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USS Dickerson (DD-157/ APD-21)

USS Dickerson (DD-157/ APD-21)


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USS Dickerson (DD-157/ APD-21)

USS Dickerson (DD-157/ APD-21) was a Wickes class destroyer that served on convoy escort duties until 1943 when she was converted into a fast transport. In 1945 she was struck by two kamikazes and suffered such heavy damage that she was sunk by US gunfire two days later.

The Dickerson was named after Mahlon Dickerson, Secretary of the Navy from 1834-38.

The Dickerson was launched on 12 March 1919 at the New York Shipbuilding Co, Camden, and commissioned on 3 September 1919.

Dickerson operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean and in 1921 took part in the combined fleet maneuvers off South America, visiting Valparaiso, Callao, and Balboa, before returning to Hampton Roads where the Atlantic Fleet was reviewed by President W. G. Harding. On 22 July 1921 she was given the task of sinking the former German submarine U-140, which had been taken by the US navy as war reparations after the end of the First World War and then used for aerial bombardment tests.

The Dickerson was decommissioned on 25 June 1922.

The Dickerson was recommissioned on 1 May 1930 and joined the Atlantic Fleet. She took part in the normal mix of operations along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. In 1932 and 1933-34 she took part in fleet exercises on the west coast. She took part in the Presidential Fleet Review of 31 May 1934 at Brooklyn, and then entered the Rotating Reserve as Norfolk, where she underwent an overhaul. In 1935 she joined the Training Squadron, and was used to train the Naval Reserve, operating between Chareston and the Caribbean.

In 1938 the Dickerson joined Destroyer Squadron 10, Atlantic Squadron. She operated as a plane guard for the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) off Norfolk. In the spring of 1939 she took part in fleet landing exercises in the Cairbbean. In the late summer of 1939 she joined Squadron 40-T, then based at Lisbon, Portugal, supporting US citizens caught up in the Spanish Civil War. She visited a number of Spanish ports and helped evacuate refugees from Casablanca.

The Dickerson returned to the US In July 1940. She joined the Neutrality Patrol, and was based at Key West, operating in the Caribbean, until October 1941. In October 1940 she briefly moved to New London to operate with Submarine Squadron 2, but then returned to the Caribbean. In September 1941 she rescued six survivors from the SS Libby Maine.

After the American entry into the Second World War the Dickerson was based at Argentia, Newfoundland, where she spent December 1941 to January 1942 on patrol duties and escorted one convoy to Iceland. She then returned to coastal patrol duties off Norfolk. At the start of 1942 she was part of Destroyer Division 54, Destroyer Squadron 27, Destroyer Flotilla 8. On 19 March she was the victim of a friendly fire incident, when the nervous crew of the SS Liberator opened fire and hit the chartroom. Four men were killed, including her CO, Lt Commander J.K. Reybold. The destroyer escort USS Reybold (DE-177) was named after him.

Between April and August 1942 the Dickerson escorted convoys between Norfolk and Key West. Between August and October 1942 she escorted convoys between Key West and New York. Between October 1942 and January 1943 she escorted convoys between New York and Cuba. In the first half of 1943 she escorted the crucial tanker convoys heading to Gibraltar and Algiers and operated in the Caribbean.

The summer of 1943 saw the start of a series of dramatic changes of activity. In June she joined a hunter-killer anti-submarine group based around the carrier USS Card (CVE-11), which operated in the mid Atlantic. Between 17 July and 13 Auugst she took part in exercises with units of the British fleet from Londonderry.

After this she returned to the US, where she was converted into a high speed transport. On 21 August 1943 she was reclassified as APD-21.

The Dickerson departed for the Pacific on 1 November 1943. She was used to escort convoys from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal, then operated on patrol and escort duty in the Solomons.

On 30 January 1944 she landed a reconnaissance party of New Zealanders on Green Island, withdrawing after being strafed by Japanese aircraft. She then took part in the occupation of the Green Islands, landing New Zealanders on 15 and 20 January. On 20 March she landed US Marines on the undefended Emirau Island.

In April 1944 the Dickerson moved to New Guinea where she supported the landings at Seleo Island and Aitape.

