USS Susan B Anthony (AP-72)

American troopship lost to dual underwater mines off Normandy on June 6, 1944.
by Matthew Anderson


Year Built

1930

Year Sank

1944

Depth

98 ft (30 m)

Difficulty Level

Technical


USS Susan B Anthony (AP-72)

Wreck Location

The USS Susan B Anthony lies off the coast of Normandy in France. She lies in 30 meters of water on her starboard side east of Cherbourg and North of Bayeux. The wreck has been mostly destroyed by not only the two mine collisions, but by the strong current of the English Channel, rust and time. The superstructure and hull have mostly collapsed and flattened. The wreck is mostly intact at the bow. A gun on the bow still hangs in position. Divers Richie Kohler and John Chatterton referred to the feature as "Bob's Gun" after the survivor who was in charge of the large defensive weapon.

~ GPS Shipwreck Location ~
Latitude:   49° 29' 24" N      Longitude:   0° 42' 47.9988" W

Description

USS Susan B Anthony

The SS Santa Clara was built in March 1930 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden New Jersey for the Grace Steamship Company (Grace Line), a subsidiary of W.R. Grace and Company in New York City. She was a turbine electric vessel using similar prinicples to a motorship, but the electric motors, rather than being connected to large internal combustion diesel engines, were connected to steam turbine generators fed by six boilers. In original configuration, Santa Clara had two funnels, twin masts, six kingpoles and eight lifeboats. The forward funnel was a dummy and her profile was completed with a modest superstructure. She was a passenger/cargo liner that operated between the east coast of the United States to South America. On one voyage in 1941, she carried Walt Disney back to the United States from Valparaiso, Chile.

In 1942, Santa Clara was drafted by the Wartime Shipping Administration with Grace Line continuing to manage and provide her crew. She was used as a troopship in the South Pacific operating out of San Francisco carrying Army troops and personnel. In August 1942, she was sub-leased by the Wartime Shipping Administration to the United States Navy. She was converted by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in New York to become a full U.S. Navy troopship. Her forward funnel was cut off, gunnery platforms were added across the ship, heavier duty lifeboats were added, Carley Floats were attached, a radio mast was added where the forward dummy funnel once stood and was renamed the USS Susan B. Anthony (AP-72) in honor of Susan B. Anthony, an American women suffragette who had fought for women to have the right to vote nationwide. Given the Susan B. Anthony was still owned by W.R. Grace and Company, it's likely Grace intended to rebuild her back into the Santa Clara at war's end.

In October 1942, Susan B. Anthony carried thousands of American troops from Norfolk, Virginia to Morrocco during the allied invasion of Africa, the first US participating offensive against Nazi Germany. As the campaign advanced eastward towards British Egypt, she later carried troops to Algeria.

Footnotes

The USS Susan B Anthony was featured on an episode of the History Channel show Deep Sea Detectives titled "D-Day Troops: Lost at Sea". Professional divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler explored the wreck, interviewed survivors and told the story of the Susan B Anthony's loss. The CGI by modern standards is archaic and used a poorly modified 3D model of the RMS Titanic in place of the Susan B Anthony. Both Chatterton and Kohler's findings on the wreck itself confirmed the theory that Susan B Anthony had sunk due to two underwater mines.

Note that this is an article still under construction. More info and detail is in the works.



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3 Comments & Ratings

anonymous by delmar hawkins on 5/3/2019

my father was on this ship when it was sunk he has been talking about there was 3500 men aboard and part

of the men went across the Pinto to a landing craft and was took to the beach and had to wade in to battle

anonymous by Jason on 6/8/2019

My grandfather was on this ship when it struck the mine and sank. He told me the story nearly every time I visited. From which port did she leave on this final voyage?

anonymous by William Delaney 5 days ago

My father, CWO Thomas J. Delaney, was deck officer aboard the USS Pinto, the 205 ft, fleet tug boat which tied to the Anthony and participated in the rescue operation. He never mentioned it to us and I learned about it years after his death (lost st sea in civilian life) when I read the Unit Citation letter which was in his service jacket.

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