SS Port Hunter

Cargo Liner
Built by Workman, Clarke & Co.
Completed: 1922
Length: 500 ft 6 in
Beam: 60 ft 4 in
Service speed: 14 knots
8,437 tons gross

The fourth vessel to bear that name.

Nationality: British

Port Hunter
Personal collection. Click for a larger image

At 0900 GMT on July 11, 1942 the SS Port Hunter (83), carrying general cargo including ammunition and depth charges, was ordered to detach from the convoy and to proceed ahead independently to Durban for refuelling before continuing to Aukland, New Zealand. At about 2345 she was attacked and sunk by U-582. The torpedo struck the No.2 hatch port side causing the ammunition and depth charges in the lower hold to blow up. The vessel listed heavily to port and sank within two minutes leaving burning fuel oil and debris on the surface.  A total of seventy-one crew members (at least seven of whom were New Zealanders), thirteen gunners and five passengers (two of whom were women) were lost which was the greatest loss of life from any single ship of the Port Line.  There were only three survivors who had been sleeping in upper-deck aft cabins; D. J. McLennan (Carpenter) and G. Fairbrother (Refrigerating Greaser) were found with part of a motor launch that was still afloat and J. Patterson (Storekeeper) was found clinging to a plank amid an oil patch. This was the fourth time that Fairbrother had survived a torpedo attack. All three survivors were rescued by HMS Rother when the convoy reached their position at about 0630 the next day having been sighted by SS City of Windsor(94) . All that remained was a patch of oil and the debris to which the men were clinging. Her Master, Captain J. B. Bradley, had been in command of the Port Dennison when she was lost in 1940.

U-582 reported the position as  grid reference DG 6397 (31N, 24W).