SS Empire Barracuda

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  • Sacandaga (1918–32)
  • Black Heron (1932–41)
  • Empire Barracuda (1941–42)
  • United States Shipping Board (1918–19)
  • Carolina Co (1919–25)
  • United States Shipping Board (1925–31)
  • American Diamond Lines Inc (1931–41)
  • Ministry of War Transport (1941–42)
  • American Palmetto Line (1919–25)
  • United States Shipping Board (1925–32)
  • American Diamond Lines Inc (1932–41)
  • Cunard White Star Line Ltd, Liverpool (1941–42)
Port of registry
  • United States USA (1918–41)
  • United Kingdom London (1941–42)
BuilderAmerican International Shipbuilding Co, Hog Island, Philadelphia
Yard number494
Laid down20 March 1918
Launched29 October 1918
Completed12 January 1919
  • US Official Number 217429 (1919–1941)
  • UK Official Number 168073 (1941–42)
  • Code Letters GNPP (1941–42)
  • ICS Golf.svgICS November.svgICS Papa.svgICS Papa.svg
FateSunk 15 December 1942
General characteristics
Class and typedraught
Length391 ft 9 in (119.41 m)
Beam54 ft 2 in (16.51 m)
Depth28 ft (8.53 m)
Propulsion1 x steam turbine (General Electric Corp, Schenectady), double reduction geared. 600 hp (450 kW)
Speed12 knots (22 km/h)
Crew47, plus 5 DEMS gunners (Empire Barracuda)
Armament1 x 4.7" gun, 8 machine guns (Empire Barracuda)
SS Empire Barracuda is located in Morocco
SS Empire Barracuda
Location of the sinking of Empire Barracuda off Morocco.

Empire Barracuda was a 4,972 GRT cargo ship which was built in 1918 for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) as Sacandaga. She was sold to American Diamond Lines Inc in 1932 and renamed Black Heron. In 1941 she passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and was renamed Empire Barracuda. She was torpedoed on 15 December 1942 and sunk by U-77.


Sacandaga was built by American International Shipbuilding Co, Hog Island, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as yard number 494.[1] She was laid down on 20 March 1918, launched on 20 October 1918[2] and completed on 12 January 1919.[3] She was built for the USSB, but was sold in 1919 to the Carolina Co, and placed under the management of American Palmetto Line. In 1925 she was returned to the ownership of the USSB.[1] In 1931, she was sold to American Diamond Lines Inc and in 1932 Sacandaga was renamed Black Heron.[4] In 1939, Black Heron was serving Baltimore, Boston, Newport News, New York, and Norfolk in the United States and Antwerp, in Belgium with Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.[5]

War service[edit]

On 10 January 1941, a fire broke out aboard Black Heron whilst she was moored at Brooklyn Pier, New York. Although some mattresses and medical supplies were destroyed, three bombers being carried were undamaged.[6] In 1941, Black Heron was transferred to the MoWT and renamed Empire Barracuda.[1] Her port of registry was London and she was placed under the management of Cunard White Star Line Ltd.[7] Empire Barracuda was a member of a number of convoys in the Second World War.

OB 297

Convoy OB 297 sailed from Liverpool on 12 March 1941 and dispersed at sea on 17 March. Empire Barracuda was in ballast and bound for Corpus Christi, Texas.[8]

ON 9

Convoy ON 9 which sailed from Liverpool on 20 August 1941 and dispersed at sea on 25 August. Empire Barracuda was bound for New York.[9]

HX 151

Convoy HX 151 sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 22 September 1941 and arrived at Liverpool on 7 October.[10]

OS 11

Convoy OS 11 sailed from Liverpool on 7 November 1941 and arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone on 21 November. Empire Barracuda was carrying a cargo of stores, outbound from the Clyde and her final destination was Gibraltar.[11]


On 15 December 1941, Empire Barracuda was torpedoed by U-77 under the command of Heinrich Schonder and sunk at 35°30′N 06°17′W / 35.500°N 6.283°W / 35.500; -6.283 while on a voyage from Gibraltar to Cape Town and Suez. Nine crew members and four DEMS gunners were killed. Thirty eight crew members and one DEMS gunner were rescued by HMS Coltsfoot and landed at Gibraltar.[4] Those lost on Empire Barracuda are commemorated at the Tower Hill Memorial, London.[12]


She was powered by a double reduction geared steam turbine of 600 horsepower (450 kW) which was built by General Electric Corp, Schenectady, New York.[7] She could make 12 knots (22 km/h).[11]

Official number and code letters[edit]

Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers. Sacandaga and Black Heron had the US Official Number 217429.[2] Empire Barracuda had the UK Official Number 168073 and used the Code Letters GNPP.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. p. 414. ISBN 1-85044-275-4.
  2. ^ a b "2217439". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  3. ^ "American International Shipbuilding Corp., Philadelphia PA". Shipbuildinghistory. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Empire Barracuda". Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  5. ^ "Black Diamond Lines". Maritime Timetable Images. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  6. ^ "Telegrams in Brief". The Times (48822). London. 13 January 1941. col G, p. 3.
  7. ^ a b c "LLOYDS REGISTER, STEAMERS & MOTORSHIPS" (PDF). Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  8. ^ "Convoy OB.297". Convoyweb. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  9. ^ "CONVOY ON 9". Warsailors. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  10. ^ "CONVOY HX 151". Warsailors. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Convoy OS.11". Convoyweb. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  12. ^ "Ship Index A-F". Brian Watson. Retrieved 20 May 2011.

Coordinates: 35°30′N 6°17′W / 35.500°N 6.283°W / 35.500; -6.283