SHIP NOTES: (Sources: Jordan, Moore, Gentile)
previous name: Hugoton (1941)
Type: Tanker
Built: 1919 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation Owner: Mexican Trading and Shipping Company, New York, NY
Home Port: Wilmington, DE
Size (ft.): 454-0 x 56-3 x 27-7 Gross Tonnage: 6943 tons
Propulsion: Single screw reciprocating steam engine/speed 11 knts
Date Sunk: torpedoed and sunk 4/10/1942 Cause: Torpedoed by U-552
Location Cape Lookout, NC GPS:
Stern: N34° 32.800'/W76° 00.833'
Bow: N34° 32.349'/W76° 00.926'

Tamaulipas as the Hugoton (Gentile)
SHIP HISTORY: (Sources: Moore, Gentile, Wynn)
Until 1941, the tanker Tamaulipas was owned by Mallory & Company of New York, NY and ran under the name Hugoton until 1941 when it was sold to the Mexican Trading and Shipping Company and renamed. As the Tamaulipas it made the run from Tampico in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico carrying various petroleum products to the refinaries in the United States.
On the night of April 9, 1942, the Tamaulipas had just passed Cape Lookout, NC. She was traveling alone and unarmed carrying 70,000 barrels of gas oil. Her destination was New York City. So far her trip had been uneventful, but that was soon to change. Sometime before midnight a ship's lookout reported that a torpedo had just crossed the tankers wake. Captain Falkenberg immediately ordered the Tamaulipas into a zig-zag course. If he was being tracked by a u-boat, he wanted to make his ship as difficult a target as possible. Just after midnight, another lookout reported that motors were heard astern of the Tamaulipas. The captain immediately orderd hard starboard, but to no avail. At 0027, at torpedo from the U-552 hit the tanker on the starboard side just aft of the midship house at the #5 tank. The explosion broke the back of the Tamaulipas and soon spread burning flames of oil over the water and mortally wounded tanker. She started to settle amidships with her stern and bow above water.
Recognizing his ship was dead, Falkenberg ordered the Tamaulipas abandoned 5 minutes after the torpedo struck. They escaped in #1 and #3 lifeboats. A few hours later, the 35 survivors were picked up by the HMS Norwich City and taken to Morehead City, NC. There they joined survivors of the Atlas which was sunk earlier on April 9, another victim of KL Erich Topp and the U-552.
Topp and his boat were responsible for a particularly deadly week off of Virginia/North Carolina, also sinking the David H. Atwater, Byron T. Benson, British Splendour, and Lancing.
HMS Norwich City - here in pre-war photo - picked up Tamaulipas survivors (32)

Diving Depths: 135-160 ft.
Generally very good; range 50 to 100+ ft.
Slight to undiveable
Summer Temperature:
high 70s to lo 80s with occasional thermocline
Points of Interest:
Stern: Two large boilers, very large engine, stern anchor, propeller, rudder, somewhat intact stern, intact deck and hull section forward of the boilers; Bow: Upside down, but intact;
Fish/Animal Life: African pompano, amberjacks, grouper; sandtiger shark; other less frequent visitors include eagle rays, dolphins and sea turtles
Also know locally as the Far East Tanker, the Tamaulipas broke into two parts which settled a close, (but not swimmable!) distance from each other. The sections seem to have broken right at the bri dge/wheel house area, but it is unclear whether the bridge/midship house was destroyed or lies somewhere between the two pieces a la Naeco. The bow half is less visited and consists mainly of the upside down, intact, large forward tanker section and bow. In a current, it's "turtle-like" surface is sometimes a hard catch for a boats anchor. The stern half sits on her keel and has a high, intact deck section (135-145 feet), drops off to the engine and boilers, and then rises back up to the stern, which is lying on its starboard side. This section is contiguous and generally easy to navigate.

Photo mosaic of Tamaulipas engine
On the stern deck & down into the hold
Sandtiger swims across stern deck
Small anchor bolted into the stern
Framing of stern fantail curve - note anchor bolted in center right of picture
Port side boiler with deck rising in background
Stern steering station toppled into sand
Upside down bow section at break
Upside down bow at bowpoint

Unless specifically noted, all photos, text and content Copyright © 2005 by Paul M. Hudy

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