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West Ekonk


(Freighter: dp. 12,225; l. 423'9"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'2¼" (mean); s. 11.5 k.; cpl. 107; a. 1 5", 1 3")


West Ekonk—a steel-hulled, single-screw cargo vessel built under a United States Shipping Board contract at Seattle, Wash., by the Skinner and Eddy Corp.—was launched on 22 June 1918; was taken over by the Navy on 13 July 1918 for use by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) ; assigned Id. No. 3313; and commissioned at Seattle on the same day, Lt. Richard Willowden, USNRF, in command.


West Ekonk sailed for Port Costa on 24 July with a cargo of flour—en route, via the Panama Canal, to the east coast. The cargo ship reached New York on 27 August and soon joined an east-bound convoy for France. Departing New York on 5 September, she arrived at Brest on 19 September, discharged her cargo, and headed home on the 30th. The ship subsequently conducted two cargo-carrying voyages for NOTS to Genoa, Italy, with goods consigned to the Italian government. While en route to the Mediterranean on the first of these two voyages, West Ekonk was at sea when the armistice, ending hostilities in World War I, was signed on 11 November. Returning to New York from the second voyage on 3 April 1919, West Ekonk was decommissioned on 9 April 1919.


Returned to the Shipping Board the same day, the freighter was subsequently sold to the Lykes Brothers and Ripley Steamship Co., Inc., and homeported at Houston, Tex. Acquired by the British government and renamed Empire Wildebeeste, the freighter was torpedoed and sunk by U-106 in the North Atlantic at 39°30'N/59°54'W on 24 January 1942. Lang (DD-399) —dispatched from Bermuda—subsequently rescued 34 survivors from the sunken freighter.