Santiago de Cuba
The Manzanillo and the Santiago de Cuba were operating on a trade route which forms the extreme southwest boundary of this research. Their only nexus to the Bahamas was their relative proximity to Cay Sal Bank, but even that is a stretch since they were sunk just south-southwest of Key West – as in a matter of miles. Because this study sets out to include all vessels within certain boundaries, short summaries of both vessels will be included, but they will be short. Because the Faja de Oro incident took place just west of the same line, it is not included, though referenced in the Protrero del Llano sinking account. The ship Norwalk was in a collision in this border area, but that was not a direct result of a U-Boat attack.
The destroyer US Sturtevant, involved in the rescue of crew from several ships mentioned herein was accidentally mined and sunk northwest of Key West as were a small handful of allied merchant ships. They do not merit inclusion because the geographic position is simply too attenuated, the US / Mexican Gulf area has already been well covered historically, and it is simply too much of a Pandora’s box to open. Where an attack like that on the E. P. Theriault, where scuttling charges were used, is Jermaine to other similar attacks – say on the Gertrude or Sande – in the Bahamas area, then it is cited.
The Cuban cargo ship Santiago de Cuba was built in 1908 by Neptun Schiffswerft und Maschinenfabrik A.G. of Rostock, Germany on the Baltic Sea. Weighing in at 1,685 tons she was steam-driven to 8.5 knots, 79.7 meters long, and 12.2 m wide. She had a colorful history under the flags of Germany, the US and Cuba. Owned by Zelck O. of Rostock as the Clara Menning from 1909 to 1917, she was captured by the Americans and named the Yadkin by the US governments, then under Cuban interests from 1920 to 1923 sailed as the Caridad Sala (wrecksite.eu, Uboat.net). From 1923 until her demise she sailed as the Santiago de Cuba, owned by Empresa Naviera de Cuba SA, Havana and named after the large and historic city in the southeastern coast of Cuba.
The twelfth of August 1942 found the Santiago de Cuba in convoy with the smaller Cuban ship Manzanillo and others between Port Everglades and Havana, with a final American port call in Key West, the extremity of the Florida Keys in terms of shipping ports. Less than 80 miles from its destination, the convoy which was known as Special Convoy or Spec-Con number 12, was struck by U-508 under the command of George Staats, which had been having a busy time with the ships James A. Moffett and Umtata in the area and keeping the likes of trigger-happy volunteers Ernest Hemingway in suspense. Her cargo was general and course south-southwest, bucking a current from the Gulf Stream on the starboard beam when at 13:55 German time (just after dawn local time) Staats torpedoed Stantiago de Cuba as well as the Manzanillo, a smaller freighter in the same convoy. The Santiago de Cuba was sent to the bottom in very deep water. Only nineteen out of her total complement of twenty-nine officers and crew were able to make it to nearby rescue craft in time. Ten of her crew, or over one third, perished in the attack (Wrecksite.eu, Tony Allen, uboatwaffe.net, Uboat.net).