Daily Event for October 9, 2010

The Midnight was a WW2 C-2 type standard cargo ship built by North Carolina Shipbuilding in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1944. She sailed under the names Pacific Bear and Lanikai, but in 1961 she was renamed Panoceanic Faith. On October 9, 1967 she was en route to India from San Francisco where she had loaded over 10,000 tons of fertilizer, she was to make a stop in Japan, but never made it there.

The ship ran into a heavy storm and began taking on water in the forward holds, she was also having engine trouble, which was reported to the ship's owners in New York by the captain by radio. He told them "Due to continual gales and mounting seas and swells numerous repairs to boilers (and other engine room equipment) fuel and water very critical, doing best."

In his last radio message to New York he said "Speed four knots... boilers, tubes, plates leaking badly... repairs impossible because of weather... advise nearest bunkering station." The main cause of the problem was that a hatch in the forward section of the ship had been leaking and that a tarpaulin that was supposed to cover it had become dislodged and was not replaced. As the water came in it created a domino effect, as one compartment filled it spilled into the next one through any opening it could find.

With the ship listing to starboard at 35° the port lifeboat could not be launched, so the only means of escape was the starboard boat, which when launched got jammed and overturned spilling its occupants into the sea. A U.S. Coast Guard aircraft was flying over the scene dropping rubber life rafts to the men in the water, but most were to weak to inflate them. As the pilot continued to circle the last distress signal went out from the Panoceanic Faith, and three minuets later she went down.

Only five of the forty-one man crew survived in the freezing water, Edwin D. Johnson, John Kirk and Oscar C. Wiley were picked up by the Norwegian ship Visund and landed at Long Beach, Gordon L. Campbell and Lewis E. Grey, Jr. were picked up by the Japanese ship Igharu Maru and landed at Yokohama, Japan. Only thirteen bodies were ever recovered, eight of them being picked up by the Russian (Soviet) ship Orkehov.

When the Soviet ship docked in Vancouver on Oct. 10 the captain, Leonid Zhezherenko, refused to allow the bodies be unloaded with a crane, which the local authorities were going to use. It was not until stretchers were brought aboard and each man had an American flag placed over his body that the Russian captain allowed the bodies to be removed from his ship. A very respectful gesture toward fellow seamen made by a captain of a Soviet merchant ship during the cold war.

The captain of the Panoceanic Faith was found at fault for the loss of his ship and for the loss of the lives of his crew, he put up no defense as he also perished in his ship. It would seem however that he, perhaps under pressure from his company, took short cuts and did not observe safety regulations which led to the disaster.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock
MaritimeQuest.com



Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
SS Panoceanic Faith
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Name
Rate
Notes
*
Apolito, Antonio A.
Boatswain
Batill, Julius A.
Unknown
***
Bechtold, James
3rd Asst. Engineer
Blain, Albert B.
Unknown
Bradley, Harry K.
Unknown
Collins, Kenneth L.
Unknown
Glasgow, Scotland
*
Corum, Lester L.
Messman
*
Daniels, Clement H.
Wiper
London, England
(U.S. resident)
Dhein, James A.
Unknown
*
Diblasio, Joseph
Messman
**
Dunphy, John P.
Engineer
*
Eden, Raymond R.
Messman
Honduran national
Griffith, Carlos
Unknown
Hood, Charles R.
Unknown
Howard, Larry G.
Unknown
***
Janes, Jr., Robert E.
3rd Asst. Engineer
Joyce, Donald
Unknown
Kwiatkowski, Czslaw
Able Seaman
Leary, Neil J.
Able Seaman
Lehtonen, Armas W.
Unknown
*
Limbaugh, Henry C.
Able Seaman
*
Markris, Evangelos G.
Chief Electrician
Greek national
McGee, Edward
Fireman/Watertender
***
McPhee, John R.
3rd Mate
***
Nowd, Joseph P.
3rd Mate
Ogles, John S.
Master
Rabava, Leodoro E.
Unknown
Ratering, Vernon A.
Unknown
Richardson Jr., Earl M.
Unknown
*
Russ, Robert C.
Able Seaman
Shubin, Morris W.
Unknown
**
Ward John M.
Unknown
Wear, Max E.
Unknown
Wong, Kong C.
Unknown
Wright, Donald E.
3rd Cook
*
Body recovered by Orekhov and landed at Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
**
Graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy Class of 1965.
***
Graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy Class of 1967.

To submit a photo, biographical information or correction please email the webmaster.

Panoceanic Faith seen at San Francisco, California.



October 11, 1967: Front page of the Winona Daily News, Winona, Minnesota shows a photo of the sinking Panoceanic Faith taken by the Coast Guard aircraft.



A memorial to the graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy who were lost in Panoceanic Faith. The memorial is located at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.
(Photo courtesy of Vincent M. Lonergan)
© 2013 Vincent M. Lonergan all rights reserved



1.
Feb. 2, 2012

Thank you for your site. My grandfather, John Kirk, was one of the firefighters on the Panoceanic Faith and 1 of the 3 only survivors. He never would talk about the ordeal for it was to painful and so the stories I know are what I have been told by my mother, family members and researching it on the web. I have found your website to be very helpful.

Thank You,
Sarah Sabatini
Reno, Nevada


2.
Feb. 11, 2012

Uncle Robert (Bob) had fought his way thru the whole Pacific campaign in WWII in the US Navy. He went down with the SS Panoceanic Faith. I occasionally visit the old Coast Guard site and read the marine causality report. I found that recently much of the info in a 45 year old report was scrubbed (info blanked out). I find that disturbing. Thanks for keeping some of this info available, I was not aware of Captain Zhezherenko's noble act in Vancouver.

Russ


3.
June 26, 2012

I was at sea the day the Panoceanic Faith sent out her SOS. We were in the same storm system a day behind her heading for Vietnam. I don't remember what ship I was sailing on at the time. I know I was sailing in the steward department at the time as I did my first engine room tour on the Texaco California as wiper late in 67. I was on the Badger State shortly before she went down in the same vicinity two years later. The irony is that they were built at the same time in the same ship yard making them sister ships. It was with a sense of sorrow that we were out of reach of the Pan Oceanic Faith that day.

Ted Dazis


4.
Oct. 24, 2012

I was a fellow crew member of Larry Howard aboard the S.S. Raphael Semmes (sea-land service) Jan. 1967- Mar. 1967 we were both wipers.

Patrick Golden


5.
May 1, 2013

I am a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) Class of 1968. One of my classmates sent me the link to your website and the "Daily Event for October 9, 2010 - Pan-Oceanic Faith". Four of the shipmates that are listed in your table are graduates of MMA Class of 1967 and I knew them well having lived with them at the academy for two years and one of them had a brother that was in my graduating class. There is also another MMA graduate from a previous year on the list. I have added information to your table and I hope that you will include it in your "Roll of Honor" on your website. I found your write up about the sinking of the ship very moving.

Respectfully yours,
Vincent M. Lonergan


6.
Oct. 4, 2017

I came across a painting of the "Pacific Bear" cargo ship (IMO 5269950) by an artist named Ling. Obviously this was painted prior to the renaming of the ship to "Panoceanic Faith" in 1961. I was curious about the ship, so I began researching, and discovered the information about the Panoceanic Faith Memorial in Bourne, Massachusetts. Are you familiar with it? Do you know the full name of the artist or any information about the artist? I noticed that there have been memorial services on the anniversary date of the sinking of the ship. Will there be one this year to commemorate 50 years? I think it is wonderful that the lives of the 36 lost have been memorialized.

Cheryl Coke



2008 Daily Event
2009 Daily Event