Sun Ship Hull Fact Sheet
Sun Ship Hull No:190
Original Name: 'Ohio'
Hull Data
Owner:  Texas Company of Delaware
Keel Laid:         09/07/1939
Launch Date:    04/22/1940
Delivery Date:    06/22/1940
L-B-D:    485'-68'-36'
D.W.T.:  14,140
Type:     Tanker
HP:         9 ,900-Shaft Horsepower [1]
Speed/Knots:    16
Main Engine:     Westinghouse Geared Steam Turbine [1]
Boiler(s):      2 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, Job No. 1449; 450 psi working pressure, 745 degree total steam temp,
with superheaters and economizers. [1]
Propeller:    1       
Disposition:The 2 halves of the ship were towed 10 miles off Malta and sunk by gunfire and/or scuttling charges
     1946.09.19 (See 'Operation Pedestal' below.)
Renames:    None   
Note 1:    If anyone has any additions or corrections to this page, please contact us via the email address on the site's home page.

Note 2:    Our grateful appreciation for those who have permitted the Sun Ship Historical Society to use their archives. Use of pictures on the page cannot
      be used without the express permission of the owner as indicated
Sun Ship was awarded a contract by the Texas Company of New York for the construction of a 14,140 DWT tanker, carrying 170,000 barrels of oil, with a single screw-steam turbine propulsion system. The tanker was to cost approximately $2,500,000. The contract was let on May 12, 1939 for a delivery on Sept. 1, 1940, with an actual delivery on June 22, 1940. The Westinghouse turbine engines developed 9,000 driveshaft horsepower at ninety revolutions per minute, which allowed a maximum sixteen knots, a speed never attained before by any modern tanker of her era. She attained a speed of 19 knots during sea trails.
.The existence of the 'Ohio' would, in its initial years, be uneventful and ordinary, plying between Port Arthur and various other American harbors. She set a speed record from Bayonne to Port Arthur, covering 1,882 miles in four days and twelve hours, an average of more than seventeen knots.[5]
The ship was launched one day late, prompting superstitious fear in the craftsmen who had assembled to watch her launch. Hull 190 was christened in a ceremony presided over by the mother of the President of the Texas Oil Company, Mrs. Florence E. Rodgers who, grasping the ceremonial bottle of champagne in her hand pronounced the words:
I name this good ship Ohio. May God go with her and all who sail in her. Good luck…[4]
The 'Ohio' slid down No. 2 shipway, entering the waters of the Delaware River, on April 22, 1940.
255_1411_2_037a (Courtesy of Powerships)
190_74319375a (Courtesy of Hagley Museum & Library)
From the launch platform: Contacting crew on board prior to launching of Hull 190.
Tugs alongside of the 'Ohio', bringing her to the outfitting piers.after launching.
Contract and Construction
Operation Pedestal
a Thumbnail View
   Click here for a .pdf view
Italian Submarine 'Axum' fired four torpedoes with 1 hit on the 'Nigera', 2 hits on the 'Cairo' and 1 hit on the 'Ohio'.. The 'Ohio' had a 24 x 27 foot hole in the port side amidships, in the pumproom. Boiler fires blewout due to the shock of the explosion. By 20:45, the 'Ohio' began moving at 7 knots towards the convoy, which was now  approximately 10 miles ahead. 8/12/1942
#500.190.07.04 (Courtesy Wikipedia)
Damaged tanker 'Ohio' being supported by destroyers 'HMS Penn' (left) and 'Ledbury' (right). 8/14/1942
#500.190.07.06 (Courtesy Wikipedia)
The 'Ohio' being towed into Grand Harbor, Malta with destroyer 'HMS Ledbury (Port), tug 'Robust' (Bow) and minesweeper 'Rye' (Stbd). 8/15/1942
#500.190.07.01 (Courtesy Wikipedia)
'Ohio's' cargo of approx. 170.000 barrels of oil is pumped into tankers; 'Plumleaf' (previously sunk but with some cargo tanks intact) and 'Boxol' on 'Ohio's' port side. 8/15/1942
#500.190.07.02b (Courtesy Wikipedia)
Malta Relieved: - 'Ohio' ensures her place in history.

