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USS Reuben James Christening

USS Reuben James Christening

This is a picture of the christening of the USS Reuben James by Miss Helen Strauss. It was taken on October 4, 1919, at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard near Wilmington, Delaware. The Reuben James became the very first United States Navy ship lost to hostile action in WWII. She was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on October 31, 1941 while escorting a convoy near Iceland. During coming months, from January to May in 19412, German U-boat wolf packs worked the East Coast of the United States with impunity. As many as 400 merchant ships were sunk in this time period. U-boat tanker ships, loaded with fuel and supplies stood farther offshore, waiting to re-supply the submarines so they could continue their wanton destruction. The U-boats often did their dirty work close inshore, almost on the beaches. Fires from burning ships were often seen by coastal residents.

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