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veThe RP Resor Shipwreck  New York and New Jersey's (Wreck Valley)
Historical and current New York and New Jersey Shipwreck Information and images for scuba divers and fisherman.

The R.P. Resor was built in 1935 by Federal Ship Building Co. in Kearney, New Jersey, she was launched on Saturday, November 13, 1935. She was a 445 foot long, 66 foot wide tanker and was owned by Standard Oil Company (Exxon Corp). The R.P. Resor was the first vessel built in the United States on the Isherwood Arcform hull design. The Resor was also the first new ship to be fitted with a Contra Guide propeller and rudder, which instead of being symmetrically streamlined is warped. This system claims to add more speed and better maneuverability at the same power. She displaced 7,451 tons and was under the command of Captain Frederick Marcus.

On February 27, 1942,the R.P. Resor was traveling from Houston, Texas, to Fall River, Massachusetts, with 78,729 full barrels of crude oil in her holds. Seaman Forsdale was on lookout duty. He spotted a ship off the port bow with its running lights on. Forsdale thought it was a fishing smack and reported his sighting to the bridge. This, however, was just a ruse allowing the German Submarine U-578(Rehwinkel) to maneuver to within 200 yards before firing a torpedo which exploded amidships.  The U-boat then fired another torpedo which ruptured the Resor's oil tanks, setting fire to her, and to the oil covered waters around her. As flames enveloped the tanker, men leaped into the water or tried to launch lifeboats. Out of a crew of 41plus nine naval armed guards, only two survived, one being a crew member and the other a navy guard. The two that survived her initial explosion and fire were almost lost while being rescued. Crude oil from the sinking vessel had covered both men making them heavy and extremely slippery. Chief boatswains mate, John Daise, commander of the Coast Guard picket that rescued both survivors said that the men were coated with thick, congealed oil and weighed over 600 pounds. The Coast Guard cut the men's clothes off to lighten them. Daisy went on to say that even the survivors mouths were filled with a blob of oil. Fortunately, the rescuers were diligent and finally did succeed in lifting the half drowned exhausted men to their safety.

The Resor stayed afloat for two more days, burning the whole time. Crowds thronged to the beaches at Asbury Park to watch flames billow up on the horizon.  The U.S.S. Sagamore made a futile attempt to tow her ashore for salvage, but the sinking ship's stern bottomed out in 130feet of water.  Soon after, the Resor rolled over and slipped beneath the waves. The Resor was the 24th ship and 15thtanker sunk or damaged in U.S. coastal waters since the U-Boat campaign had begun.

The Resor is now a prominent offshore dive site. Her stern, which is intact, rests on an angle in130 feet of water. Her stern deck gun, still in place, points to the clean sand bottom. Most of her remains are scattered and low lying. The wreck is known for holding big lobsters and for the amount of brass cage lamps found in her stern section.

Remember penetration into any shipwreck should only be done by those with proper training, experience and wreck diving equipment. Scuba equipment like powerful dive lights, navigation reels, dive knives as well as redundant air supply like a pony bottle or doubles are standard gear for wreck divers.

While writing this text, I received a letter from Mrs Judy Baird. Judy's grandfather was Mr. Reuben Perry Resor, treasurer of Standard Oil. Judy went on to tell me that her grandmother had christened the vessel and the family still has the broken champagne bottle used in the christening ceremony which was mounted on a plaque by Standard Oil and presented to Judy's grandmother.

Underwater Photo Above: Divers swim past the Resor's stern deck gun. Photo courtesy Brandon

The following email was sent to me by the son of one of the R.P. Resors crew.

Good morning Dan,

My name is Bill Bores.  My father was William Bores, born Feb 13, 1917.  Dad joined the merchant marines in his early 20's.  Most of his service on tankers of Standard Oil.  At that time dad lived in Texas City with his mother, brother, and two sisters, his father having recently passed away.  The summer of 1941 Willie as he was called was assigned duties on the RP Resor.  Family business required Willie request leave for several weeks.  Growing up I had heard the story a few times.  He had a framed newspaper image of the RP Resor in the den that had a reference to his serving on it.  It's one of the burning hulk with it's split back billowing smoke and still afloat. 

Dad passed away Sept. 11, 1997.  Last year we sold mom's house and cleared everything out including an old box in the attic and a 60 year old black suit case tied up with rope.  The rope had been on it since we moved to the house in 1964 and seem a mystery to me.  It contained hundreds of letters, photos, and negatives, most hadn't seen light since being closed up in 1948. 

There were stacks of small manila pay envelops with the name "William Bores" stamped "SHIP NAME" and many near one end of the stack a group stamped "RP RESOR".  Within this group was a memo paper written by dad requesting leave and was signed with the ships captain, F. Marcus.  Dad's leave was from Dec. 6, 1941 - Feb. 22, 1942.  This discovery left me speechless. I knew the RP Resor was sunk on Feb. 27, 1942 with some reports indicating Feb. 26, 1942.  I found some reference to the RP Resor leaving port on Feb. 19, 1942.  If that is the case, dad missed staying aboard the RP Resor by three days. 

As mentioned above, there are many photos and negatives.  While writing this email I looked through one of the storage boxes and found an envelop with Mr William Bores. S.S. "R. P. Resor".  In it were more negatives.  

I am putting together a small display of an oil tanker of the RP Resor using a kit I found on eBay of the tanker Glasgow which is a similar design.  It's a 1:400 scale and will include a 1:400 type VIIC U-578 U-Boat.  It will include a small digital picture frame slide show and possibly some video.  Though it was a short time period in my fathers life, the order of events that allowed my father to live through this dangerous time in history. 

Your interest is scuba and discovering the hidden treasures of times lost and I thank you very much for your time.  Lost more than 60 years ago, seeing your photos of the RP Resor was a wonderful gift to me and my family. 

 I will forward photos of dad's RP Resor display, photos of the ship before it sank, some possibly of the engine room, and more data on his time assigned to the Resor.

Bill Bores


R.P. Resor Shipwreck. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.

R.P. Resor Shipwreck. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.






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