Painting by: John S. Smith    1983
The painting was on temporary display at the Independence Seaport Museum courtesy of Terry Potter.
SSHS: 500.190.02.3635a
L/R: John Costello (Board Member SSHS), Dave Kavanagh (Board Member SSHS), Terry Potter (Director of J. Wells Henderson Library & Archives), and Dave Boone (Board Member SSHS). 8/26/2016

John Smith posing with his painting of the Royal Navy Cruiser ‘Charybois’,titled:

The scene: "The 'Ohio' being towed into Grand Harbor, Malta with destroyer 'HMS Ledbury (Port), tug 'Robust' (Bow) and minesweeper 'Rye' (Stbd).

The above painting was done by British Marine Artist, John S. Smith. It was commissioned, along other warships of the World War II era, by Donald Cass, himself a World War II veteran. Sun Ship's 'Ohio' (Hull 190) intrigued Don and it was the heroic efforts of the crew and the strength of the ship that manifested itself during 'Operation Pedestal'.  

John S Smith biography

John Stephen Smith
John started drawing from as long back as he can remember. He went to art school just prior to WW2 when he was called up and joined the Royal Navy. He served on the Cruiser HMS Niagara on the Malta and Russian convoys. After the war he continued his art studies and career. His work has been commissioned by most shipping companies and railways companies and his art has been used by many leading publishers in the UK and USA.
John S Smith art C/O the gallery

Note: John S Smith has passed away since this web posting-DMK

This painting, along with a significant amount of research on 'Operation Pedestal', was donated to the SSHS by Dora Spector in remembrance of her husband Don Cass. We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to share this work of art and history associated with our S.S. 'Ohio' Sun Ship's Hull 190.
Dave Kavanagh SSHS - 2016
1.  On the 8th of August, the battle fleet and escort array were as follows:
1.1Force "X" (Close Escort Group):4 Cruisers and 12 Destroyers
1.2Force "Z" (Covering Battle Group):2 Battleships, 3 Carriers, 4 Cruisers and 17 Destroyers.
1.3Force "R" (Oilers):2 Tankers and 4 Corvettes

2.   Other measures taken:
2.1August 10: a 'dummy' convoy left 'Port Said' with 3 cargo ships, 2 cruisers, 11 destroyers and 1 corvette
2.2August 11: a 'dummy' convoy left 'Haifa' with 1 cargo ship, 2 cruisers and 3 destroyers.
2.35 submarines were strategically located to protect against the Italian battle-fleet. 

3.  Passage of the Convoy:
3.1August 10:The convoy passed into the Mediterranean
3.4August 11:Attacks by both submarines and aircraft. No damage to the 'Ohio'
3.5August 12:Attacks by submarines, self-propelled mines and aircraft.
3.6August 12:19:55:  Submarine 'Axum' fired four torpedoes hitting the 'Nigeria', 'Cairo' hit twice and 'Ohio'. The 'Ohio' had a 24 x 27 foot hole in
     the port side amidships. Boiler fires blew out due to the shock of the explosion.
     20:45, the 'Ohio'began moving at 7 knots towards the convoy, which was now approximately 10 miles ahead.
3.7August 12:20:35: The convoy was attacked by 37 German aircraft. The primary target was the 'Ohio' who was still astern of the convoy.
3.8August 12 22:15: The 'Ohio' was joined by 'Ledbury' which had been sent back to lead the tanker since her gyro compass was not working,
     the shock of the torpedo explosion. The 'Ohio' was able to work her speed up to 13 knots and rejoined the convoy the next
3.9August 13:01:00-05:08: The convoy was attacked by Axis MTB's. The prime Target was once again the 'Ohio' but by now she was some 20
     miles astern of the convoy.
3.10August 13:06:00: 'Ohio' and 'Ledbury' rejoined the convoy and had passed a quiet night, unseen and unmolested. It was an irony that the
     torpedo that hit the 'Ohio' saved it from further attacks by submarines, aircraft and MTB's.
3.11August 13:09:30: One of the German Ju87's was shot down by the 'Ohio' and it hit the sea, bounced off a well, broke up in the air, and most
it ended up on tanker's deck forward of the bridge.
3.12August 13 09:45: The convoy was attacked by 20 German Ju87's and Ju88's. They obtained 6 near-misses on 'Ohio', which immobilized the
      tanker again.

