"The SS Montebello December 23, 1941"
tanker S.S. Montebello was torpedoed and shelled by the Japanese
submarine I-21 at 0540 PWT on December 23, 1941 about 4 miles south of
Piedros Blaucos Light House, California while en route from Avila, CA to
Vancouver, British Columbia with a cargo of crude oil. She carried a
crew of 38.
After 4 hours out of San Luis port, the sub was sighted coming up astern. The Master ordered a radio message sent that an enemy sub had been seen. At 0540, a torpedo crashed into the ship on the starboard side. The explosion blew a huge hole in the hull, cutting off all power. As the crew tried to lower the boats, the sub began shelling the ship. The tanker sank about an hour after the attack. The survivors in two boats were picked up by the launch ALMA from Estero Bay. The other boat was beached by the crew south of CAMBRIA, CA. These boats were machine gunned by the submarine. Not a single crewman was hit.