The New York Times, December 1, 1915, Wednesday
Standard Oil Steamer "Moreni" fires, 150 shells at U-Boat, before She Goes Down.
FOUR OF HER CREW LOST
Naval Gunners Abandoned Ship Only After She Took Fire. Bravery Amazes Germans.
WASHINGTON, June 15. - the most thrilling fight between a German submarine and an American armed merchantmanyet reported to Washington, was described in a cablegram received today by Secretary Lansing from a point in Europe.
The message briefly discribed a two-hour battle between the American tanker Moreni and the U-boat, and told how the submarine had to fire some 200 shots before it was able to force the crew and naval gunners on the American tanker to aband-on their vessel.
So splendid was the fight that thone on board the Moreni put up against the submarine that the German Captain congratulated the American Captain. Four of those on board the American vessel were lost in the battle, but 43 of the crew and the armed guard were saved. Six of them were wounded and are now in a European hospital. The Moreni was not abandoned until after it was ablaze and the sea was on fire with ignited oil, when the crew put out in their lifeboats. They were rescued by a passing steamer.
The action of the submarine commander in treating the Americans with such unexpected courtesy was the subject of much
comment here. Germany has proclaimed her intention to treat British armed merchant crews as pirates. In this case eventhe naval bluejackets and their officer, properly a prisoner of war, were set free along with the merchant crew.
Secretary Lansing tonight authorized this statement regarding the information received by the department regarding theMoreni fight:
"The Department of State is informed of the sinking of the American tank steamer Moreni about six o'clock on the morning of June 12, after a two-hour running fight with a German submarine.
"The vessel was first fired upon from an estimated distance of 8,000 yards at four o'clock. The steamer, which was armedand carried a gun crew, returned the shots and attempted to escape. There was a light breeze and smooth sea. The submarine was hardly visible. "After -150 shots, in - reply to some 200 shots fired by the submarine, the crew abandoned the vessel, which was all ablaze, taking to the lifeboats in a fiery sea. An oiler, Edward Cunningham of Brooklyn, was drownedwhile escaping to a boat. Wireless Operator G. Curran, Jr. of New York, died of heart failure in the lifeboat, and one seaman,E. Moustner, was injured by gunfire and died in the lifeboat. Fireman A. Geelsen also died of wounds. These last two weretreated by the surgeon of the submarine.
"The German submarine Captain congratulated the American Captain upon the splendid fight he had made.
"Half an hour after the vessel was sunk the crew was picked up by a passing steamer. Forty-three of the original crew of forty-seven were landed. Six of these were slightly hurt and placed in a hospital. All the gunners were saved."
The Moreni, a tank steamship of 4,045 tons, owned by the Standard Oil Company of New York, sailed from here, on May 1 for Baton Rouge La., which port she left on May 12 for Leghorn, Italy. She was last reported passing Gibraltar on June 13, the day she was sunk. The Moreni was commanded by Captain Thomas Thompson.
The vessel was built in Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1913, and was 354 feet long with a beam of 48 feet.