The battle to save the SS Ohio
14th August 1942: One of the five surviving merchant ships from Operation Pedestal completes the last leg of the journey
Fourteen merchant ships had set out for Malta with Operation Pedestal on the 10th August - only five had survived the repeated German and Italian attacks.
The most important ship in the convoy was the oil tanker SS Ohio, an American ship with a British crew, defensively armed with a 5 inch and a 3 inch gun. Its cargo of 11,000 tons of aviation fuel was essential for the continuation of the fight from Malta, every effort had to be made to get her into port. She was twice abandoned during the course of the convoy - but then re-boarded. Finally still some 40 miles from Malta, with her engine room destroyed, she had to be lashed between two destroyers and supported for the last part of the journey.
Fighter cover from Malta itself meant that the air attacks were much diminished on the final day of her journey.
There were many remarkable aspects to the story but amongst them is the role played by two American sailors - Frederick August Larsen, Jr., Junior Third Officer and Francis A. Dales, Deck Cadet-Midshipman on SS Santa Elisa.
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