MT Virginia Sinclair sunk by U-185/Maus 10 March 1943 off Bahamas, Cuba

Virginia Sinclair

            The 6,151-ton tanker Virginia Sinclair was built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts (Bethlehem Steel) in 1930. She was owned by the Sinclair Refining Company of New York and flagged to Wilmington, Delaware. Her dimensions were 126.9 meters long by 17.4 meters wide. A single steam turbine engine propelled her at 13 knots.
            On her final voyage the Virginia Sinclair left Baytown Texas with 66,211 barrels of aviation gasoline. She joined a convoy from Key West to Guantanamo Cuba named KG 123. The ship’s ultimate destination was Cristobal, Panama, probably to supply the US Army and Navy aircraft flying from Coco Solo and other air bases involved in anti-submarine warfare patrols.

            As the Virginia Sinclair entered the Windward Passage on the morning of 10thMarch 1943, she sailed into the periscope sights of U-185 under August Maus. The ship had just rounded Cape Maysi and was south of Inagua when a torpedo struck her on the starboard side. The expolosion occurred near the stern and disabled the steering gear. An officer and two other watch standers were killed below.

            Seventeen minutes later, Maus sent a coup-de-grace into the ship. As a result the ship sunk except for fifteen feet of the bow, which bobbed in the water until 15 minutes after 1 am. T roughly 2 am an escort sank the ship with gunfire. The survivors included 8 officers, 23 crew and four amred guards as well as two naval signalmen. Altogether one raft and three lifeboats were deployed from the ship as she rapidly sank by the stern. The 37 survivors were picked up by a Submarine Chaser (SC 742)  and taken to Guantanamo Bay. Four of them were hospitalized.

Captain Fred Charles Vosloh lead a crew of 44 persons, including four armed guard and eight merchant officers. The ship was armed with one four-inch gun and two .30-caliber machine guns.