U-753 surprised by SS Domino on June 2, 1942 – under Alfred Manhart von Mannstein

Domino sister ship Bethnor, at time of launching, 1919.

Photo source: http://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/IX4/IX208.html

Since this was a case of a German sub being surprise to virtually run into a drifting Allied ship at night, and though shots were fired it was not a formal attack, little is known about this incident.

For that reason I’ll let the record speak for itself, with the original “survivors statements” from the Domino and a summary of the German commander’s diary at the relevant time:

No hits on the U-boat.  After some trouble with his MGs, the CO says he submerged because he couldn’t have sunk the ship so close to the harbor without being disturbed.

U-753 under Alfred Manhart von Mannstein was the sub caught by surprise.

Here is basic information on the Domino: built by Bethlehem Steel in Wilmington, as the DELCO, Deleware, launched 23 July 1919, future name US Navy IX-208, 5,150 Deadweight tons, 338 feet long, 328 feet on the waterline, 46.2 foot beam, 21 foot draft. Speed was 9 knots, single screw engine of 1,650 horsepower.

Source: http://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/IX4/IX208-p.html
“The Domino was near Nuevitas Bay, Cuba, awaiting daylight to enter the port on June 2, 1942. At 0505 a surfaced submarine opened fire with her machine gun. The ship replied with her four inch gun. The submarine crashed dived after three rounds had been fired. One of the merchant crewmen insisted that the second round hit the submarine. The Domino had been hit by machine gun fire.

A large oil slick appeared and was seen by the master of the Vera Cruz. The coxswain in charge of the Armed Guard crew reported that the second shot struck at the base and a little forward of the conning tower and that the third shot bounced off the submarine. It would appear likely that damage was done to the submarine. At any rate, her attack on the merchant ship was frustrated…”

Source http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/Admin-Hist/173-ArmedGuards/173-AG-3.html

Domino was acquired by the US Navy on 15 May 1945, but found unsuitable even as a breakwater due to engine breakdowns and rejected a month later, on 25 Jun 45.  Sold to a commercial buyer 22 Nov 47, and scrapped by 1 June 1948.

FY 1944. DOMINO was one of seven medium-sized EFC Design 1094 freighters ordered from the former Harlan & Hollingsworth yard at Wilmington, Del., by then part of the Bethlehem Steel Co. Five of the ships were built at the Wilmington yard while the other two were transferred to Bethlehem’s yard at Elizabethport, N.J., for construction.

On 25 Oct 44 VCNO asked WSA for three hulks for ultimate use as Bureau of Yards and Docks construction equipment, the tanker CALICHE and the freighters EASTERN PILOT (Soviet GILIAK) and BENLEDI (Soviet CHETVERTIY KRABOLOV). In addition he asked that the freighter DOMINO, then laid up at Mobile, Ala., be allocated to the Navy for a voyage to the Pacific with Bureau of Yards and Docks equipment and subsequent acquisition for the same purpose. WSA allocated DOMINO to the Navy on 3 Nov 44 and she was scheduled to depart Gulfport, Miss., for Guam on about 24 Nov 44. On 23 Nov 44 CNO informed CinCPOA that he was then authorized to take delivery of the vessel from WSA. She was ultimately to be used as “BuDocks construction equipment” and was not to be classified (given a hull number), commissioned, placed in service, or taken up on the List of Naval Vessels. (Three of these four ships were expended as breakwaters in the Western Pacific between April and June 1945, DOMINO being the only survivor.)

On 26 Jan 45 CinCPOA reported that DOMINO, which had been designated for use as a breakwater ship, had been inspected and was considered satisfactory for use instead as mobile dry storage. On 28 Jan 45 CNO modified his earlier instructions and directed CinCPOA to commission the vessel as an IX, and on 3 Feb 45 the Auxiliary Vessels Board followed suit by recommending that the ship be acquired from WSA upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor and after necessary repairs be put into commission for assignment to ServPac as an IX. The Navy name DOMINO and classification IX-208 were approved on 30 Jan 45. On 23 Apr 45 however an inspection board in Hawaii reported that the vessel was in poor material condition throughout and that she would require four months’ work and about $250,000 to put into proper condition. This board recommended that she not be accepted from WSA, although it noted that CinCPOA was not entirely in agreement.

On 3 May 45 CNO cancelled his instructions of 28 Jan 45 and stated that his instructions of 23 Nov 44 were once again in effect. DOMINO was transferred by WSA to the Navy at Pearl Harbor on 15 May 45 as BuDocks construction equipment. On 25 Jun 45 the Auxiliary Vessels Board also changed its previous position and recommended that the ship be used as construction equipment under the cognizance of BuDocks. The hull number IX-208 was subsequently listed as “not acquired” as of 25 Jun 45. The ship was retained at Pearl Harbor for possible use as a blockship in future operations, but was not so used. She was towed back to the West Coast between 18 and 31 Jan 46 with a Navy crew on board and was delivered to the MC reserve fleet at Suisun Bay on 13 Feb 46.

Source: http://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/IX4/IX208.html