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SS Benjamin Contee

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Gift of Earl and Elaine Buras, 1999.060.015

The Liberty ship, SS Benjamin Contee was launched seventy years ago today on 15 June 1942 by Delta Shipbuilding Co. in New Orleans. 

On 16 August 1943, while transporting 1800 Italian POWs to Oran, she was hit by an aircraft torpedo off of the North African coast. Although 250 Italian POWs were lost in trying to abandon ship in the panic of the attack, the Benjamin Contee sailed to Gibralter for repairs under her own power. She returned to New York and then back to Southhampton to ready for her final mission. Shortly following D-Day, almost two years following her launch, the Benjamin Contee joined nine other ships who were scuttled to form “Gooseberry 1,” part of the Mulberry Harbour off of Utah Beach. The Mulberry Harbour was a type of British temporary harbour created to be able to offload cargo to supply the Allied advance in the initial days after the Normandy invasion. The scuttled ships were to form sheltered waters.  Most of the scuttled ships, the Benjamin Contee included, were completely abandoned following destruction in severe storms on 19-22 June 1944.

Post by Curator/Content Specialist Kimberly Guise.

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