Dutch SS Amazone sunk by U-333 under Peter ‘Ali’ Cremer off Fort Pierce Inlet, Florida, 6 May 1942

Amazone, photo source Arendnet.com http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/1607.html

            The Amazone was built by Meyer & Co´s Scheepsbouw Mij NV, in Zalt-Bommel, the Netherlands in 1922. Her owners were the Royal Dutch Steamship Line, or Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot Mij NV, to which port she was registered (however Daniel Berg at shipwreckexpo.com/fleastamazone claims she was owned by the Pioneer Steamship Company of Delaware).

            Amazone was a smallish steam freighter of 1,294 tons, with dimensions of 255.1 feet length by 36.8 feet width. Here 138 nhp engine pushed her at only 8.5 knots. On 29 April she left Haiti with a cargo of only 926 tons. It mostly consisted of coffee and oil in drums but also included sisal and oil burners.

               The ship’s overall itinerary was from Curacao to Key West via Haiti, then Key West to New York via the Straits of Florida and the east coast of Florida. Her crew of twenty five was led by Captain J. P. Giltay – her crew was mixed, with some of them from the Dutch Antilles, a Dutch gunner, and a crew member from Switzerland (Uboat.net).

              Ali Cremer, commander of German sub U-333 wrote; “…it was a bright moonlight and everything was visible for miles. Ignoring the danger, a few hours later [after the Java Arrow sinking], a freighter approached: the Amazone, a mere 2,000-tonner from the Royal Dutch Shipping Company of Amsterdam. Why waste words?  – another double shot. The stern broke off, the steamer was burning as the crew took to the boats. We go the names of all the ships from the SOS calls and kept ourselves informed of the measures taken. They were using the radio here without restraint as in peacetime and apparently cared noting about ‘careless talk’” (Cremer, pp.70-71).

              The attack occurred at 09:35 German time on 6 May, 1942, as daylight was threatening to expose Cremer and his crew in U-333. The torpedo hit on the Amazone’s port side, indicating that U-333 was still audaciously firing from the landward, or inside route. It took only two minutes for the ship to plummet to the bottom, taking with it fourteen members, or more than half of the crewmen. The eleven survivors were rescued by the US Navy patrol craft PC 484 and landed in Miami later the same day.

          As for the wreck of the Amazone, it is still intact. Giving us more to learn from a ship about which comparatively little is known. “According to ship historian, Craig Swavely, the Amazone now rests in one piece and leans slightly on her starboard side. Her bow is easily recognized and rises 10-15 feet off the bottom. Her boilers also provide relief and her engine is now resting on its side just behind the wrecks boilers. She is in 90 feet of water with a maximum depth of 100 feet in the wash out around the wreck, 16 miles southeast of Ft. Pierce Inlet. South of the wreck is a deck gun which was blown off the wreck as she went down” (shipwreckexpo.com/fleastamazone).