The Sinking of  Otho:

In investigating the sinking of Otho, it was difficult finding detailed information. Information from uboat.net revealed the following information:

The Otho was departing from Takoradi on the Gold Coast heading to Philadelphia. Onboard was 4400 tons of manganese ore, 1300 tons of palm oil, and 750 tons of tin. At 1149 AM on April 3, 1942, the unescorted ship captained by John Makkinje was hit by one torpedo from German U-boat, U-754. At the time their location was approximately 200 miles east of Cape Henry, Virginia. The torpedo hit the starboard side amidships just below the stack at the bulkhead. The hit was between the #3 tank and the engine room.

The explosion was so damaging that it only took 12 minutes for the boat to sink. Most of the ten officers, twenty-six crewmen, ten armed guards, and seven passengers abandoned the ship within five minutes in three boats and a raft. Three officers, nine crewmen, one armed guard, three passengers were rescued by the American patrol yacht USS Zircon (PY 16) and taken to Cape May, New Jersey on April 8th.

On April 25th, one crewman and five armed guards were rescued in their raft by the Norwegian motor tanker Gallia about 150 miles west of Bermuda and dropped off in Halifax, Virginia. The survivors were so exhausted that two men from the tanker jumped overboard to help them. One of the guards died an hour after being rescued.

The remaining crew and passengers who escaped the torpedoed vessel were never found. The total lost lives were: the captain, six officers, 16 crewmen, five armed guards, and four passengers.


Built: 1920 Sunk: April 3, 1942
Type of Vessel: Steam Merchan Owner: American-West African Line, Inc., New York
Builder: Todd Drydock & Construction Corp., Tacoma, WA Power: Steam
Port of registry: New York Dimensions: 376' long x 53' wide x 26' deep
Previous Names:   


Here is the location of the sinking: 36° 25'N, 72° 22'W
otho sinking


Total Lost: 32, Survivors: 21

LastFirstDate of DeathPositionHomeAge
Abrung Cenon April 3, 1942 Fireman/Watertender New York, NY 62
Bailey George April 3, 1942  Oiler New York, NY 37
Brennan John Joseph April 3, 1942  Ensign Philadelphia, PA  
Cerabone Otto Charles April 3, 1942 Junior Third Assistant Bridgeport, CT 39
Correa James Eustachio April 3, 1942 Messman Brooklyn, NY 46
DeDominicis Bernard Kenneth April 3, 1942 Radio Operator Newark, NJ 29
Efird Edward Lee April 3, 1942 Seaman Second Class Salisbury, NC 22
Fishburne, Jr.  Clement Daniel April 3, 1942 Able Seaman Charlottesville, VA 41
Lindstrom Axel Harald April 3, 1942 Boatswain Brooklyn, NY 54
Luaces Victor Otero April 3, 1942 Oiler New York, NY 37
Madison Osman George April 3, 1942 Cook New York, NY 46
Makkinje John April 3, 1942 Master/Captain Brooklyn, NY 49
Manns Joseph Augustus April 3, 1942 Messman Brooklyn, NY 50
McFadyen John Donaldson April 3, 1942 Able Seaman Morganton, NC 32
Ortleb Otto Karl April 3, 1942 Fireman/Waterman Tampa, FL 41
Proctor Henry April 3, 1942 Messman New York, NY 40
Richardson William George April 3, 1942 Chief Engineer Woodside, NY 41
Rodriguez Julio April 3, 1942 Fireman/Waterman Brooklyn, NY 57
Rodriguez Manuel April 3, 1942 Oiler Brooklyn, NY 43
Scarborough Hiram Alton April 3, 1942 Seaman Second Class Dublin, GA 23
Schaper Fred Emil April 3, 1942 First Assistant Engineer New York, NY 57
Seymour James Edward April 3, 1942 Able Seaman Brooklyn, NY 53
Shotts S.B. April 3, 1942 Seaman First Class Vina, AL 20
Smith Arthur Covell April 3, 1942 Chief Mate Springfield Garden, NY 38
Webb George Frederick April 3, 1942 Steward Miami, FL 53
*Weiant, Jr. Carl Andrew April 25, 1942 Ensign Newark, OH 26
Williams Fred Busbee April 3, 1942 Junior Third Mate Swansea, SC 45
Winter Albert Stanley April 3, 1942 Second Assistant Engineer Brooklyn, NY 41

 *Survived the sinking but died shortly after being rescued by the Gallia on April 25, 1942


A  listing of the surviving crew: 

Augustine John F. Mess boy 1915   27
Babcock, Jr. Philip Westerly Third Mate Dec. 24, 1915 South Nyack, NY 26
Bohnen Harold Joseph Passenger  Nov. 9, 1896 Winnetka, IL 45
*Carlson Torsten Able Seaman April 18, 1895 Jersey City, NJ 46
Derrickson Malin Ordinary Seaman May 29, 1916 Philadelphia, PA 25
Edwards Alric Jackson Third Assistant Engineer April 11, 1910 Charlotte, NC 31
Farmer Dallas Edward Seaman Second Class Oct. 29, 1917 Stronghope, MS 24
Fisher Paul Rupert Coxswain May 18, 1921 Cross Creek, WV 20
Henson Carl Oscar Carpenter April 9, 1886 New York, NY 55
Hilcken Robert William Seaman Second Class Sept. 14, 1924 Edgewater, NJ 17
L'Hommedieu Robert Vincent Passenger Oct. 12, 1917 Babylon, NY 24
Magruder Edward Thomas Passenger Oct. 12, 1916 Washington, DC 25
Mominee Roland Valmore Ordinary Seaman Nov. 11, 1901 Southbridge, MA 40
Perez Ascielo M. Ordinary Seaman 1907 Puerto Rico 35
Roberts Carl Foch Ordinary Seaman Aug. 22, 1918 Ashland, Ky 23
Roller Rufus Bascom Seaman Second Class Oct. 27, 1916 Hawkins, TN 25
Tigner James Lee Able Seaman Jan. 17, 1912 El Paso, TX 30
Velasquez Cristobal Ordinary Seaman 1918   24
Ward Parke Milburn Second Mate Sept. 16, 1883 Brooklyn, NY 58
Wiley Will B. Seaman Second Class      
Zelinski Stanley Anthony Wiper Sept. 19, 1919 Providence, RI 22

 *Died on the Examelia when it was sunk by German U-boat U-68 on Oct. 9, 1942

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