About the Wrecks
December 15, 2005 06:43 PM EST



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Builder: Merrill-Stevens Shipbuilding - Launched in 1920 as Chickamauga renamed Malchace

Port of Origin: Jacksonville, Fla.

Propulsion: Single screw - Oil fired steam turbine - 11 kts. cruising

Type: Steam Freighter

Tonnage: 3516 tons

Length: 333 feet

Width: 48 feet

Armament: Unarmed merchant freighter

Owner History:  Marine Transport Lines Incorporated, New York


Dawn came on Thursday, April 9, 1942 just like any other day, but for the unescorted Malchace it would be her last, she would sink within a matter of hours. At 0800 hours the Malchace was positioned 45 miles NE of Cape Lookout, traveling north at roughly 11 kts. Her cargo, 3600 tons of soda ash was bound for delivery in New Jersey later that week. Unbeknownst to Captain Arnt Magnusdale of the Malchace ,the U-boat, U-160 had been tracking her and was maneuvering into position for the attack. The first torpedo struck the port side below her waterline, but the impact of the blast was absorbed by the tons of soda ash in the hold. This allowed the Captain and 28 crew members time to radio a distress call and prepare for abandoning the ship. The U-160 waited fifteen minutes after the first blast, to allow the crew time to escape in the lifeboats, then she fired a second torpedo hitting the Malchace port side aft. This blast knocked four men off the deck and one drowned while trying to abandon ship, at the same time it also punctured a hole in the bulkhead causing the engine room to flood, the Malchace sunk two hours later. The survivors were rescued only hours later by the Mexican freighter Faja de Oro, and ultimately boarded a U.S. Coast Guard vessel.


Captain Arnt Magnusdale would experience another sinking, just 7 monthes later his Liberty ship the Jeremiah Wadsworth was struck by 3 torpedoes from the U-boat, U-178. The Wadsworth sank off the the coast of South Africa on November 27, 1942, all 57 crew members were rescued by allied vessels over the course of the following week and returned safely to shore.



Data complied by BluewaterBandit

On the morning of April 9, 1942, the 3,515 gross ton freighter Malchace was sunk while carrying a cargo of soda ash from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Hopewell, Virginia. The vessel was struck by two torpedoes, which caused it to sink in under an hour. The 28 survivors of the original crew of 29 were landed at Norfolk by the Mexican steamer, Faja de Oro, several hours after the attack.

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Adam B. Meyer, Esq. Maritime Insurance International 843.606.5270 Office 910.202.4308