SHIP NOTES: (Sources: 35, Gentile)
Name: HMT Senateur Duhamel Type: converted fishing trawler
Built: 1927, Hall, Russell & Co.
Aberdeen, Scotland
Owner: UK Royal Navy on loan to the US Navy
Home Port: Morehead City, NC
Size (LxWxD in ft.): 192.3 x 31.1 x 16.1 Tonnage: 912 gross tons
Propulsion: Coal-fired triple expansion steam
149 nhp/12 kts
Armament: Depth charges; 4" gun; machine gun
Date Sunk:5/6/42 Cause:collision USS Semmes (DD-189)
Location: Cape Lookout, NC GPS: N34° 33.056'/W76° 36.076'

As a fishing trawler: HMT Senateur Duhamel (Aberdeen Maritime Museum via 35)
The Senateur Duhamel was built to be used as a fishing trawler. It served that purpose under a French company until it was seized by the British Navy in 1938. The British Navy purchased the ship, converted it for military purposes and designated it HMT Senateur Duhamel As a military vessel, it was originally used as an escort and for anti-submarine patrols. Its original operation area was off Belfast, Northern Ireland.

After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, the USA entered the war but was sorely lacking escort and anti-submarine vessels to protect the valuable east coast shipping lanes from German u-boats. The British transferred the Senateur Duhamel (1942) and 23 other vessels to US waters to serve under the direction of the US Navy. The Senateur Duhamel shared the same patrol area as the HMT Bedfordshire: Cape Lookout, NC to Norfolk, Virginia escorting convoys and merchant vessels around the dangerous u-boat hot zone, the Diamond Shoals, off of Cape Hatteras. Its home port for supplies and refueling was Morehead City, NC.

In May, 1942, the Senateur Duhamel was on patrol and spotted another ship in the fog. Unknown to the Senateur Duhamel, it was the destroyer USS Semmes (D-189) returning to Morehead City after handing off its convoy members to the next set of escorts. It was not aware of the Senateur Duhamel and its lookout and deck officers were blinded by the bright signaling lights from the Duhamel inquiring as to "What Ship?" The destroyer attempted to turn away but the quickly closing bow of the Semmes struck the Senateur Duhamel, riding up on the trawlers forecastle. The ships signaled for help. The USS Semmes was severely damaged. The ships were pulled apart and it was later determined the Semmes was not in danger of sinking. The HMT Senateur Duhamel drifted away in the night and a search was made for the Senateur Duhamel. It was reported slowly sinking on its keel landing on the bottom at 55 ft with its mast still sticking above the water. There were no fatalities on either ship in the incident.

The remains of the Senateur Duhamel was untouched until June 8, 1943, when the British tanker Norman Star stranded itself on top of the sunken trawler. Now a recognized hazard to navigation, the trawler was demolished in 1944 by the salvage ship Vigilant WPC-154 which dropped several tons of dynamite to level any vertical structure of the Duhamel wreck site to safe heights.
USS Semmes D-189 circa 1945 (8)
Active class vessel similar to the Vigilant WPC-154 (wikipedia)

Diving Depths: 55 ft.
Current: none to slight when i have been on it, but its location near Cape Lookout shoals may make subject to currents
Visibility: 5-30 ft.
Summer Temperature: high 70s to low 80s in summer
Points of Interest: 2 boilers, remains of the shaft alley, interesting structures aft of the boilers, gun mount for 4" gun
Fish/Animal Life: flounder, stingrays, almaco jacks; black sea bass; baitfish, general inshore marine life, shells.
Description: The HMT Senateur Duhamel is lying on its keel and pretty much contiguous. The wreck site has a reputation for low viz and an easily stirred up mud/silt bottom. The wreck site is small and can easily be circumnavigated several times during a single dive -- if you can see well enough to navigate. The ship sides fell outward so the wreck is relatively wide, which can make it confusing in low viz. The tallest structure are the two boilers. The engine is totally gone or at least rendered unrecognizable by the wrecks demolition in 1944. This is a dive for slow, relaxed, close inspection need to rush and keeping well above the easily stirred up bottom. Lots of artifact looking wreckage to poke around

shaft alley leading towards the boilers
concrete slabs line the bottom just aft of the shaft alley remains
The 2 boilers provide the highest relief on the wreck
Diver exploring the debris along the remains of the shaft alley
Close up on the boiler tubes - convenient homes for all sorts of marine critters
The bow section ladder exposed
The end of a depth charge protruding from the wreck
A relative large bulkhead "break" midway between the boilers (to the upper left) and the stern (to the lower right).

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

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