3.13August 13 10:00: While the four surviving cargo ships were completing their voyage to Malta, the 'Ohio' had been damaged by numerous
near-misses. Power was regained after about 20 minutes, but stopped again after another near miss wrecked the fuel pumps
Attempting to restart their boilers, No.1 backfired and damaged its casing, Boiler No.2 fired, but after a short time, it ceased
operation. The 'Ohio's' engine would never work again. The steering gear was disabled. The effect of the torpedo hit and the
multitude of near misses was that the tanker had almost broken her back. The immobilized ‘Ohio’ was left behind by the convoy
and about 110 miles from Malta.
3.13August 1310:30:The destroyer 'Ledbury' came to assist the 'Ohio' and drove off a number of air attacks.
3.14August 1313:30: With an approaching flight of Ju88's, 'Penn' tossed off her tow and beat back the attack, but with one near miss on the
     'Ohio's' port side adding to the torpedo damage.
3.15August 13 14:15: Because the 'Ohio' was immobilized, the crew went on the Penn', which stood by the 'Ohio' offering AA protection.
3.16August 13 15:00-17:30 During this period there were four separate attacks. The 'Ohio' was not hit due to 'Penn's' AA fire and support from
RAF Beau fighters and Spitfires.
3.17August 13 18:35: Tow commenced again 'Penn' and 'Rye' (minesweeper) and 'Ohio' began moving successfully towards Malta at 4 knots.
3.18August 13 18:40: Four Ju88's attacked from the stern. The German's obtained 2 near misses and 1 direct hit on the engine room.
It shook the ship's side-plates so hard that they began to leak water into the engine room. The 'Ohio' began to sink and Malta
was 110 miles away. The 'Ohio' was abandoned again.
3.19August 13 20:00:20:05 :'Ohio' was boarded again with 'Penn' and 'Rye' taking up there towing positions and worked up a speed of about 5
3.20August 1320:52: A flight of Ju88's managed a surprise attack. 'Penn' (destroyer) and ‘Rye' once again threw-off their tow lines.
3.21August 13 22:30: Tow was resumed with a speed of 4 knots with 'Bramham'  carrying out anti-submarine patrols.
3.22August 14 01:05  Towing wires part.
3.23August 14 05:05: Various towing arrangements were attempted by 'Penn' and 'Rye' since dawn with no luck.
3.24August 14 07:15: 'Ledbury' rejoined the group with Malta less than 80 miles away. 'Ohio' was slowly settling by the stern, with the forword
end of the ship buoyant, she had started to hog putting a strain athwart ship in the area of the torpedo damage on the port side.
But by now, the flotilla was within effective range of the Malta-based Spitfires.
3.25August 1409:00: Tow resumed, with 'Penn', 'Rye' and 'Ledbury'. Portable pumps from 'Penn' were shipped on the tanker and put to
      work to stem the inflow of water into 'Ohio's' engine room.
3.26August 1410:45: The flotilla was attacked by 24 Ju88's. This attack was broken up by a force of 16 Spitfires, but a few bombers
     got through. This was the last attack that the 'Ohio' was to suffer but it was near the end of her. A near-miss at the
     stern buckled more lates and added more water to the stern part of the tanker. Yet,  they were still 50 miles from Malta.
3.27August 1508:00: 'Ohio' was dragged into Valletta harbor. Her deck was nearly awash but she was still afloat-just!
3.28August 1509:30: The 'Ohio' was moored alongside the wreck of the sunken tanker 'Plumleaf'. Unloading commenced immediately.


The British had lost; 1 aircraft carrier, 2 cruisers, 1 destroyer, 9 cargo ships and 34 aircraft. However, after 'Operation Pedestal' and with an ample supply of fuel, the British were able to return with ferocious offensive actions. During the September of 1942, more than 100,000 tons of Rommel's sorely needed supplies were sent to the bottom and October, there was even more. Starved of supplies, the Axis lost the crucial battle of Alamein during the last week of 1942.

The 'Ohio' during off-loading developed a hog as the forward section rose and the stern settled straining the hull in the area of the port torpedo hit. Further off-loading was followed by adding sea water ballast to the forward tanks which leveled the ship and she slowly rested on the sandy bottom with her stern barely afloat. After unloading and careful deballasting, she was towed down the harbor and beached off old Fort Ricasoli, a quiet backwater of the harbor. But this effort proved to be too much for 'Ohio's' tortured hull; she broke in two and sank in very shallow water with her deck awash but her superstructure above the water. During 1944/1945, the tanker's hulk was used as a base/accommodations by the Yugoslavian Navy, when their coastal craft came to Malta for overhauls.

