SS Alexander Macomb

SS Alexander Macomb was a Liberty ship of the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. Construction began on Hull 2023 on 18 February 1942 at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland, under Maritime Commission contract 0036. See, List of Liberty ships: M-R.[3] The ship was launched on 6 May, and her sea trials were completed on 2 June. She was named for Alexander Macomb, an American General known chiefly for his leadership at the Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812.[4]

Name: Alexander Macomb
Builder: Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Baltimore, Maryland
Yard number: 2023
Laid down: 18 February 1942
Launched: 6 May 1942
In service: 2 June 1942
Fate: Damaged by a torpedoed and scuttled, 3 July 1942
General characteristics
Type: Liberty ship
Displacement: 14,245 long tons (14,474 t)[1]
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)
Beam: 56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)
Draft: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)
  • 2 × oil-fired boilers
  • Triple expansion steam engine
  • Single screw
  • 2,500 hp (1,864 kW)
Speed: 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph)
Range: 23,000 mi (37,000 km)
Capacity: 10,856 tonnes deadweight (DWT)[1]
Crew: 41 crew, 25 Armed Guards[2]

Service history

Her first Captain was Carl Froisland, a sailor with long experience of the Atlantic. She steamed to New York and there loaded her cargo of Sherman tanks, P-38 aircraft and explosives for the Soviet Union, and then joined convoy BX 27 to Halifax.[5] On this maiden voyage across the Atlantic, she had 41 crew and 25 U.S. Navy gunners on board.[2]

Two hundred miles east of Orleans Massachusetts, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-215. Ten of the crew were lost. HMS Le Tigre and HMS Veteran pursued U-215 and succeeded in sinking it with depth charges. HMCS Regina (K234), a Canadian corvette that was not part of the convoy, assisted in the rescue of the crew of Alexander Macomb and picked up twenty-five survivors, while others in the convoy rescued the remainder.[2]

The wreck of the Alexander Macomb was rediscovered in October 1964 by the Risdon Beazley company salvage ship Droxford at position 41°48′N 66°35′W. The bulk of the metal cargo was removed in 1965 by the same ship. It is considered to be "dangerous to dive."[6]

The wreck of U-215 was discovered by Canadian divers and marine archaeologists in July 2004.[7]


  1. Davies, 2004, page 23.
  2. "Alexander Macomb (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats -". Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  3. Liberty Ships built by the United States Maritime Commission.
  4. "Bethlehem Fairfield". Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  5. Hague, Arnold. "BX Convoy Series". Arnold Hage Convoy Database. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  6. "SS Alexander Macomb wreck, 1942". Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  7. "CBC News - Canada - First-ever U-boat found off Canadian coast". 13 July 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
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