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New York, New York: 1941

New York, New York: 1941

December 1941. "Lower Manhattan seen from the S.S. Coamo leaving New York." View full size. 35mm negative by Jack Delano. Office of War Information.


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From Puerto Rico to New York

I arrived in New York City on the Coamo. The ship was part of the Bull Lines, or the Porto Rico Line. I was 7 years old, traveling with my mother. We sailed on the 23rd of December 1937, Cabin 320, second class. The ship stopped overnight on Ellis Island to disembark immigrants from Europe and South America. The trip was uneventful, although I was seasick. I never thought I would see a picture of the Coamo. I do know that Mr. Delano lived in P.R.

Sinking of the Coamo

SS COAMO (December 9, 1942)

US freighter of 7,057 tons, built in 1925 for the Agwilines of New York. The vessel was en route from Gibraltar to New York when it simply disappeared without trace. It was later discovered that the ship had been torpedoed by the German U-boat the U-604. The Coamo was carrying 186 persons including the crew. The entire merchant marine crew of 133 men plus 37 Armed Guards and 16 Army personnel were lost, in this, the greatest tragedy to befall a single crew on a US Merchant Marine ship in WWII.

Interesting account and pictures here.

[Fascinating. And tragic. On a related note, the Coamo rescued 71 people from the Canadian liner Lady Hawkins after it was torpedoed and sunk by a U-boat in January 1942, with the loss of some 250 lives. In our photo, the ship is departing New York for Puerto Rico (it was named after the city of Coamo there), where Jack Delano took hundreds of photographs on assignment for the Farm Security Administration. He liked the island so much that he made his home there after the war. Three of his shipboard photos are dated November 1941; December 1941 is the LOC's "published/created" date, so it's hard to say exactly when this was taken. - Dave]

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