The Dickerson carried an underwater demolition team during the invasion of the Marianas, and supported their operations at Saipan and Guam until July 1944, acting as their supply, control and fire support ship. On 18 June she helped cover the tug Apache (ATF-67) as she rescued the stranded landing craft LCI(G)-348, which had become stuck on the shore on Guam.

After a refit on the west coast the Dickerson returned to New Guinea. On 27 December 1944 she departed for Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, supporting an underwater demolition team during the landings of 9 January 1945.

The Dickerson was part of the screen of a logistics support force during the invasion of Iwo Jima of 19 February 1945. She briefly returned to Leyte carrying 58 prisoners of war. On 24 March she left Leyte as part of the escort for a convoy of LSTs and LSMs heading for Keise Shima, an island which was to be used as a heavy artillery base during the invasion of Okinawa. After completing this mission she moved to the transport area to the south-west of Okinawa. On the night of 2 April one kamikaze aircraft hit the Dickerson at a low angle, slicing off the top of her two remaining stacks then hit the base of the bridge, starting fires. Just afterwards a second kamikaze hit the centre of the forecastle, causing a massive explosion. One of the aircraft was a Kawasaki Ki.45 'Nick' twin engined reconnaissance/ ground attack aircraft. Fifty-four men were killed, including a second commanding officer to be lost on the Dickerson. Damage control efforts had to be abandoned when the fire threatened to reach the forward magazine and the survivors were evacuated. The Bunch (APD-79) and the tug Arikara (AT-98) managed to put out the fires, but the Dickerson was beyond repair, and on 4 April 1945 she was sunk by US gunfire.

The Dickerson earned six battle stars during the Second World War, for the Bismarck Archipelago, Hollandia, Marianas Islands, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)

Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)

Engine

2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)

Range

3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt

- deck

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

114

Launched

12 March 1919

Commissioned

3 September 1919

Hit by kamikaze

2 April 1945

Sunk by gunfire

4 April 1945


USS Dickerson (DD-157)

USS Dickerson (DD-157) was a Wickes-class destroyer in the United States Navy, and was converted to a high-speed transport at Charleston, South Carolina and designated APD-21 in 1943. She was named for Mahlon Dickerson (1770–1853), Secretary of the Navy from 1834 to 1838.

Dickerson was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden in New Jersey on 25 May 1918, launched on 12 March 1919 by Mrs. J. S. Dickerson and commissioned on 3 September 1919. Dickerson was decommissioned on 26 June 1922 and placed in reserve at the New York Navy Yard until recommissioned on 1 May 1930, served with the Rotating Reserve, was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol at Key West on 25 July 1940,


Historical Background

Built during World War I, Liberator was modified for war use and was designated USS Liberator. It operated as a troop transport vessel, carrying troops from St. Nazaire, France, back to the United States, making a total of five trips. In 1919, it was decommissioned and remained in surplus until 1933 when it was bought and returned to a cargo ship. Liberator operated commercially through the outbreak of World War II and was modified with deck guns for protection against U-boat attacks.

Liberator while being fitted at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. in Alameda, Ca. Click here for a larger image. Photo: Courtesy of the National Archives

In mid-March, 1942, USS Dickerson (DD-157) was dispatched to the North Carolina coast to provide assistance for merchant vessels traveling in the area. During the night of March 18, Liberator passed Cape Lookout, North Carolina, and saw a large tanker burning. The Liberator's naval gun crew immediately went to full alert. Liberator had also intercepted radio traffic saying that the U-boat responsible for the attack on the tanker might still be in the area. Therefore, the captain ordered the Liberator to accelerate to full speed out of the area.

USS Dickerson (DD-157) during World War I. In 1943, USS Dickerson was designated as APD-21. Click here for a larger image. Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

In the darkness of night and miles away, USS Dickerson's radar crew picked up a fast-moving surface contact near the burning tanker and thought it was a fleeing U-boat. Running blacked-out and steaming nearly at full speed, USS Dickerson approached the fleeing ship, and it turned out to be the Liberator. However, Liberator's crew did not know that the Dickerson was in the area to assist with the damaged tanker, and the gun crew opened fire on the Dickerson killing several sailors. The Dickerson's captain was also injured, and as he lay dying on the bridge, he ordered the ship to make full speed away and back to Norfolk, Virginia. Unfortunately, the captain died shortly before making port the next day. Unbeknownst to Liberator, they had just driven away their best hope for protection.

