On March 18th, 1942 the 435' U.S. oil tanker W. E. Hutton was cruising
20 miles south of Cape Hatteras. In her hull the Hutton carried 65,000
barrels of #2 heating oil. Just before midnight a torpedo struck the
right side of the Hutton, blowing away part of the bow and both anchors.
The Captain of the Hutton, Carl Flaathen knew they were sitting on a
bomb of heating oil, with the next torpedo the fuse. A couple of
minutes later that torpedo was fired by the German submarine U-124.
The huge explosion and the ensuing fire killed 13 of the Hutton's
36 crewmembers. A half hour after the second torpedo struck, the Hutton
went down and completed a three ship hattrick for the U-124. The E. M.
Clark, and the Papoose where the other two ships sank that March day.
The survivors of the Hutton were picked up the next morning by a British
ship and taken to Savannah, Georgia.
A little over a year later the Brazilian freighter Suloid, loaded with
manganese ore and headed for New York, ran into the partially submerged
hull of the Hutton. The Suloid drifted for about a mile before sinking.
These wrecks represented a hazard to naval navigation, so they were depth
charged, cut and reduced to a bunch of steel plates. There's still some
artifacts lying around for the diver who knows where to look.
These wrecks rest about 15 miles Southwest of Beaufort Inlet. The depths
are relatively the same, about 65'-70' with the biggest relief coming
from the boilers. Average visibility is about 10'-20' with bouts of over
60' on calm days. Water temps average about 78 degrees during the summer
months. Some modern day inhabitants of these wrecks include flounder,
spadefish, sheepshead, silver snapper, grouper, eels, stingrays, and an
occasional shark may come cruising by.
Because these wrecks are relatively close to land, and at depths that are
shallower than most wrecks in the area, these two dives offer an excellent
introduction to North Carolina wreck diving.