images courtesy of
Service Empire was a 465 foot tanker built in 1918. Originally know was
the Ampetco, the ship was a member of the Cities Service Oil Company
Fleet. Just after the start of World War II, the Empire was headed up
the Florida coast to Philadelphia carrying a full load of volatile
petroleum products, when she entered the patrol area of the German
submarine U-128. The U-128 had recently sunk first allied ship off
Florida, the Pan Massachusetts, in the same vicinity. The U-128 put two
torpedoes into the Empire’s starboard side, which ignited her cargo and
sent her to a flaming end off Port Canaveral, FL. The wreck now lays
upright in 255 fsw. Much of this damage can still be seen today. A
large wreck her most notable features include a stern anti-ship gun and
large clusters of oculina coral around her deck.
(l) Stern and gun of Cities Service Empire; (r)
Shell plate blown free of stern from depth charges.
(l) Naval gun on stern; (r) Gun traverse.
(l) Gun barrel and recoil tube; (r) Screw with missing blade.