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501' x 68' 37'
Built in Quincy, Massachusetts during 1941. Registered as SS Stanvac Manila in Panama and operated by Socony Vacuum Oil Co. under the command of Master Gustav Benton. This vessel operated as a fuel tanker with a capacity of 134,000 barrels.
When the United States entered World War II, this vessel was placed under the control of the United States War Shipping Administration and allotted to the U.S. Maritime Commission but remained registered in Panama.
World War II, contracted by the U.S. Navy (USN) to transport fuel and cargo and was manned by a crew of of 50 merchant sailors plus 27 U.S. Navy guards and 88 U.S. Navy personnel.
On April 2, 1943 departs New York bound for the Panama Canal. On May 3, 1943 arrives Balboa in Panama and embarked six PT Boats that were placed in cradles as deck cargo: PT-167 and PT-172 (forward of the bridge, facing forward) plus PT-173 and PT-171 (aft of the bridge facing forward) and PT-174 and PT-165 (aft, facing forward) afterwards, transited via the Panama Canal across the Pacific Ocean bound for Nouméa on New Caledonia.
On May 24, 1943 at 4:07am hit in the port quarter by a torpedo fired by Japanese Submarine I-17 roughly 100 miles south of Nouméa. The torpedo hit the engine, a fire room and crew compartment that disabling all power and communications and the abandon ship sounded but only heard on part of the vessel. Two minutes, the stern began to sink with the after portion of the well deck awash. managed to continue for three miles before it lost all power and began to sink.
The crew was able to deploy two life rafts and all six PT Boats were freed from their cradles but PT-165 and PT-173 were so badly damaged they were scuttled. At 12:05pm the damaged ship sank and corkscrewed as the bow heaved upwards. One of the life rafts capsized and were picked up by the four surviving PT Boats.
During the torpedoing and sinking, twelve of the crew were lost: 1 U.S. Merchant Seaman Leroy Tilley, 7 Filipino seamen Victor Armaso, Catalino Masa, Apalonio Cacitoit, Gervasio Sallader [Sallador], EIpidio M. de Vega, Nicolas Palaspas and Santiago Flores. Also lost was 1 PT Boat crewmen. Eleven others were injured and later required hospitalization.
At 1:00pm, USS Preble (DD-345) reached the sinking location to rescue the surviving crew and towed the PT-167, PT-171 and PT-174 to Nouméa Harbor. PT-172 made the same trip under its own power.
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy (1962) page 112-113, 569 (index)
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy - Part III (Online) pages 112-113
Columbia Magazine - In memory of S1c Charles Austin Garnett (1924-1943)
Foreign Flag Vessels Under Control of the War Shipping Administration - SS Stanvac Manila
PT171.org "May 24, 1943: The Sinking of the Stanvac Manila quotes At Close Quarters page 112
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