Maritime inquiry 1939 - 1945
The information below regarding ships in the Nortraship fleet is a direct transcript of the original source "Sjøforklaringer fra andre verdenskrig (1940 - 1945)". The informasjon is collected from maritime inquiries held during and right after the war. The information may differ from the other quality assured information in Krigsseilerregisteret.
Captain THORVALD SOLHEIM appeared ...
The voyage was normal until 3rd January when one ship in the convoy was torpedoed about 1845 hours by enemy attack from the starboard side.
He kept on according to orders but on 8th January about 1940 hours the "ALBERT L. ELLSWORTH" was torpedoed by enemy attack from the port side. The torpedo exploded in the vicinity of No. 6 tank, setting fire to the fuel oil cargo. Another ship was torpedoed a few seconds later.
The ship's confidential papers were not destroyed but the Master has no doubt they were burnt and did not fall into the hands of the enemy.
The crew of the "ALBERT L. ELLSWORTH" were obliged to leave the ship immediately owing to the terrible fire and left the ship in lifeboats being picked up quite shortly by an escort vessel after having rescued about 20 men of the British Tanker "OTTENTIA II" who were swimming about in oily water, their ship having sunk i a very few minutes.
The Chief Officer saved the ship's Log-Book. Captain Solheim saved t he ship's Register, but all the other ship's papers and crew's effects were lost.
All the crew were very well treated by the Captain, officers and crew of the escort vessel, but Captain Solheim was transferred to another escort vessel with other Masters to endavour to effect som salvage operations which were unsuccessful.
Captain Solheim has no doubt that the "ALBERT L. ELLSWORTH" ultimately sank as she was burning furiously from stem to stern when last seen.
On arrival at Gibraltar he was taken charge of by the Norwegian Consul who informed him that the Officers and Crew of the "ALBERT L. ELLSWORTH" had been trans-shipped direct from the escort vessel to a British Transport and had already left Gibraltar for the United Kingdom.