SS SAMUEL PARKER
For actions on July 19, 1943
Gallant Ship Award Citation:
For six months, beginning in February 1943, SS Samuel Parker was in continuous service in the Mediterranean transporting troops and material which contributed immeasurably to the successes of the North African campaign and the invasion of Sicily. Throughout this period she was subjected to numerous enemy attacks and, though badly battered, in every case she emerged victorious.
The stark courage of her gallant crew – in battle and in heroic rescues – caused her name to be perpetuated as a Gallant Ship.
A liberty ship, SS Samuel Parker was built by Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation at Portland, Oregon. Delivered on November 17, 1942, the War Shipping Administration immediately placed the vessel under a general agency agreement with American Mail Line.
When it arrived in the Mediterranean, Samuel Parker was placed under the operational control of the British Ministry of War Transport, shuttling troops and supplies between Alexandria, Egypt and Tripoli, Libya. While on these supply runs, Samuel Parker and other ships in the convoy were constantly harassed by Axis air attacks, even while in port.
On March 19, 1943, while moored in Tripoli, a crashing bomber nearly struck Samuel Parker‘s mast before slamming into SS Ocean Voyager, a British vessel berthed nearby and loaded with fuel and ammunition. As Ocean Voyager burned and other nearby vessels fled, five crewmembers from Samuel Parker used a motorboat to rescue six British merchant mariners who had jumped overboard. A short time later, the vessel exploded.
Samuel Parker also supported the Allied invasion of Sicily in July, 1943, unloading aviation gasoline and high explosives while under air attack and often within the sound of the frontline. On one occasion, the vessel was strafed with incendiary bullets, setting fire to its explosive cargo, which was only extinguished by crewmembers descending into the burning holds with fire hoses.
At the end of its mission in the Mediterranean, the U. S. Maritime Commission reported that Samuel Parker’s hull and superstructure bore more than 140 holes.
After the war, Samuel Parker was briefly chartered to Eastern Steamship Lines, but was laid up in the Wilmington, North Carolina anchorage of the National Defense Reserve Fleet on October 12, 1947. The vessel was sold to Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation in April, 1967. It was scrapped on April 7, 1969.