Meanwhile, the commotion of all the vessels on the surface attracted the attention of U-332. The next morning, as Liberator was speeding away from the area and thinking that they had battled a U-boat, U-332 lined up for the attack. It fired two torpedoes that struck the freighter setting the cargo on fire and killing five crewmembers in the explosion. The ship sank in less than 30 minutes. Shortly after the sinking, thirty-one crewmembers were rescued by Navy tugboat, USS Umpqua (ATO-25) and taken to Morehead City, North Carolina.


USS Dickerson DD-157


April 2013 Cover of the Month
By Glenn Smith (#8073)

At first glance this cover without even a cachet appears ordinary in the extreme. The Type 3(B-BBT) is common. But then one is drawn to the killer bars, and what is that? OOF? Oink I.? Charleston misspelled? This requires more exploration…and explanation.

So, out comes the trusty atlas…Oink Island? Not there. OK, let’s Google, Bing, Yahoo, and everything else that the web can offer…still no luck, no Oink Island anywhere, especially near Charleston.

Frustrated, we dig further. So we turn to USCS resident Charleston ‘expert’ Bill Mitchell. Bill has not heard of an Oink Island, and speculates that it may have been a sandbar that covered and uncovered at one time in the past, and 1935 was a long time ago. The shifting sands of Charleston Harbor, coupled with Army Corps of Engineers dredging may have ‘removed’ Oink Island forever…or at least until the sands shift again.

Bill’s theory sounded good, but just to confirm his hypothesis, a check was made with the Charleston Harbor Pilot’s Association, and the USCG Captain of the Port office. Neither harbor pilots nor the Coast Guard had ever heard of an Oink Island.

So, until Oink Island re-emerges, if ever, it shall be relegated to the postal history of a small Navy ship, USS Dickerson DD-157, which apparently anchored near an ‘island’ in January 1935, and had a ‘spelling challenged’ postal clerk in 1935…OOF must have been OFF, and clearly Charleston is misspelled. The captain and/or crew of Dickerson must have named ‘their’ island…’Oink,’ maybe after the ship’s mascot, a pet pig named “Oink” (I made that part up!).


USS Dickerson (DD-157/ APD-21) - History

(DD-157: dp. 1,090, 1. 314'S", b. 31'8", dr. 9'4" s. 36 k. cpl. 101 a. 4 4", 2 3", 12 21" tt. c. Wickes)

Dickerson (DD-167) was launched 12 March 1919 by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J., sponsored by Mrs. J. S. Dickerson, and commissioned 3 September 1919, Commander F. V. McNair in command.

Dickerson operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean and in 1921 took part in the combined fleet maneuvers off South America, visiting Valparaiso, Callao, and Balboa, before returning to Hampton Roads where the Atlantic Fleet was reviewed by President W. G. Harding. Entering New York Navy Yard in November 1921, Dickerson was decommissioned there 26 June 1922.

Recommissioned 1 May 1930 Dickerson resumed operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean, engaging in tactical exercises with carriers, torpedo firing, and maneuvers with the Fleet. In 1932 and again in 1933-34 she transited the Panama Canal for combined fleet maneuvers on the west coast Upon her return from the latter cruise, she took part in the Presidential Fleet Review 31 May 1934 at Brooklyn, N.Y., then entered Norfolk Navy Yard in August where she was assigned to Rotating Reserve Squadron 19 for overhaul. In 1935 she was attached to the Training Squadron and served as training ship for members of the Naval Reserve, operating between Charleston and Florida and the Caribbean.

Assigned to Destroyer Squadron 10, Atlantic Squadron, in 1938, Dickerson acted as plane guard for Yorktown (CV-5) operating off Norfolk, then took part in the fleet landing exercises in the Caribbean in the spring of 1939. She sailed from Norfolk late that summer to join Squadron 40-T at Lisbon, Portugal. During the year spent in European waters, she visited Spanish ports aided in the evacuation of refugees from Casablanca and executed special mission for the State Department. She returned to Norfolk 25 July 1940.

Dickerson was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol at Key West and except for brief duty at New London with Submarine Squadron 2 in October 1940, remained on patrol in the Caribbean until October 1941. During this time she searched for and recovered six survivors of SS Libby Maine in September. After American entry into the war she was sent to Argentia, Newfoundland, where she continued to patrol a,nd escorted one convoy to Iceland and return (December 1941January 1942).

