SHIP NOTES: (Sources: Jordan, Moore, Gentile)
previous name: Silvanus (1927)
Type: Tanker
Built: 1921 by Southwestern Shipbuilding Company, San Pedro, CA Owner: Petroleum Navigation Company, Houston TX
Home Port: Houston, TX
Size (ft.): 412-0 x 53-4 x 25-8 Gross Tonnage: 5939 tons
Propulsion: Single screw reciprocating steam engine/speed 10 knts
Date Sunk: torpedoed 3/18 and sunk 3/19/1942 Cause: Torpedoed by U-124
Location Cape Lookout, NC GPS: N34° 08.633'/W76° 39.154'

Papoose (Moore)
SHIP HISTORY: (Sources: Moore, Hickam, Gentile)
July 2006: The latest saga of the wreck "identity" investigation presents a scenario which blows-up a number of decades-old wreck locations and identifications. The hypothesis of this chapter is that the W.E. Hutton site is really that of the Ario. And the site of this wreck, which was previously thought to be the Papoose is that of the W.E. Hutton. So where is the wreck site of the Papoose? In this hypothesis, it is the wreck site previously thought to be that of the San Delfino, well north of Hatteras over 50 miles a way. And the San Delfino? It is the located at the site locally thought to be the Mirlo, another large tanker sunk by the U-117 during World War I. The new location of the Mirlo is yet to be identified.
W.E. Hutton
453-0" x 56-0" x 27-3" — Sunk: 3/18/1942
Papoose — 412-0" x 53-4" x 25-8" — Sunk: 3/19/1942
Ario453-0" x 56-2" x 27-1" — Sunk 3/15/1942
San Delfino —  463-0" x 61-0" x 33-0" — Sunk: 4/9/1942
Mirlo — 425-0" x 57-0" x 33-0" — Sunk: 8/16/1918
Only the recovery of a definitive, identifying artifact and further investigation will prove how much of this hypothesis holds up, but it seems pretty solid that the Papoose is really the W.E. Hutton and the description of the diving and wreck site photos below are from the W.E.Hutton wreck site. The ship history and historic photos contained on this page are for the Papoose.

The night of March 18, 1942 was not the first time that the tanker Papoose was involved in death and destruction. Sixteen years earlier, as a Dutch tanker, under the name Silvanus, she was traveling the Mississippi River when she rammed the tanker Thomas H. Wheeler. The collision and resulting fire killed 26 men. The Silvanus was declared a total loss and the hull was auctioned off to the highest bidder. She was purchased by the Petroleum Navigation Corporation and towed to Beaumont, TX where she was completely rebuilt and overhauled. On 3/31/1927, she was re-launched as the Papoose and spent the next 15 years carrying petroleum products from Texas to the east coast of the United States.

Tanker Thomas H. Wheeler was rammed by the Silvanus in 1926 (30)

On the night of March 18, 1942, the Papoose was traveling southward, alone and unarmed, as she rounded Cape Lookout. Captain Roger Zalnick was following the recommendations from US Naval Routing Center and traveling as close to shore as possible. He wasn't on a zig-zag course as he wanted to pass thru "torpedo junction" as quickly as possible, but he was traveling blacked-out. The Papoose was enroute from Providence, RI to Port Arthur, TX, traveling "in ballast" (empty), to pick up a load of fuel oil.
The first torpedo struck at 2135 on the port side of the ship at stern end below the poop deck. The explosion pentrated the fuel tanks and ruptured the engine room bulkheads. Two crew members were killed in the explosion. Engines stopped and water rose to the cylinder heads in aproximately 4 minutes. The Papoose slowly glided to a stop as the Captain ordered lifeboats lowered. The crew were #1 and #3 lifeboats for only a few minutes when the phosphorescent stream of a second torpoedo passed near the lifeboats and hit the drifting tanker on the starboard side aft of the miships. It tore open a large hole at the water line and the tanker started to settle down at the stern, rolling to the starboard side.
The captain ordered the lifeboats to start rowing towards land and the burning torch of the tanker W.E. Hutton, also a victim of the U-124, sinking on the horizon. At 0730 on the 19th, the survivors of the Papoose were picked up by the destroyer USS Stringham (DD-83/APD-6) and taken to Norfolk, VA.

APD-6 USS Stringham picked up Papoose survivors (8)

Diving Depths: 90-120 ft.
Generally very good; range 50 to 100+ ft.
Slight to strong
Summer Temperature:
high 70s to lo 80s
Points of Interest:
Large rudder, bow anchors.
Fish/Animal Life: The usual array of offshore NC marine life and has been a fairly consistent source of large groups/schools of sand tiger sharks. In addition to the sharks, over the years, I have spotted manta rays, jewfish and other unusual sightings here.
The Papoose is a large wreck which sits on the bottom intact and virtually upside down. At one time, back in the 1960's, the wreck was sitting on its port side, but over the years the wreck has rolled, crushing the superstructure under the weight of the hull. Today it resembles a large water melon, cracked open in several places. The highest part of the wreck is in the stern rudder area which rises some 30 feet off of the bottom. In 2014, the rudder blade broke away from the stern and fell into the sand. It is quickly being buried by the shifting sands with only about 1/3 remaining visible as of 2016. The propellor was present until the mid-1970s when it was blasted off by salvagers. The hull section steps down from there in several large sections, each lower than the other, until you come to the bow. The bow point is laying in the sand with anchors still in the hawse pipes. The Papoose can be penetrated at several points. In the past it was quite eerie to see boilers and engines parts suspended above you, but when you look down, you see several of those same items laying crushed on the ocean floor. I believe these have all now fallen to the ocean bottom. [Diver beware!] The sharks seem to congregate at the ends of the wreck - particularly the bow - where the prevailing current, which sweeps across and over the top of the hull, creates eddy points.

Video tour around the wreck (2013)- from stern to bow and back
The bow and one of the bow anchors
The stern - before and after the rudder broke free
Sandtiger shark swims in front of the bow anchor
Breaks in the upside down hull
The rudder, propeller shaft at stern
Remains of the bow
Diver swims along upside down hull
The featureless surface of the hull botton
Part of the deck/superstructure
crushed under the upside hull

Unless specifically noted, all photos, text and content Copyright © 2016 by Paul M. Hudy

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