Naeco, location unknown. Photo courtesy of the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia.

The Sinking of the Naeco:

The Naeco was built in 1918 during World War I. It was originally named Charle M. Everest and was under the control of the U.S. Shipping Board. In 1919, it was purchased by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Finally, in 1933, the ship was sold and renamed the Naeco by Charles Kutz & Company. The tanker transported fuel oil, kerosene, and gasoline from Texas to the East Coast.

In late March 1942, the Naeco left Houston, Texas with a load of kerosene and #2 fuel oil headed to Seawarren, New Jersey. Captain Emil H. Engelbrecht wanted to make sure the ship arrived off the coast of North Carolina, particularly off Cape Hatteras, during the early morning hours. On March 23, 1942, thinking traveling at that time would be best, little did the captain know was they were already being tracked by German U-boat U-124 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Erich Mohr. From the time the Naeco passed 65 miles southeast of Cape Lookout, U-124 had the Naeco as a target. The U-124 had already sunk the Papoose, the W.E. Hutton, and the E.M. Clark just five days earlier and damaged the Esso Nashville two days later.

That morning of March 23, 1942,

Apparently, the first torpedo the U-124 launched either missed its target or was a dud. The U-124 fired a second torpedo into the starboard side of the Naeco just forward the amidships. The hit set off an explosion that set the fuel oil on fire and shortly thereafter the entire ship forward of amidships was burning. All crew members, who were forward when the torpedo hit, were killed. The captain died in the burning inferno in the midship house. All of the lifeboats forward were destroyed in the blast. One of the lifeboats with two members was swept into flames by the winds and they were found burned to death. Fortunately, lifeboat #3 on the port side and lifeboat #4 on the starboard side were not damaged. They were able to be lowered after the torpedo hit the ship. Lifeboat #4 was in trouble right away. Because the ship was still moving, the four crewmen were in the water swimming for their lives. One man was able to swim back and climb back aboard the Naeco. One crewman found a small raft nearby and was able to climb aboard it. The other two men from Lifeboat #4 continued to swim unaware of the others that had climbed aboard Lifeboat #4. The U.S. Coast Guard ship, Dione, picked up the 10 survivors in Lifeboat #3 four hours after the attack. They were also able to rescue the two men swimming away from Lifeboat #4. The USS Umpqua picked up the seaman who had returned to the ship. The USS Osprey rescued the fourth survivor from the life raft. All survivors, including three wounded, were landed at Morehead City, North Carolina.

The Naeco remained floating on the surface for about another hour before she broke into two sections and sank. The bow was the first to sink. The stern continued to float and burn but eventually sunk a little while later. The two pieces sank approximately two miles apart from each other.


Built: 1918 Sunk: March 23, 1942
Type of Vessel: Tanker Owner: Charles Kurz & Company (Pennsylvania Shipping Cos, Mgrs.)
Builder: Bethlehem Ship Building Corp., Wilmington, DE Power: Oil-fired steam
Port of registry: Wilmington, DE Dimensions:411' long x 53' wide x 31' deep
Previous Names: Charles M. Everest  


Here is the location of the sinking:
Bow Section: 34°3'27.68"N, 76°34'14.92"W
Stern Section: 34°1'31.22"N, 76°38'53.05"W

 naeco bow sinking

naeco stern sinking




Total Lost: 24, Survivors: 14

LastFirstDate of DeathPositionHomeAge
Baillie James March 23, 1942 Quartermaster Port Hope, Ontario  
Blanco Samuel Anthony March 23, 1942 Messman Houston, TX 45
Brannan  Francis Carroll  March 23, 1942 Third Mate Baltimore, MD 37
Engelbrecht Emil H. March 23, 1942 Master/Captain Williamstown, NJ 45
Ference Joseph March 23, 1942 Ordinary Seaman Houston, TX 27
Huguley David Henry March 23, 1942 Oiler New York, NY 41
Kaiser Adam March 23, 1942 Ordinary Seaman New Orleans, LA 45
Knight Leo Woodrow March 23, 1942 Steward Galveston, TX 28
Lanham Charles Harold March 23, 1942 Able Seaman Houston, TX 41
Mareno Elmer Henry March 23, 1942 Second Mate Houston, TX 46
McQuillan John Edward March 23, 1942 Messman Winthrop, MA 31
Moore Vincent Haynie March 23, 1942 Ordinary Seaman Seatle, WA 18
Pearson James Edwin March 23, 1942 Fireman/Watertender Galveston, TX 21
Pickett Calvin March 23, 1942 Pumpman Port Neches, TX 43
Pickett George R. March 23, 1942 Cook Houston, TX  
Reed Edward March 23, 1942 Chief Mate Staten Island, NY 40
Reed, Jr. George Putnam March 23, 1942 Ordinary Seaman Portland, ME 37
Sisk Ira John March 23, 1942 Oiler Dayton, TX 28
Skelly Clifford Hugh March 23, 1942 Able Seaman Chicago, IL 44
Stelwagon, Jr. Frank Melville March 23, 1942 Radio Operator Houston, TX 42
Tate Andrew Wade March 23, 1942 Third Assistant Engineer Houston, TX 37
Tress Frank Hardman March 23, 1942 Wiper Mount Calm, TX  
Wise John Jay March 23, 1942 Messman Fresno, CA  
Zawerucka Fred March 23, 1942 Wiper Somerset, MA  


A partial listing of the surviving crew:

Henderson Garland Boatswain      
Oberer John Francis Quartermaster 1914 New York, NY  28
Swank Walter Wilson Utilityman Feb. 6, 1994 Marcus Hook, PA 38
Walczak Martin Michael Chief Engineer Oct. 23, 1889 Cleveland, OH 52

Photos of the Naeco:

Steam engine and boiler assembly at Naeco's stem. Photo courtesy of  NOAA
Interior of the intact stem section of Naeco . Photo courtesy of Hoyt, NOAA


Interior hatch on the stern of Naeco. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Naeco location hosts a subtropical ecosystem. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

The forward end of the engine. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy.
A diver swims near the steering quadrant at the remains of the stern fantail. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy.
Steering quadrant on stern Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
Diver at the stern break. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
Bow port anchor in the hawse pipe. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
Bow anchor windlass. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
Boilers. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
Divers swim the stern wreckage. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy


Typical wreck vista forward of the stern break. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
A spare anchor sits in the wreckage at the stern. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy
A diver swims along the port edge of the wreck beside the engine towards the stern. Photo courtesy of Paul M. Hudy

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