Stuff You Should Know
The SS James B. Stephens was an American Liberty Ship in the service of the US Navy during World War II. The ship was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in Portland, and it was named after the founder of East Portland. During its short service time, the ship transported goods for the Allies from Port Said to the US. In early 1943 the ship was spotted and torpedoed twice by a German submarine near Suez. The damage sustained was irreparable and the crew had to abandon the ship in 3 lifeboats and 3 rafts. Out of all 63 crewmen, officers, and US Navy Guards, 62 were rescued within the next 6 days after the attack. One of the armed guards lost his life after being thrown into the water from the lifeboat by the explosion when the second torpedo hit the ship – the ship crew had already abandoned the ship at that point. The armed guard was not wearing a life jacket and could not swim – he drowned before he could be rescued.