Daily Event for October 7, 2010

While in convoy south of Nova Scotia the USS West Gate ID-3216 encountered a problem with her steering gear, the motor jammed while the rudder was turned to port sending the ship out of her column. The captain, Lt. Commander R. B. Vandervoort, USNRF, had the ships engines cut to half speed and sent men below to begin repairs to the motor. The night was dark and rainy and West Gate had dropped out of her station in the convoy. At about 2:30 a.m., two minuets after the steering had jammed the next ship in the column USS American ID-2292 approached the West Gate, her red light was seen off the starboard quarter and Vandervoort ordered the engines full ahead, but the collision could not be avoided.

American rammed the West Gate near the poop cutting a large hole in her starboard side leaving no doubt that she would founder. As the American pulled back the water rushed in and the West Gate began to settle quickly. Vandervoort ordered the ship abandoned and the crew began to launch the boats. One of the boats capsized after being launched and two men drowned, the remaining men got into other boats. There were no other accidents while getting the boats away, but Vandervoort had remained onboard al little too long and was forced to launch a raft. He had found six men still onboard, huddled together near the deckhouse in the dark, he made sure they got off on to the raft, but when the ship went down he was still in the water and was taken down with her. He fortunately was able to make it back to the surface and was pulled on to the raft.

There were a number of heroic scenes on the West Gate, Captain Vandervoort already mentioned, there was also Lt. (j.g.) Hillery and Lt. Spencer, who had been sent below to repair the steering and ended up putting out the fires to the boilers to protect them from bursting and killing other crewmen, Chief Gunner's Mate Wallrath who did not get into a lifeboat until he was sure everyone else was already off the ship and Seaman Bernard B. Sederquist who went to the after part of the ship, where the collision had taken place, and guided a number of men who had been in their bunks, out on to the deck and into a lifeboat.

Most of the survivors were picked up by the American, but 14 of them went unfound, seven had perished, but seven others were picked up later that morning and landed at Halifax. At first the Canadians thought that the bedraggled men were actually Germans, but this was soon sorted out and the men were later sent to Boston.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
USS West Gate ID-3216
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Anderson, Earl F.
Fireman 1st Class
Conway, Clarence A.
Wardroom Steward
Gauthier, William D.
Ship's Cook 3rd Class
Jones, Andrew D.
Ship's Cook 3rd Class
Sederquist, Bernard B.
Smith, Earl F.
Wallace, Homer E.
Baker 2nd Class

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