By March 1942 Dickerson was back at Norfolk for coastal patrol and escort duty. On 19 March while returning to Norfolk she sighted an unidentified ship which fired on the destroyer and badly damaged the charthouse. Four of Dickerson's crew were killed, including her commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander J. K. Reybold. The attacking ship was identified as a nervous merchantman, SS Liberator, and Dickerson continued on to Norfolk for repairs. She returned to duty in April and escorted convoys between Norfolk and Key West until August, between Key West and New York until October and between New York and Cuba until January 1943.

In the first half of 1943 Dickerson operated in the Caribbean and escorted tanker convoys to Gibraltar and Algiers. She joined the Card (CVE-11) hunter-killer group at Casablanca in June for offensive operations in the middle Atlantic. Between 17 July and 13 August she sailed to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for exercises with British Fleet units, returning to Charleston, S C, for conversion to a high-speed transport. She was reclassified APD-21, 21 August 1943.

Dickerson sailed from Norfolk 1 November 1943 for the Pacific. She escorted convoys from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal, then remained in the Solomons on patrol and local escort duty. On 30 January 1944 she landed a reconnaissance group of New Zealanders on Green Island, reembarking them shortly after midnight of 1 February after the boats were strafed by enemy airplanes. On the 15th and 20th she landed troops on the island to capture and occupy it, and on 20 March landed marines on Emirau Island without opposition.

In April 1944 Dickerson arrived at Milne Bay, and during her 2 months in the New Guinea area, supported the landings at Seleo Island and Aitape. After a brief repair period at Pearl Harbor, she arrived at Roi in the Marshalls to embark an underwater demolition team from Dent (APD-9) and carried them into action at Saipan and Guam. She remained in the Marianas as supply, control and fire support ship for her team until the end of July, then returned to the west coast for overhaul the following month.

Dickerson returned to action in November 1944 with her arrival at Aitape, New Guinea. After escort duty in New Guinea, she sailed 27 December for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, on 9 January 1946, again supporting the operations of an underwater demolition team. She reported to Ulithi at the end of January for repairs, then joined the screen of a logistics support force for the invasion of Iwo Jima 19 February. She returned to Leyte with 50 prisoners of war, then departed again 24 March with an LST-LSM convoy which was assigned to capture the island of Keise Shima, on which heavy artillery would be placed for the bombardment of Okinawa. Her mission complete, Dickerson was with the transports southwest of Okinawa on the night of 2 April when the Japanese attacked in strength. One of the suicide-bent planes approached the destroyer in a long, low glide, and slashed off the tops of her two stacks before smashing into the base of her bridge, toppling her mast and starting intense gasoline fires. Almost simultaneously another plane scored a direct hit on the center of her forecastle. The explosion tore a hole in the deck almost the complete width of the ship. Despite immediate fire and damage control measures, Dickerson's crew was forced to abandon ship when the raging fires threatened her forward magazine.

Fifty-four officers and men, including the commanding officer, were lost. Bunch (APD-79) and Herbert (APD22) stood by to rescue survivors, and Bunch succeeded in putting out the fires which had virtually demolished Dickerson. The smouldering hulk was towed to Kerama Retto, then was towed out to sea and sunk on 4 April 1945.


Biography & Loss

John Keane Reybold was born at Delaware City, Del. on 11 January 1903, was appointed midshipman 13 July 1922 and commissioned ensign on 3 June 1926. Having served in various ships including Idaho, Utah, Simpson (on the Asiatic Station), and Omaha, he assumed command of Cowell, on 17 June 1940. Detached on 23 September, he briefly commanded Claxton and on 31 October assumed command of Dickerson (DD 157). [Promoted to] lieutenant commander on 1 January 1941, he commanded Dickerson on Neutrality Patrol and, after December 1941, on coastal patrol and Icelandic convoy escort duty until 19 March 1942. On that date, Dickerson, enroute to Norfolk, was fired on by a nervous merchantman, SS Liberator. Liberator's shells hit the destroyer's charthouse, killing Lt. Comdr. Reybold and three others.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He is buried in New York.

John is listed on the killed in action panel at the front of Memorial Hall.


