- USS Von Steuben during the Great War -
If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.
Add Stories & Photos
Day by Day
War in the Air
Prisoners of War
The Royal Navy
Training for War
Those Who Served
Life on Home Front
Central Powers Army
Central Powers' Navy
World War Two
Add Stories & Photos
Help & FAQ's
Our Facebook Page
Great War Books
Research your Family History.
World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
USS Von Steuben
18th June 1918 Uboat sinks SS Dwinsk
SS Dwinsk lifeboat rescue by USS Siboney
SS Dwinsk was a British-flagged ocean liner sunk by U-151 in World War I. The ship was previously the third Rotterdam for the Holland America Line, C.F. Tietgen for the Scandinavian America Line, and, as Dwinsk, for the Russian American Line. The ship was put under Cunard Line management in 1917, and sailed under the British flag until sunk on 18 June 1918. SS Rotterdam was launched 18 February 1897 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast for the Holland America Line, the third ship by that name for the line. She sailed from Rotterdam, her namesake city, to Boulogne and New York on her maiden voyage 18 August 1897. The ship began its final voyage on this route on 17 February 1906.
Purchased by the Scandinavian America Line on 5 April 1906, the ship was renamed C.F. Tietgen after Carl Frederik Tietgen, a Danish merchant. The ship operated primarily on a Copenhagen-Kristiania-Kristiansand-New York route through 1913. On 28 June 1906 the Tietgen collided with and sank the schooner E. G. Hay without loss of life. In July 1913 the ship was chartered to Nordisk Film A/S for the filming of Atlantis. Later in 1913, the ship was sold to the Russian American Line and renamed Dwinsk, and operating between Libau and New York from 10 February 1914. On 20 September 1914, Dwinsk began sailing on an Archangel-Hammerfest-New York route.
In 1917, control of the ship passed to Cunard Line who reflagged her under the British flag, and retaining her existing name. On 18 June 1918, under the command of Captain Henry Nelson, while steaming from France to Newport News, Virginia, Dwinsk was torpedoed by U-151 about 400 miles (640 km) from Bermuda. After the ship sank, U-151 remained in the area, using the survivors in seven lifeboats as a lure to try to sink additional Allied ships.
Later the same day, USS Von Steuben spotted wreckage and the seven lifeboats, and as it approached the survivors, narrowly averted a torpedo strike launched by U-151. Under orders from the Captain, the men lay down in the boats to try to avoid attracting rescue ships as the submarine was waiting in the area, so the crew of the Von Steuben were unaware that the boats held survivors and made off after its narrow escape from a similar fate.
Six of the lifeboats were rescued by other ships; the seventh lifeboat, in the charge of the Second Officer, Joseph William Coppin (born 1881, St Neot, Cornwall), with 22 men aboard was never heard from again. USS Siboney rescued two boats on 21 June, and USS Rondo picked up the final boat on 28 June 1918.
Captain Henry Nelson - In a letter on the report of the sinking of Dwinsk. from the British Admiralty to The Cunard SS Co Ltd,it stated. At 0920 on that date the wake of a torpedo was sighted at a distance of 200 yards, on the Port Quarter. The ship was not zig-zagging at the time and was steaming at 13 knots. The weather was fine and smooth with a slight swell, wind S.E. 3, visibility good. When the torpedo was sighted helm was put over hard aport, but the torpedo struck the ship in No 4 hold making a large hole. The ship listed to port and the Master decided to abandon ship, which was done in 7 boats. The submarine then came to the surface and attacked her by gunfire, one round hit the magazine which exploded. The ship sank at about 111. The submarine interrogated the 2nd Officer's boat, but no prisoners were taken. The 2nd Officers boat containing 22 of the crew is missing (was never found), and one man was drowned out of the Chief Officers boat. The remaining boats were picked up by various ships and landed at New York , Bermuda, Newport News and Nova Scotia. The 1st Officer's boat was adrift for 10 days and a boat in charge of Boatswain's Mate Larbalastier for 8 days, before being picked up and it is considered that the lives of those in these two boats were saved by the good seamanship, management and fortitude displayed by Mr Pritchard and Larbalestier. I am to inform you that First Officer Pritchand and Boatswain's Mate Larbalestier will be "commended" in the London Gazette, in recognition of these services. Signed J.W.S. AndersonNews media
18th June 1918 Naval Action - 18th June 1918 The Action of 18 June 1918 was an attack on two allied ships near Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean by an Imperial German Navy u-boat during World War I. Sinking an allied merchant vessel, the U-boat failed to destroy an American warship which came to the merchantman's aid.
