Posted by: Waring Hills | 10 June 2011

USS Yorktown Rescues Fifty-three Merchant Sailors 1960

Shipwreck caption marks the site of the Yorktown's rescue in 1960 (Image from Google Earth).

On 10 June 1960, seven helicopters from HS-4 flying from the USS Yorktown (CV-10) rescued 53 merchant sailors from the British freighter Shun Lee which had run aground on Pratas Reef (500 miles northwest of Manila). Under storm conditions in the wake of Typhoon Mary, the helicopters picked up 25 men from the wreck and 28 more from Pratas Island inside the reef.

Four HS-4 helicopters, H-34 Seabats, launch from the flight deck of USS Yorktown CV-10 in 1960 (Photo US Navy)

The Shun Lee had originally been built at Shanghai Dock & Engineering Co. Ltd. for the British Merchant fleet in World War I as a Standard Built Type Ship. She was to be named War Tiara, but was not completed until after the war in June 1920.  The War Tiara was to gross 3059 tons,  length was 331 feet, and she had a beam of  46.5 feet.  She flew a British flag and her merchant history is shown below with her different names and companies:

1920 YANNIS, N.E.Ambatielos, Argostoli, Greece
1921 MAUSANG, Indo China S.N.Co, London
1943 MARAS, T.C.Munakalat Vekaketi Devlet Denizyollari Isletme, Istanbul
1945 MAUSANG, Indo China S.N.Co, London
1950 SHUN LEE, Jebshun Shipping Co, Hong Kong
1952 HIPPOPOTAMUS, Wallem & Co, Hong Kong
1955 SHUN LEE, Shun Kee Navigation Co, Hong Kong
8.6.60 aground in South China Sea, 20.08N 116.07E, total loss.

United States merchant ship Guatanamo built similar to the Shun Lee (US Navy).

Pratas Island as seen from space.

Possible wreck of the Shun Lee on Pratas Reef (Image from Google Earth).



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