SS Fairport (1941)

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Name: SS Fairport
Owner: Waterman Steamship Company[1]
Port of registry: United States Mobile, Alabama[2]
Yard number: 1[3]
Launched: 15 November 1941[3]
Completed: April 1942[3]
Fate: sunk by U-161, 16 July 1942[1]
General characteristics
Type: Type C2-S-E1 ship
Tonnage: 6,165 GRT[3]
Length: 445 ft 0 in (135.64 m)[2]
Beam: 63 ft 0 in (19.20 m)[2]
Draft: 31 ft 2 in (9.50 m)[2]
Propulsion: 2 steam turbines, geared to a single screw propeller[2]
Speed: 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h)[3]
Crew: 10 officers, 33 men, 14 Naval Armed Guardsmen
  • 1 × 4 in (100 mm) gun
  • 4 × .50 in (13 mm) machine gun
  • 2 × .30 in (7.6 mm) machine gun

SS Fairport was a Type C2-S-E1 cargo ship built by Gulf Shipbuilding for the Waterman Steamship Company. She was sunk by German submarine U-161 on 16 July 1942. All hands were rescued by an American destroyer.


Fairport was laid down as the first ship constructed at Gulf Shipbuilding of Chickasaw, Alabama.[3] Constructed under a United States Maritime Commission contract (MC hull number 849) on behalf of the Waterman Steamship Company of Mobile, Alabama,[3][4] she was launched on 15 November 1941.[3] After Fairport's April 1942 completion, she was registered at Mobile and armed with a 4-inch (100 mm) deck gun and six machine guns, and took on fourteen Naval Armed Guardsmen to man the guns.[1]

On 13 July 1942, Fairport departed New York with convoy WS 4 for the Persian Gulf.[1] She was carrying a cargo of 8,000 long tons (8,128.375 t) of materiel which included a deck load of tanks,[5] and also carried 66 passengers.[1] The convoy consisted of six other merchant ships and an escort of three destroyers; Fairport's station in the convoy was in position #12, the second ship in the port column.[1]

At 09:45 on 16 July,[1] near position 27°10′N 64°33′W / 27.167°N 64.550°W / 27.167; -64.550Coordinates: 27°10′N 64°33′W / 27.167°N 64.550°W / 27.167; -64.550 or about 500 nautical miles (930 km) northwest of the Virgin Islands, Fairport was struck by two torpedoes launched by Korvettenkapitän Albrecht Achilles, the commander of German submarine U-161.[5] The first torpedo struck the cargo ship's #4 cargo hold on the port side, starting a fire that was quickly extinguished by inrushing seawater. The second torpedo struck ten seconds after the first, and opened a 30-by-25-foot (9.1 by 7.6 m) hole near the #1 hold. The engines were secured and the vessel ordered abandoned five minutes later. Fifteen minutes after the attack, Fairport sank by the stern.[1] All 123 persons aboard the ship (10 officers, 33 men, 14 Naval Armed Guardsmen, 66 passengers) were rescued by destroyer Kearny,[1] and landed at New York on 21 July.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Browning, p. 187.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Register of Ships (1941–42 ed.). London: Lloyd's Register of Shipping.  Scan of page "F" (pdf) hosted at Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Fairport (2241559)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 6 July 2009. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ Colton, Time. "Halter Marine - Chickasaw, Chickasaw AL". The Colton Companies. Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "Allied Ships hit by U-boats: Fairport". Retrieved 6 July 2009.