SS Manistee

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Name: SS Manistee
Operator: Elders & Fyffes Line
Admiralty from December 1940
Builder: Cammell Laird
Launched: 1920
Completed: January 1921
Fate: Sunk on 24 February 1941, part of Convoy OB 288
General characteristics
Class & type: Steam merchant ship
Tonnage: 5,360 tons
Crew: 141
Armament:
  • 2 x six inch guns
  • 1 x twelve pound gun
  • 1 x anti-aircraft gun

SS Manistee was a merchant ship of the Elders & Fyffes Line. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War to serve as an Ocean Boarding Vessel.

Pre-war service[edit]

Built in 1920 for the Elders & Fyffes company[1] for its passenger and banana route from the Caribbean to the United Kingdom, she was requisitioned by the Navy in 1940. She had a Gross Register Tonnage of 5,360 tons and, after requisition, was armed with two six inch guns, one twelve pound gun and an anti-aircraft gun.[2]

Wartime career[edit]

Manistee’s first encounter with a U-boat was on 7 July 1940 when travelling unescorted southwest of Ireland. She was sighted by U-99, under the command of Otto Kretschmer, who fired a G7e torpedo at her at 14.01 hours. Kretschmer then surfaced and began shelling the Manistee at 14.14 hours. The ship returned fire, forcing U-99 to break off, with neither side having scored any hits.

Manistee formed part of convoy OB 288 sailing from Liverpool on 19 February 1941. The convoy was dispersed at 2100 hours on 23 February 1941 in the North Atlantic at a point North – West of Ireland and South of Iceland due to U-boat activity in the area.[3] At 2242 (Berlin Time) on the same day, the German submarine U-107, under the command of Günther Hessler, and the Italian submarine Michele Bianchi fired torpedoes upon the Manistee. Between 0600 and 0800 on 24 February 1941 U-107 fired upon the Manistee again, sinking her at point 58 55N 20 50W, south of Iceland. USS Herndon, HMS Heather and Free French destroyer Leopard were dispatched to search for survivors but none of the 141 hands on board were found.

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