Panam, dated August 29, 1941, location unknown. Photo courtesy of The Mariners' Museum.

The Sinking of the Panam:

The tanker was completed in September 1925 and was named Otokia for Union SS Co. of New Zealand Ltd of London. It was then sold to Panama in 1937 and renamed Panam and operated by Cia Maritima Istmenia Ltda, Panama. Then on July 14, 1942, while in New York, it was seized by the U.S. War Shipping Administration (WSA) and assigned to the Marine Transport Lines Inc. of New York. This tanker was one of many Panamanian vessels that had been seized by the U.S. government. 

The tanker's crew consisted of 37 merchant seamen and 14 Naval Armed Guard. On May 1, 1942, the Panam left New York carrying only ballast water (used to stabilize the ship at sea). The tanker was a member of Convoy NK-53 that included 17 vessels heading to Key West, Florida. Then on May 4, the Panam began to experience engine troubles which resulted in it lagging behind the convoy starting at 7:00 AM. At the same time, the German U-boat U-129 was patrolling the area and spotted the troubled tanker. At 2:18 Pm, the U-129 fired one torpedo on the port side in the engine room of Panam. The explosion killed two crew members. Minutes later a second torpedo hit the port side amidships. This second torpedo destroyed the pump room. At that point, the crew and the Naval Armed Guards abandoned the ship in three lifeboats. The ship sunk by 2:55 PM. They were rescued by USS SC-664 at 8:00 PM and taken to Morehead City, North Carolina four hours later.

Panam had the distinction of being the last ship sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of North Carolina.


Built: 1925 Sunk: May 4, 1943
Type of Vessel: Tanker Owner: United States War Shipping Administration, Chartered to Marine Transport Lines, Inc.
Builder: Livingstone and Cooper Ltd., Hessle, UK Power: Oil engines
Port of registry: Panama Dimensions: 438.7' x 57.2'
Former Name: Otokia  


Here is the location of the sinking: 34° 11'N, 76° 12'W



Total Lost: 2, Survivors: 49

LastFirstDate of DeathPositionHomeAge
 Blomgren Knut May 4, 1943 Third Assistant Engineer Port Richmond, NY 30
Magill William H. May 4, 1943 Wiper East Fairfield, OH 22


A  listing of the surviving crew: 

 Anders Everett H. Crew Member 1917    26
Anderson Alf Crew Member 1924   19
Atero Juan Crew Member 1894   49
Baccarani Emilie Crew Member 1915   28
Beekhuysen John Crew Member 1916   27
Benoit Hormisdad Crew Member 1916   27
Brown   Radioman 3rd Class      
Carviel Edward Crew Member 1924   19
Chernewak Michael Seaman 1st Class      
Clois Marius V. Crew Member 1920   23
Collins John F. Crew Member 1923   20
 Denham Howard Crew Member 1922   21
Depczemslo Ferdinand George Gunner's Mate 3rd Class      
Eung Lee S. Crew Member 1885   58
Fagre Leonard M. Signalman 3rd Class      
Flynn Thomas L. Crew Member 1924   19
Foss Erling Crew Member 1909   34
Franco James C. Crew Member 1924   19
Gibson   Seaman First Class      
Hacherty Edward Crew Member 1914   29
Iisager Børge Mate Aug. 16, 1921 Jacksonville, FL 21
Karlson Frans Crew Member 1903   40
Kellar Louis Able Seaman 1921   22
Knudsen Jørgen Master/Captain 1885   58
Kristensen Henry Crew Member 1909   34
Lanza Emilio Crew Member 1923   20
Leming Thomas Crew Member 1925   18
Long Patrick J. Seaman 1st Class      
Matousek Leopold Fireman/Watertender 1914   29
Mayle Earl Edward Seaman 1st Class      
McKenna, Jr. Joseph J. Seaman 1st Class      
Mobley Robert D. Gunner's Mate 3rd Class      
Myers Charles F. Seaman 1st Class      
Nottbeck John Crew Member 1920   23
Perantoni Fred Bruno Seaman 1st Class      
Pybus Alexander Crew Member 1918   25
Radwinsky Albert Crew Member 1916   27
Rosstad Olav Crew Member 1921   22
Ryll George Crew Member 1918   25
Salvatore Angelo Crew Member 1927   16
Sprague James E. Crew Member 1918   25
Stanford Clarence Crew Member 1924   19
Stevenson Aaron Crew Member 1916   27
Sørensen Percival Crew Member 1915   28
Tricarico Frank Leonard Seaman 1st Class      
Velazquez John L. Seaman 1st Class      
Wirstrom Nils Åke Chief Engineer May 19, 1917 New Orleans, LA 25
Zapp Raymond P. Crew Member 1923   20
Zinn Arley T. Lieutenant (Junior Grade)      


Low-frequency sonar image of the wreck site thought to be the Panam. Photo courtesy of NOAA.


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