The Sinking of the Caribsea

The Caribsea was first built as the Lake Flattery for U.S. Shipping Board and in 1923 was renamed the Buenaventura for the Panama Rail Road Co out of New York. In 1940, it was renamed the Caribsea for Stockard SS Co. which was also out of New York.

The Caribsea left Santiago, Cuba on March 5, 1942, with 3,600 tons of manganese ore to be delivered to Norfolk, Virginia. The ship was given no provisions to protect itself from attack even though twenty-nine ships had been torpedoed sunk over the past six weeks.

On March 11, 1942, at 7:58 AM, the unescorted and unarmed Caribsea captained by Nicholas Manolis was missed by one torpedo from U-158 about 14 miles east of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The torpedo missed, because the captain of the U-boat, Erwin Rostin, thought the ship (misidentified as Coast Guard vessel) lay dead in the water. However, Captain Manolis reduced the speed of the vessel to four or five knots, according to the order he has received to pass Cape Hatteras in daylight. A second torpedo was fired, which struck the starboard bow at the #2 hatch, causing the boilers to explode. The Caribsea sank by the head due to her cargo in less than three minutes. Because the attack was so swift and the sinking occurred so quickly, no radio distress signals were sent and the crew of eight officers and 20 men had no chance to launch the lifeboats. The few survivors climbed onto two rafts that floated free and they later observed U-158 passing within 100 yards.

At approximately 8:00 AM, a convoy of three tankers, escorted by a destroyer, passed with three miles of the stranded crewmen. However, they were not seen by the passing vessels. A half-hour later a seaplane flying south was seen, but then again they were not spotted. At 10:00 another seaplane flew over heading north and then east but once again no luck for the remaining crewmen. Finally, at approximately 12:30 PM the SS Norlindo was heading north for Baltimore. The crew on the lift raft made use of a small metal can and was it as a reflector. A lookout spotted the light flashing through their glasses and the ship turned towards the survivors. Two officers and five crewmen were picked up by the American steam merchant SS Norlindo. On March 12, they were transferred to a Coast Guard dispatch boat and taken to Little Creek Coast Guard Station. From here they were transferred to the Marine Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. Three survivors were transported by ambulance due to injuries. The remaining crew members traveled by Navy station wagon.

On March 23, 1942, an anti-submarine patrol plane mistook the mask of the Caribsea for a periscope and dropped a depth charge on it. Finally, in 1944 the wreck was demolished to clear the area for other vessels traveling along the corridor.  


Built: 1919 Sunk: March 11, 1942
Type of Vessel: Freighter Owner: Stockard Steam Ship Corp.
Builder: McDougall Duluth Company, Duluth, MN Power: Oil-fired steam
Port of registry: New York, NY Dimensions: 251' x 43' x 25'
Previous Names: Buenaventura, Lake Flattery Lost Crew: 21


Here is the location of the sinking: N34° 36.414'/W76° 18.846'



A listing of the lost crew: Total Crew Lost: 21, Survivors: 7

Adorno Isidro 3/11/1942 Wiper Arroyo PR Unknown
Arquero Mariano 3/11/1942 Steward Houston TX Unknown
Baggs William Henry 3/11/1942 Messman New Orleans LA Unknown
Bryson James Vincent 3/11/1942 Bosun Philadelphia PA Unknown
Erlandson Karl Birger [Briger] 3/11/1942 Chief Mate New York NY [Mora Sweden] Unknown
Flynn Thomas James 3/11/1942 F/W Brooklyn NY Unknown
Gaskill James Baugham 3/11/1942 3rd Mate Pasadena MD Unknown
Gilmore Raymond Charles 3/11/1942 1st Engineer Vincennes IN Unknown
Goldstein Clifford 3/11/1942 Cook New York NY Unknown
Gonzalez Jose 3/11/1942 F/W New York NY Unknown
Halpern Saul 3/11/1942 Radio Officer Bronx NY Unknown
Hardy Thomas Hollis 3/11/1942 A.B. Portland ME Unknown
Hunt John Joseph 3/11/1942 A.B. Detroit MI Unknown
Larsen Adolph Lauritz 3/11/1942 A.B. Richmond VA Unknown
Lehay Joseph Clyde 3/11/1942 Oiler Mobile AL Unknown
Martinez Antonio 3/11/1942 Messman San Juan PR Unknown
Mason Charles Golden 3/11/1942 Chief Engineer Turlock CA Unknown
Sanchez Jose 3/11/1942 Oiler New York NY Unknown
Spence Hugh Alva 3/11/1942 2nd Mate Beaumont TX Unknown
Tewarie Kenneth Dyanand 3/11/1942 Galleyman Georgetown British Guiana Unknown
Varner Marshall LeRoy 3/11/1942 2nd Engineer Portsmouth VA Unknown

A.B.=Able-Bodied Seaman
O.S.=Ordinary Seaman


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