On This Day (26th April) – WW2 Shipwreckollections
The SS Pan Pennsylvania (1943-1944)
On the 24th April 1944, the American Tanker Pan Pennsylvania had been en route to Britain when it was struck with a missile from U-550.
The ship took two large ruptures to the hull and soon fell to stern. The Master of the ship was unable to reach the engine room to order the ship stopped and in the ensuing panic, a large contingent of the crew raced to the lifeboats, with the ship still moving, and attempted to launch.
The Master reached the first lifeboat and ordered the men to cease the launch, he was however too late to halt the second. This lifeboat, holding around a dozen men, capsized immediately crushing three men and throwing the others to the mercy of the Atlantic.
Shortly after, as the Master arranged for the remaining crew to abandon ship in the remaining lifeboats and rafts. U-550 was given a taste of its own medicine by three destroyers of the US Coast Guard which sunk it, just before picking up the 56 surviving crewmen of the Pennsylvania.
Upon landing in Londonderry the 35 survivors of these men were given £180/4s in financial support by the Shipwrecked mariners Society, the equivalent of £7,129 in today’s money, in order to get them back to the USA.
Picture caption: U-550 surfaced while Pan Pennsylvania burned – courtesy of wreckhunter.net