The SS Dwinsk was a British flagged merchant ship known for her involvement in the War at Sea. On 18 June 1918, while steaming in the Atlantic from France to Newport News, Virginia, Dwinsk encountered the German submarine U-151 around 400 miles from Bermuda. The submarine surfaced and fired a torpedo into the helpless British steamer which caused severe damage. No distress call is known to have been sent by Dwinsk. The deaths of 22 or more British sailors have been confirmed, others were reported to have minor injuries. The dead either went down with Dwinsk when she sank or were in a lifeboat that went missing after their vessel went down. U-151's action was not over though, instead of fleeing after sinking the Dwinsk, she waited in the vicinity for any allied vessels coming to aid the British lifeboats. The lifeboats did not attempt to abandon the wreckage of their transport. The German U-boat remained for a few hours, using the stranded Britons as bait. USS Von Steuben, which just happened to be returning to America from Brest, France—sighted the wreckage of Dwinsk from over five miles away. What the Americans saw were seven lifeboats that appeared to be empty. The boats appeared to be empty due to the actions of the captain of Dwinsk. He had ordered the crew to lie down to prevent allied vessels from approaching and being attacked by the Germans. Von Steuben made her approach anyway and began zig-zagging as a measure against torpedo attack. Sure enough, as Von Steuben closed with the British lifeboats, the wake of one or two torpedoes were spotted coming towards the ship off her bow from abaft the port beam. Quickly the American commander was informed of the situation and ordered his crew to battle stations. Von Steuben fired her first shells in anger at the incoming torpedo, while another turret fired on U-151's periscope which was seen at the other end of the torpedo's trail. The shots fired at the torpedo apparently missed their target but Von Steuben was able to maneuver fast enough to keep out of the torpedo's path which missed by just a few yards. Once over the U-boat's last known position, the Americans dropped over 12 depth charges which shook the submarine severely, according to German accounts, and forced her to flee.
Von Steuben's crew did not rescue any of the Britons that night. It was not until later that the Americans learned that the survivors were lying down in their boats. The American commander did not want to risk his ship by slowing down to investigate the lifeboats. If Von Steuben had stopped to check the lifeboats, she would have been exposed to a torpedo attack. Six of the seven lifeboats were rescued by other allied ships. The seventh boat with about 20 men aboard was never heard from again. USS Siboney rescued two boats on 21 June and USS Rondo picked up the final boat on 28 June. This engagement was Von Steuben's only combat action during World War I.John Doran
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Want to know more about USS Von Steuben?There are:3 articles tagged USS Von Steuben available in our LibraryThese include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.
Those known to have served in
USS Von Steuben
during the Great War 1914-1918.
This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
Looking for help with Family History Research?
Please see Family History FAQ's
We are unable to provide individual research free of charge, but do offer a paid service at competitive rates, the small profit from these services will be put towards the costs of keeping this website running. For more information please see our Research Services Leaflet
Can you help?The Wartime Memories Project is run by volunteers and this website is funded by donations from our visitors.
If the information here has been helpful or you have enjoyed reaching the stories please conside making a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web. In these difficult times current donations are falling far short of this target.
If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.
- The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website
This website has been running for 16 years and receives in excess of a million hits per month. The website and our group will continue long after the 2014-18 events are over. We hope that people will continue to support us by submitting material and stories in addition to submitting to the new websites set up for the anniversary.
- We are looking for volunteers to help with researching the activities of units of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force, Regular Army, Pals Battalions, Kitchener's New Armies, Voluntary Organisations and the Ships of the Royal Navy. We currently have a huge backlog of stories and historical documents which need to be edited or transcribed for display online, if you have a good standard of written English, an interest in the two World Wars and a little time to spare online we would appreciate your help. For more information please see our page on Volunteering.
Wanted: Digital copies of Group photographs, Scrapbooks, Autograph books, photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards and ephemera relating to the Great War. If you have any unwanted photographs, documents or items from the First or Second World War, please do not destroy them. The Wartime Memories Project will give them a good home and ensure that they are used for educational purposes. Please get in touch for the postal address, do not sent them to our PO Box as packages are not accepted.
We are now on Facebook. Like this page to receive our updates, add a comment or ask a question.
If you have a general question please post it on our Facebook page.
May 2017World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 231539 your submission is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.
Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.
Want to know more about USS Von Steuben?There are:3 articles tagged USS Von Steuben available in our Library
Available at discounted prices.
Items from the Home Front Archive
Do you have any photos, postcards, documents or memorabilia relating to this unit? Please add to this archive.
Suggest a link
The Wartime Memories Project is a non profit organisation run by volunteers.
This website is paid for out of our own pockets, library subscriptions and from donations made by visitors. The popularity of the site means that it is far exceeding available resources.
If you are enjoying the site, please consider making a donation, however small to help with the costs of keeping the site running.
Website © Copyright MCMXCIX - MMXVII
- All Rights Reserved