Wreck of a Liberty Ship

In 1968, while I was living in Vung Tau, Vietnam, Greek owned SS Ioannis K, went aground not far from the area known as Back Beach. The old ship was abandoned by its crew and likely scavenged by the locals. I heard about this and went out to take a look. 

As some ignorant kleptocretin had had stolen my SLR camera out of my car in Saigon, I was using a cheap plastic Polaroid instead. This is the scanned photo, scratched, cropped a bit and with somewhat faded colors. 

It seems that this vessel was originally SS Samsoaring, a Liberty hull (EC2-S-C1), built near Baltimore, Maryland by Bethlehem Steel in May 1944 for the British merchant marine, under the Lend-Lease program. Liberties were built with three cylinder reciprocating steam engines, archaic at the time of construction, but cheap and readily repaired from standard parts.

 SS Samsoaring was ill fated. Following its launching, while being fitted out in the shipyard, an explosion in the engine room damaged the port side of the hull, killing one and injuring 14 others.

Then, in 1945 the ship scraped the bottom of a channel off the east coast of England. Considerable damage was done to the bottom, sides and deck. It was necessary to cut the ship in half to replace the damaged plates. Repairs were not completed until after the war ended. 

The UK flagged ship sailed as SS Samsoaring until 1947. It later was renamed several times and reflagged, registered in Panama and then Greece.

SS Samsoaring lists to port after explosion in engine room while being fitted out in Baltimore shipyard

Liberty Ship SS Samsoaring listed in Lloyd's Register

The internet is amazing. There is  a website that catalogs shipwrecks! According to them on January 3, 1968 Ioannis K struck a small island offshore while steaming from Singapore to Saigon in ballast. Vung Tau was, and still is, the pilot station for the Saigon River. 

The old ship went adrift, ran aground and the crew abandoned it while the captain committed suicide by slashing his wrists! So, that's what this web site reports if you want to believe it. They show another photo and a map. Have a look here. 

That web site misidentifies the original name as SS Richard Montgomery, which also met an unfortunate fate, sinking in the Thames estuary in 1944. 

Another web source indicates that Ioanis K. lost steering and was run aground intentionally

There are several photos of the beached Ioannis K. on Flickr. One can be found here.