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
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
penetration into any shipwreck should only
be done by those with proper training, experience and
wreck diving equipment. Scuba equipment
like powerful dive lights,
as well as redundant air supply like a
pony bottle or
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
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.
R.P. Resor Shipwreck. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.
R.P. Resor Shipwreck. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.