SS Liberator

The SS Liberator was built in San Francisco by the Bethlehem Ship Building Corporation, at their Alameda Yard, which was originally known as Union Brass and Iron Works when they began operation in 1885. Union Brass and Iron Works built not only ships, but Steam Locomotives and Boilers here. They were purchased by Bethlehem Steel Corporation and became the largest shipyard on the West Coast and produced hundreds of vessels until closing in the 1980's. Produced by this yard were a wide range of vessels, to include submarines and warships, tugs and barges, plus scores of merchant vessels such as the Liberator. Built in 1918, the Liberator was the 151st hull from this builder and the name of the ship during the build process and first launching was "Wichita". The "Wichita" was launched on March 24, 1918 and remained at the yard for completion and fitting out which was finished in July.

The ship apparently never sailed under the Wichita name as she was acquired by the U.S. Shipping Board and assigned to the U.S. Navy on July 2, 1918. She was immediately commissioned the USS Liberator (ID 3134) and prepared for military transport service due to World War I. The ship was given a very interesting paint scheme (World War I type 5, design B, dazzle camouflage shown in the photo to the right) and then she set sail for the Panama Canal. The new Navy vessel headed to New York where she arrived on August 7, 1918. She was immediately loaded and joined a convoy on August 13th carrying war supplies and cargo across the Atlantic. Her first crossing took 15 days and the USS Liberator discharged her first cargo in Brest, France. This transport work continued until the fighting stopped in November of 1918 and then USS Liberator took on another important role. She was returned to the US, then quickly converted into a troop transport ship and USS Liberator made five round trips from Europe bringing the Doughboys home from France. A photo of her in St. Nazaire is shown below - notice the troopship layout with the rows of portholes in her hull. Her work for the war effort was over and she was now surplus Government property.

The USS Liberator was decommissioned from the US Navy in October of 1919 in Hoboken, NJ, and returned to the U.S. Shipping Board. The ship apparently sat in the Government surplus inventory until 1933 when she was sold off to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Company of New Orleans, LA. The Lykes Brothers kept the name of the ship the same, but since she was no longer a Government vessel, it lost the USS designator and now became simply SS Liberator. Converted back to a cargo vessel, the SS Liberator was operated by Lykes Brothers out of Galveston, TX carrying bulk cargo on coastwise routes. This was the service the ship was in at the time of her sinking.

Sinking of the SS Liberator

At dawn March 19, 1942, the SS Liberator was approaching the area of Cape Hatteras carrying a load of 11,000 tons of sulfur from Galveston, TX, bound for New York city and the crew and ship's master were very tense. Hours earlier, just to the South in the area just North of Cape Lookout, the ship had a very harrowing experience. Just past 1AM, the ship's crew had spotted what they believed to be a submarine closing on the freighter in the dark. USN Coxswain Frank Camillo, head of the four man Navy gun crew, went into action and used the stern mounted 4" gun to fire upon this target. The gun crew's training and aim was excellent, hitting the Sub with two rounds from the cannon. Liberator's crew members saw the explosions and the sparks fly as the submarine turned away and disappeared allowing the ship to escape into the night.

Unfortunately, the SS Liberator had fired upon not a submarine but the USS Dickerson, DD-157, a US Navy Destroyer. The first round hit the Dickerson on the starboard side of the Bridge, passing through wing bridge railing, the Chart Room and exploding in the Radio Shack. The second round was also a hit. This attack killed three men immediately and wounding seven others to include the Dickerson's Commander, Lieutenant Commander J. K. Reybold. The Lt Commander died of his wounds 11 hours later, just before the Dickerson docked at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

By 1015am the ship was passing the Diamond Shoals Buoy making 9.5 knots and using a zig-zag course to avoid being an easy target for U-boats. At this location the Liberator was joined by two other overtaking Northbound vessels, the freighter Chester Sun and the tanker SS Esso Baltimore, which were both cutting across the bow of the Liberator. Just as the buoy was passed the Liberator changed course and a terrific explosion occurred. A torpedo struck the port side of the ship at the engine room destroying the engine spaces, the decks above, and killing the five men on duty in the engine room. One of those killed, Howard P. Conway Jr., was a Merchant Marine Cadet who had not yet finished his King's Point Officer's training. He had been sent to sea early due to the lack of manpower during the war and is one of 142 Merchant Marine Cadets who lost their lives serving during WWII.

