Stuff You Should Know
The SS Charles Henderson was a Liberty Ship built in the United States and operated by the Mississippi Shipping Company from New Orleans under a WSA contract. It is not exactly clear whether the ship was named after the 35th Governor of Alabama or after the American minister and sociologist Charles Richmond Henderson. The ship suffered heavy damage after it collided with another ship near Cape Henlopen in Delaware and caught fire in the process. The crew suffered one casualty and 4 others were severely wounded. The SS Charles Henderson later took part in the Normandy Invasion in June 1944. Near the end of the war, the vessel delivered aircraft bombs to Bary, Italy where it suffered an accident and caused one of the largest ammunition catastrophes of World War II. The ship’s cargo ignited while it was being unloaded, resulting in 542 fatalities and 1800 injuries. The only crewman of the ship that survived was the chief engineer who was on land at the time. The shipwreck remained in Bari until 1948 when it was sold for scrap.