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Oil proved to be the life blood for nations and their armed forces, and thus oil tankers often represented the single most important ships within convoys. SS Ohio is arguably the best-known merchant vessel of WWII, largely due to its role in Operation Pedestal where it is believed to have...
Oil proved to be the life blood for nations and their armed forces, and thus oil tankers often represented the single most important ships within convoys. SS Ohio is arguably the best-known merchant vessel of WWII, largely due to its role in Operation Pedestal where it is believed to have saved Malta from falling into Axis hands with its vital supply of much-needed oil.
Operation Pedestal: The island of Malta suffered greatly during the early part of the war. Though only a small island, barely 17 miles long, its position in the centre of the Mediterranean made it strategically vital as a British base. In secrecy, a relief convoy was planned, Operation Pedestal. It was intended to be the biggest and most heavily armed convoy put to sea. All available resources were committed, making it a real all-or-nothing operation. Central to this was the SS Ohio, an American tanker with a British merchant mariner for a master, Captain Dudley Mason. This ship was the biggest tanker of the day, displacing 9,000 tons, and yet was also the fastest; more importantly, it could carry enough fuel to keep Malta fighting for months. Refitted at Glasgow, the Ohio was armed with anti-aircraft guns and its sides fitted with armoured plates to withstand torpedoes, all designed to get the ship through the most dangerous thousand miles of sea. Joined by thirteen other merchant ships and nearly 60 warships, the Ohio started the voyage from Gibraltar to Malta on August 10.
Whilst only five of the fourteen merchant vessels that made up the convoy reached Grand Harbour due to the relentless efforts of the Luftwaffe and Regia Marina, it was a strategic victory nonetheless. Operation Pedestal was not the success that had been planned, but it brought enough supplies to keep Malta fighting and ensure the island would not be forced to surrender due to starvation.
This vessel was previously only available as part of the Merchant Convoy box set.