The ship slowed to a stop and Captain Albin Johnson mustered the crew on deck, finding the five men of the engine room watch missing. Captain Johnson ordered an abandon ship and the 31 surviving crewmen fled in two lifeboats. They saw the ship sink less then 25 minutes after abandoning her, about 1040am. Their rescue was not long in coming as the Navy Tug USS Umpqua came along at 1125am and took them all aboard, delivering them to Morehead City, NC the next day.

The German U-boat U-332 (Liebe) had fired a single torpedo, which struck the port side aft. The U-boat Commander, Kapitanleutnant Johannes Liebe, was also responsible for sinking the Tanker Australia three days earlier. It has been speculated the torpedo was meant for the Esso Baltimore, a much more valuable target, and the Liberator a victim of unlucky timing and bad aim. However, examination of Liebe's report of the attack shows that he made a very deliberate torpedo attack on the Liberator. Liebe knew the type, size and even the name of the vessel, his aim was true and not an error.

Later in the war, the U-332 was attacked by aerial bombardment from RAF Squadron 461 on May 2, 1943, near Cape Finisterre, Spain, and sunk with the loss of all hands. The U-332 was under command of Oberleutenat zur See Eberhard Huttemann at the time of it's sinking.

Captain Albin Johnson went on to be the Master of another vessel, the Liberty ship SS John Penn, and had the misfortune to be shipwrecked once more. While enroute to Archangle, Russia, his ship was struck by torpedoes from Luftwafe aircraft and sunk in the Barents Sea on September 13th, 1942. He survived this assault and continued to serve in the Merchant Marine for the remainder of the war. This is not atypical of the men of the Merchant Marine as many went back to sea after narrow escapes with death. Without this dedication to service, the allies may not have been victorious.

The account of the shelling of the Dickerson and sinking of the SS Liberator was written about in great detail by an unknown U.S. Naval historian for the "Fifth Naval District War Diary". The account related by this historian was compiled from official sources and interviews from survivors just after the events occurred. It was transcribed directly from the microfilm records of the War Diary and is presented on this web site here. It is well worth reading for you to get a full understanding of the event to include the attack against the USS Dickerson. The Dickerson was rebuilt in Norfolk and put back into service. She was heavily damaged during a Japanese Kamikaze attack off Okinawa on April 2 1945 and was scuttled two days later.

Bailey S. Haynie was a crewmember aboard the SS Liberator when it was torpedoed and sunk by the U-332. He memorialized the event and loss of his five shipmates in a poem that was published in a book "Convoy and Other Poems". You can read his poem here on our web site. One of the ships mentioned in the poem is probably the Tanker Australia the other may have been Kassandra Louloudis.

This photo of Liberator was taken at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp Dock in San Fransisco, California, June 21, 1918.

From this bow section some of the lettering of the ship's name was recovered leading to a positive identification of this wreck site. Many incorrect wreck listings have the location of the Liberator listed as the wreck site of the Venore. This site is definitively the SS Liberator and features on the wreck site match those seen on the Liberator's deck plans. The Venore has not yet been located.

The third section is not as large as the other two and also appears to be laying on it's beam but having more of a list to the point of almost being capsized. This section appears to be the forward hull section just aft of the bow, but I have not yet been able to make a safe entry into this section to determine what is contained within. The three sections are arranged into what amounts to a rough triangle with a small debris field scattered just down current behind them and this area contains lumps of the sulfur that was the Liberator's cargo. In the past I have seen various other items in this debris but in the most recent dives to this site, the debris field appears to be mostly sanded over with just large beams and plating protruding from the sand. There is no section that appears to be the actual stern of the vessel, nor any large machinery present at this site above the sand. I have seen pipes and tubing sometimes exposed at the extreme end of the largest section, so this may be where the engines spaces lay.

Though the shipwreck site is heavily damaged from the wire dragging and destructive clearance efforts after the war, these large sections are fairly intact and easily recognized as ship components and rise some 25 feet from the bottom. The SS Liberator is not dived as often as other more widely known wrecks that lay nearby and this is unfortunate as she contains wide range of sea life and no doubt some good artifacts await discovery.

Detail of NOAA sonar scan of the Liberator site.

I have labeled the sections for clarity.
The colors represent depth from the surface,
blue deeper, red highest relief.


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