William Rockefeller, a 7157 gross ton (15,500 tons displacement) tanker, was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1916. She was one of seven large tankers acquired by the Navy in later months of 1917, some as early as August. Placed in commission as USS William Rockefeller (ID # 1581), she was integrated into the Naval Overseas Transportation Service when that organization was established on 9 January 1918. At that time, she was on a voyage from Scotland to New York, where she arrived on 12 February. After loading a cargo of oil at Philadelphia, the tanker sailed from New York in a convoy on 28 February and arrived at Sheerness, England, on 18 March. Returning to Philadelphia for another cargo of fuel oil, she sailed again from New York in a convoy on 29 April. Arriving with the convoy at Lamlash, Scotland, on 15 May, three days later she sailed for Rosyth with an escort of two destroyers. On 21 May 1918 William Rockefeller was torpedoed by the German submarine UC-58 and sank in 13 minutes. Three of her crew of 51 were lost.
This page features the only view we have concerning the American tanker William Rockefeller, which was USS William Rockefeller (ID # 1581) in 1917-1918.
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Photo #: NH 105239
S.S. William Rockefeller (American Tanker, 1916)
This tanker was completed by William Cramp & Sons at Philadelphia in December 1916. She was commissioned as USS William Rockefeller (ID # 1581) in late 1917 and was sunk by a German submarine on 21 May 1918.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 57KB; 740 x 440 pixels
Page made 11 October 2007