After the war, the 'Ohio' was towed in two pieces out of the harbor. The forward half of the tanker was floated and towed 10 miles NE of Valletta; this forepart was sunk by gun fire from the destroyer 'Virago' on September 19, 1946. The stern section was made water tight and was towed out of the harbor by the tugs 'Salventure' and 'Robust'. During the dawn of October 3, 1946 her scuttling charges were exploded and the 'Ohio' stern went down.

'Ohio' was no more, but she had reserved a name in maritime history for an unparallelled epic of survival.

Note 1. Our grateful thanks to the magazine 'Warship International No.4, 1992 and the article "Ohio Must Get Through" by J. Caruana for this abbreviated history of our S.S. 'OHIO' Sun Ship-Hull No. 190 and her association with  'Operation Pedestal'. We would highly recommend obtaining this article to read the 'Rest of the Story'. D.Kavanagh  1/10/2017

In 1942, Britain was waging war in the Mediterranean against the Germans and Italians in North Africa On the island of Malta was a British military base from where British aircraft, submarines and cruisers were able to wreak havoc upon the Axis convoys. In December 1941 the Germans decided to neutralize Malta by means of a blockade and aerial bombardment.. Malta's strategic location was key to holding the Mediterranean, but food and oil had to get past the Axis bombers and submarines. The 250,000 Maltese and 20,000 British defenders were dependent on imported food and oil. Convoys were not successful in getting thru and small amounts of food and oil was being brought in by submarine and fast minesweepers.

During the six month period from February to July 1942, only five supply ships had manage to get through and three of these were promptly sunk upon their arrival by the Luftwaffe, with the loss of virtually all their cargoes.

Due to the lack of food, the island faced starvation and a surrender date in September, 1942 had already been established. A decision was made in London to get a convoy through to Malta, no matter what the cost. This convoy would include one precious tanker. If all the cargo ships reached Malta but the tanker was lost, the effort would be militarily wasted since Malta's aircraft and naval ships would be useless.

The convoy was code-named 'Operation Pedestal' and was scheduled for the first two weeks of August, 1942, in order to take advantage of moonless nights. The cargo ships were selected to be fast, this would be a 15 knot convoy, because speed meant a better chance of survival. But no British tanker was available. In spite of the chronic shortage of tankers to the United States, after Winston Churchill spoke to Franklin D Roosevelt, Washington agreed to lend a precious fast tanker for this convoy. The tanker chosen was the 'Ohio' for she was in Britain after delivering the 'first' load of oil carried in a U.S. tanker to Britain. She was transferred to the British Ministry of War Transport on the 10th of July at Bowling-on-the-Clyde and was assigned to the British Eagle Oil & Shipping Company.

Immediately, special equipment and additional weapons were installed aboard. Most of her machinery was re-bolted on resilient mounts while the steam pipes were supported with steel springs and pieces of timber, in order to cushion the shock of near-misses. This was done because the 'Ohio's' sister-ship 'Kentucky' (Sun Ship Hull 223) was lost in the June Malta Convoy because a near-miss caused a fracture in the main steam pipe. The 'Ohio' and her 11,500 tons of oils was manned by a crew of 77 men, which included 24 naval ratings to arm the guns. In command was Capt. Dudley W. Mason. Besides the 'Ohio', the convoy comprised thirteen cargo ships.

'Operation Pedestal' was underway and the convoy with an escort, sailing down the Clyde, left England on the 2nd August 1942. Off NW Ireland additional escorts joined the convoy and finally, off Gibraltar the rest of the escorts joined the convoy on Aug. 5th.

This a 48" model of the 'Ohio'
(Courtesy of D.Kavanagh)
The New 'Ohio

Here are two pictues of newest 'Ohio', built by Phillyship in Philadelphia, PA.. 75 years after Sun Ship's Hull 190.

This a 15" model of the 'Ohio'
(Courtesy of D.Kavanagh)

In this picture, from L/R: Dave Boone (SSHS Board Member), Jeff Schurr and John Curdy (SSHS Board Member) Photos Courtesy of Dave Boone
Left Photo: #326.71.008
'Ohio' returning from trial trip.
Right Photo: #326.71.009
#500.190.02.01a  Photo from Sun Ship's Product and Service Book-1946 (Courtesy of SSHS)
The following map shows the location and time of events pertinent to 'Operation Pedestal'. Our grateful thanks to; Warships International, Article author; J. Caruana, Dora Spector for sharing/donating these important documents concerning the 'Ohio'.
From: Warships International No. 4, 1992, "Ohio Must Get Through"
Item #: 500.190.08
Painting By: John S. Smith