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Buarque

Ship Stats

Location: 36°18'0.61"N, 75°2'58.56"W (36.30017, -75.04960) Unconfirmed identity

Depth: 250 feet

Vessel Type: Freighter

Length: 390 feet Breadth: 54.2 feet

Gross Tonnage: 5,152 Cargo: 4,639 tons of general carog including castor beans, rubber, beryllium, and aluminum ores

Built: 1919, American International Ship Building Corp., Hog Island, Pa.

Hull Number: 534 Port of Registry: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Owner: Lloyd Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lloyd's Register Details: Two decks, web frames, DR geared steam turbine, fitted for oil

Former Names: Bird City (Moore and McCormack, 1928-1932); Bird City (U.S. Shipping Board, 1919-1928); and Scanpenn (Moore and McCormack, 1932-1940)

Date Lost: February 15, 1942

Sunk By: U-432 Survivors: 84 of 85 survived (1 dead)

Data Collected on Site: No data collected

Significance: Casualty of World War II's Battle of the Atlantic

Wreck Site

The site has been tentatively identified as the freighter Buarque and has been visited by several divers, but not in an official NOAA capacity. Likewise, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy were unable to definitively identify the vessel remains in the area, though they seemed to narrow the potential World War II victims to the freighters Buarque and Equipoise. However, presumably, they probably had no knowledge of tanker Mexicano's loss in the area nearly 40 years prior. Further data is required at the shipwreck site for an adequate site and environmental description.

Historical Background

Buarque was a Brazilian cargo ship built in 1919 by American International Shipbuilding Corporation in Philadelphia, Pa. for the United States Shipping Board. Originally ordered for the war effort and named Bird City, the vessel continued to work for the U.S. Shipping Board until being sold in 1932 and renamed Scanpenn. In 1940, the vessel was sold again to a Brazilian company and named Buarque. The vessel remained neutral for Brazil, and it continued to carry freight during World War II.

On February 15, 1942, Buarque was in route from Rio de Janeiro to New York carrying a general cargo when it was torpedoed by German submarine U-432 and sunk. Buarque was hit with one torpedo and the crew and 11 passengers quickly abandoned ship and made it to the lifeboats; however, one passenger, Manuel Rodrigues Gomes, died of a heart attack. A group of 47 survivors in two of the lifeboats were spotted by USAAF aircraft. They were picked up in the afternoon by USCGC Calypso (WPC-104) and returned the next morning to Norfolk, Va. On February 17, 1942, 16 survivors were picked up by USS Jacob Jones (DD-130) and 21 survivors by USS Eagle 19 (PE-19). That evening, they were all taken to Norfolk , Va.

Buarque in port
Buarque, location and date unknown. Click here for a larger image. Photo: Courtesy of The Mariners' Museum

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