M.S. Bidwell
M.S. Bidwell in 1920.  From the www.fleetsheet.com collection
Baltimore Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co. (Baltimore MD) - later the Baltimore division of Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding
Bidwell: Hull# 112, for US Shipping Board,  Tanker, DWT: 10,950, Delivery: Sep-20
Monday, April 6, 1942:  Unarmed U.S. tanker Bidwell, bound from Corpus Christi, Texas, to New York City, is torpedoed by German submarine U-160 about 30 miles east of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, 3425'N, 7557'W, but manages to reach Hampton Roads under her own power. One man of her 33-man crew is lost in the torpedoing.
February 4, 1932:  Explosion of the Sun Oil tanker M.S. Bidwell at the Sinclair Dock
Marcus Hook, PA
"During the night Feb. 4,1932 at 12:30 am. the M.S. Bidwell an oil tanker belonging to the Sun Oil Company In Marcus Hook, Pa. exploded and burned at the Sinclair Dock. Seventeen men aboard were killed including the Captain, Joseph Rivers of Hollis, New York. His wife Viola Rivers aboard at the time was injured and rescued from the frigid waters of the Delaware River by Edward J. Cartain of Chester who swam to her resue. He was employed at Sinclair Refining and subsequently awarded the Carnegie medal for heroism. The Captain's Wife Viola Rivers, was treated at Chester Hospital and subsequently relocated to Chester. Several of the deceased were from Chester, others from Linwood, Pa. and Philadelphia. A little known fact is that the second mate, 33 years of age from New York, was the natural father of Veronica Lake the hollywood actress. The Bidwell survived another 31 years and was torpedoed once during WW2. After logging 2 million miles it was sold to the Greek Government. The last Master was Captain Fredrick Burgess. Two sons of the late Captain Rivers, both served on the Bidwell as merchant seamen before its demise."

- Harold Rivers (Son of Capt. Rivers)   From: OldChesterPa.com: Tragedies

Click here for 08.07 hours on 6 Apr, 1942 attack

Information on 1942 attack supplied from:

Allied Ships hit by U-boats

M.S. Bidwell 9/19/54: From Collection of Dave Boone
Shipyard:: Baltimore Dry Docks & Shipbuilding Co Location:  Baltimore, MD
Hull Number: 112
Keel Laid:   Time on Ways (M/D):  
Date Delivered: 9/1920 Time in Wet Basin (M/D):  
Total Time Bldg.:   Promised Delivery Date:  
D.W.T.:  7641 Propulsion:  10 knots
H.P.:   Speed:  
Sponsor:   Delivery Price:  
Bbls. Capacity: 75000    
Previous Owner:   Previous Name:  
Date Purchased:   Date Sold:
Subsequent Owner:   Subsequent Name:  
 Length:  430  Beam:  59
 Depth:    Class:  
     USSB 1248
On Number: 2220637    
Broke up: Hamburg on 04/17/1965

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

William Dalton
Chief Engineer on MS Bidwell

For heroism and meritorious service beyond the line of duty.

When a torpedo struck the tanker in which he served, the explosion blew through the after deck. Cargo oil was ignited, enveloping that part of the ship in flames. Deck steam lines were ruptured, and the steering gear jammed in hard left position, causing the ship to circle at full speed. In this apparently hopeless situation most of the crew abandoned ship forward and others were preparing to launch a boat from the after deck. Dalton first shut off the steam from the broken lines. This enabled him to see the efforts of the remaining crew on the after deck. He ran aft through the fire and directed them to stand by the ship. With their aid, he stopped the engines and brought the fire under control. The emergency steering gear was then connected; the crew who had abandoned ship were picked up; and the ship successfully made port.

His high courage and complete disregard of his own safety, so largely contributory to the salvage of his ship and the safety of her crew, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Merchant Marine.

For the President
Admiral Emory Scott Land

Dalton lived in Yeadon PA                                                                   from:  www.usmm.org/heroes.html


Copyright 2007 by Minor W. Kates, Jr. - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED