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The Allan Jackson:  First North Carolina Coastal Casualty in 1942 WWII U-boat Campaign

18 Jan. 1942

By Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library, 2014

Image of the <i>Allan Jackson</i>, from the Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart. Presented on  On January 18, 1942, the American tanker Allan Jackson was sunk by a German submarine off Diamond Shoals. Returning from Cartagena with 72,000 barrels of crude, she was struck twice by torpedo around 1:30 a.m. then split in two, sinking in 10,000 feet of water 70 miles off the coast.  With boat and sea burning, of the 8 officers and 27 crew, only 3 officers and 10 crew survived.  The ship has never been located.

Built in 1921 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. in Alameda, California, the owners, the Pan-American Petroleum & Transport Company, christened the boat the Crampton Anderson SS.  The name was changed to the Allan Jackson SS in 1931, and the boat was sold to the Standard Oil Company in 1935.

The Allan Jackson tragedy marked a turn in the war when more than 70 boats were sunk by German U-boats off the North Carolina coast.  The majority were sunk during the first half of 1942, earning the area the name “Torpedo Alley” or “Torpedo Junction.”  Until then the United States had underestimated the risk to North America.

In 2013, NOAA published a risk assessment of the environmental threat from the oil presumably still in the ship’s hull.


“Allen [Allan] Jackson MV (+1942).”  List of Casualties – American. The Wreck Site. (accessed December 12, 2014).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Office of Response and Restoration.  2013.  Screening Level Risk Assessment Package: Allan Jackson. (accessed December 12, 2014).

Addtional Resources:

"U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged on Eastcoast of U.S, and Gulf of Mexico During World War II Eastcoast of U.S."  U.S. Merchant Marine. (accessed December 14, 2014).

Graff, Michael.  "War in the Water."  History. Our State (accessed December 14, 2014).

"Allan Jackson." (accessed December 14, 2014).

Duffus, Kevin. "Germans Attack Off of North Carolina's Outer Banks." (accessed May 31, 2023)


Image Credits:

"Allan Jackson." Photograph. [n.d.]. Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart. Presented by (accessed December 14, 2014).