Source: Gentile, Gary, Shipwrecks of North Carolina: From Diamond Shoals North, Gary Gentile Productions, 1993
Name: LIBERATOR Type: freighter
Date Sunk: 3/19/1942 Cause: Torpedoed by U-552
Size (ft.): 410 x 56 x 29 Tonnage: 7720 tons
Propulsion: Oil-fired steam Location: LORAN: 26888.7/40218.8
SHIP HISTORY; (Gentile, Hickam, Hoyt, Moore)
The SS Liberator was sailing enroute from Galveston, Texas to New York, carrying 11,000 tons of sulphur. She was traveling alone approximately 3 miles west of Diamond Shoals. She carried a 4 inch deck gun as protection against u-boats. At 1019 EWT, a torpedo struck the port side on the aft end of the engine room. The engine room was demolished and 5 crew members were killed in the explosion. The ship sank 21 minutes later. The 31 survivors were picked up by the USS UMPQUA (ATO-25) at 1125 EWT. They were taken to Morehead City, North Carolina.

The night before, on the evening of March 18th, while rounding Cape Lookout, the gun crew of the Liberator mistakenly fired 2 shots in to the bridge of the USS DICKERSON (DD-157). The Dickerson was on anti-submarine patrol and running blacked-out and steaming at nearly full speed. The friendly fire killed 3 crew of the destroyer instantly. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander J.K. Reynold was mortally wounded and died 10 minutes before the Dickerson docked safely the next morning at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. This was approximately the same time the Liberator was being torpedoed and sunk by the U-332.

The crew of the Liberator later reported that before their own sinking, they had engaged a u-boat in battle and and sunk the German submarine.

USS Dickerson as APD-21, circa 1943 (8)
USS Dickerson

Diving Depths: 100-110 ft.
Current: Like most of the wreck sites up on the Diamond Shoals, the current can be so strong as to be undiveable.
Visibility:40-60ft range and highly current dependent. The sand bottom around the Liberator has more of a mud component to it than most of the other wrecks in the area and can get easily stirred up by fins, etc.
Summer Temperature:Mid to High 70s; Can be current dependent and varies at the extremes based on warmer Gulf Stream currents and cooler northern currents.
Points of Interest: Broken into 3 major pieces, the wreck site is the bow-third of the ship. Port side anchor in hawse pipe, anchor windless and various anchor machinery and anchor locker areas are the major points of ship "structure" interest.
Fish/Animal Life: Amberjack, triggerfish, black sea bass, etc seem to dominate the fish life. I have seen a sea turtle there. The sand-mud mix on the bottom seems to be a good for flounder as well. I generally have not noticed a lot of colorful tropical fish and warmer water marine life on the wreck.
Description: The wreck site represents the forward third of ship - from just forward of the midship pilot house to the bow. It is a smallish wreck site which has 3 major pieces and several smaller debris areas on the edges. Within any kind of visability, you can easily hop back and forth each of the pieces and easily circumnavigate the wreck site in a single dive.

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