinary Seaman      
Kelly Patrick H. Deck Engineer      
 Kessler Regis S. Wiper      
Koulalis Joseph Mess Boy      
Kramer John First Mate      
Martens Frank Ordinary Seaman      
Mass Frank Third Assistant Engineer      
McIver Charles A. Second Assistant Engineer      
Michaelis John R. Fireman      
Parson Clarence O. Utility Man      
Roland Racine Fireman      
Semenov Waldemar Oiler      
Shimsky J.S. Second Cook      
Sliney Benedict Oiler      
*Souza Jules Able Seaman      
Ulas John Able Seaman      
*He survived almost a month on a raft after the sinking.

alcoa rescue
Location of Jules Souza's raft when he was rescued.

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