Oil Transport Torpedoed by German U-boat, 1942

Image of the Allan Jackson, from the Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart.

Image of the Allan Jackson, from the Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart.

On January 18, 1942, the Standard Oil tanker Allan Jackson was torpedoed by a German submarine 70 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras.

The vessel, transporting oil from Colombia to New York, was struck by two torpedoes. The second blast split the ship in two, spilling 7.5 million gallons of oil. Of the 35 crew members, 22 perished. The survivors told harrowing tales of clinging to scattered pieces of wreckage and trying to avoid the burning oil.

During World War II, German U-boats were a very real threat to vessels along the coast of North America. Survivors from one merchant vessel said that enemy submarines were “almost as thick as catfish” in the waters where they were attacked. In 1941 and 1942 about 100 ships were sunk at Diamond Shoals, off the coast of the Outer Banks, in what became known as the “Battle of Torpedo Junction.”

Coast Guard patrol planes, the Civil Air Patrol, antisubmarine vessels and underwater mine fields eventually brought an end to the menacing U-boat presence in North Carolina’s waters.

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