The W.E. Hutton is 13.8 miles from the Beaufort Inlet. The wreck rests in 70 feet of water and there is not much relief on this wreck. This wreck is frequently visited by divers and is also visited by fishermen. There is an abundance of coral growth on the wreck and is home to many fish. This is a prime place to spear fishing for flounder and other game fish. Near the bow area are two large anchors to the north and the engine, rudder, and pair of boilers near the stern. Due to the lack of reference points, a wreck reel comes in handy for navigation. The Hutton is still an enjoyable dive fairly close to shore. It is a good wreck to dive on the way in from deeper ones or when the weather will not permit journey to wrecks farther out.
March 18, 1942 was a fateful day on the east coast of North Carolina, especially for the W.E. Hutton. It was at the height of the U-Boat war in the coastal waters off the United States. The U-124 lurked off the coast that night captained by Kapitanleutnant Johann Mohr. It was a busy time for the submarine commander having sunk the Kassandra Louloudis the day before and the Papoose and the E.M. Clark earlier in the evening. He would also sink the Esso Nashville and the Naeco. Captain Carl Flaathen mastered the W.E. Hutton previously known as the Portola Plumas. Captain Flaathen had ordered that regular watches were kept with officers on the watch and that a course close to shore and in line with navigational buoys be kept the whole way. On this voyage to Pennsylvania the tanker's holds were filled with bunker C fuel oil. About 11:30 p.m. on the evening of March 18th the lookout spotted a torpedo from the U-124 a split second before it struck the starboard bow of the ship. Eight minutes after the first strike, a second torpedo struck the heavily laden tanker amidships on the port side, catching her cargo of fuel on fire. Captain Flaathen was cut by flying glass and ordered the ship abandoned. The ship drifted for about 45 minutes before sinking beneath the waves. There were 23 survivors and 13 crewmen lost their lives. The surviving crewmen were picked up at daylight the following morning by the British ship Port Halifax.
In June of 1943 the Navy Salvage service and the US Coast Guard began the demolition of the wreck, deemed a navigational hazard. Over the course of the year, over thirty tons of dynamite was used on this vessel. As a result, the wreck of the W.E. Hutton is very broken up and scattered.