The Museum recently received the donation of a Ritchie “underlit” compass from a vessel that has a rather unique story associated with it. The vessel, the steam tanker Esso Nashville, was built for the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey by the Bethlehem Steel Company at its Sparrows Point, Maryland shipyard. After its launch on June 15, 1940, the Esso Nashville had a fairly standard career transporting barrels of fuel oil to ports in the United States, Great Britain, Europe and the Mediterranean.
Considering the ship was transporting cargo throughout the Atlantic during World War II, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vessel became the victim of a U-boat attack. It’s the story of what happened after the attack, both in the hours and months following, that I found really amazing.