Ships hit by U-boats

Empire Razorbill

British Steam merchant

Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson Collection

NameEmpire Razorbill
Type:Steam merchant (Hog Island)
Tonnage5,118 tons
Completed1920 - American International Shipbuilding Corp, Hog Island PA 
OwnerDouglas & Ramsay Ltd, Glasgow 
Date of attack14 Dec 1940Nationality:      British
FateDamaged by U-96 (Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock)
Position59° 31'N, 13° 15'W - Grid AL 3182
Complement? men (0 dead and ? survivors).
ConvoyOB-257 (dispersed)
RouteSwansea - Milford Haven - St. John, New Brunswick 
History Completed in April 1920 as Conness Peak for US Shipping Board (USSB), Philadelphia. 1921 sold to Pioneer SS Corp, Philadelphia. 1932 returned to USSB and 1937 sold to Lykes Bros SS Co Ltd, New Orleans. 1938 renamed Erica Reed for Wisconsin SS Co Inc, New York. 1939 renamed Eastern Trader for American Coast Line Inc, New York. 1940 given to Britain and renamed Empire Razorbill by Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).

1947 sold to Greece and renamed M. Xilas for Xilas Bros, Piræus. On 4 Jun 1947, the ship caught fire at Kohsichang, foundered on 13 July in shallow waters and was declared a total loss. 
Notes on event

At 21.02 hours on 14 Dec 1940 the unescorted Empire Razorbill, dispersed the day before from convoy OB-257, was attacked by U-96 with six rounds from the deck gun, observing three hits about 120 miles north of Rockall. The U-boat had not been able to get into a favorable attack position due to bad weather and tried to stop the ship with gunfire, but ceased the attack when they saw that Empire Razorbill was armed to wait for the weather to improve, but lost contact in a snow squall during the night. The slighty damaged ship escaped and safely arrived in St. John on 24 December.


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