The sinking of the "Liberty" type ship Robert Rowan
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The sinking of the "Liberty" type ship Robert Rowan

The sinking of the "Liberty" type ship Robert Rowan, hit on 11 July by a German bomber in front of Gela.

During the Allied invasion of Sicily the Liberty ship Robert Rowan (K-40) exploded after being hit by a German Ju 88 bomber off the coast of Gela, Sicily (Italy) on 11 July 1943. Robert Rowan was built at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina (USA). She was laid down on March 3, 1943, launched on April 6, and delivered to the Isthmain Steamship Company on April 13. Her maiden voyage began on May 14, 1943 in Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA) to Oran (Algeria) as part of the UGS-8A convoy. She was sent to Gela, Sicily (Italy) to support the invasion of Sicily (“Operation Husky”). She arrived in Gela on 11 July 1943 with a load of ammunition and 334 soldiers of the 18th Infantry. She also carried 14 United States Navy personnel, 32 United States Navy armed guards, and 41 crew members. Shortly before 14:00 the German bombers Junkers Ju 88 appeared overhead and attacked the ships in the bay. During the attack the Rowan was hit by three 500 kg bombs. One bomb passed through the ship, but the other two exploded in the holds. Due to the nature of her cargo, the ship was abandoned with no attempt to put out the fire. All 421 men on board safely evacuated the ship and were picked up by PT boats and transferred to nearby destroyers. Within twenty minutes the fire hit her ammunition with a tremendous explosion that tore the ship in half. The burning ship stopped on a flat keel and burned for two days. The destroyer USS McLanahan (DD-615) tried to sink the ship because fires lit the area overnight, but this failed because the water was too shallow. The carcass remained in the waters off Gela until 1948 when it was sold and scrapped

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Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: By photographer: Lt. Longini, US Army Signal Corps - This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. It is therefore requested a normal copyright tag. See Commons: Licenses for more information., Public domain,

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