According to the NOAA Ocean Exploration, the freighter Norlindo, an unarmed and unescorted oil-fired steam-propelled ship, was sailing off the coast of southwest Florida towards Havana, Cuba in May 1942. It had departed Mobile, Alabama, carrying a full load of heavy fuel oil. At this point in World War II, the United States had minimal involvement in the conflict and American shipping was not well-protected. German U-boats were targeting Allied vessels, and Norlindo fell victim to a U-boat attack. The U-507 submarine fired a single torpedo that struck Norlindo's aft, causing it to sink rapidly. Of the 28 crew members on board, five were killed, and the rest clung to rafts until rescued by another ship.
During this period, the Gulf of Mexico became a dangerous area due to U-boat activity. Between 1942 and 1943, 24 German U-boats entered the Gulf, sinking a total of 56 merchant vessels and damaging 14 others. Norlindo was one of these casualties, marking the beginning of a significant number of U-boat-related losses in the Gulf.
The U.S. response to the U-boat threat was to retrofit vessels with deck guns, include naval armed guards in crews, and implement convoys escorted by armed patrol ships. However, these measures were not yet in place when Norlindo was attacked. The article also mentions ongoing efforts to locate Norlindo's wreckage, which has remained undiscovered for decades. Collaborative teams of scientists from Germany, Italy, and the United States are working together to find the ship's remains and piece together its story.
More information about the Norlindo can be found at: