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.
Appeared Captain Ingvald Waage ...
Captain Waage stated that on the 27th August the vessel was torpedoed without warning and was abandoned. The Cheif Officer succeded in bringing with him the log book which, however, was spoilt by sea water in the lifeboat. We did not succeed in getting the scrap logbook with us.
Captain Waage produced a report dated London the 11th September this year, with reference to the occurence, prepared by him according to memory. ...
The report was read out and approved by the Captain.
On being questioned the Captain stated that the vessel had all the prescribed lifesaving equipment and that this was incomplete order. Lifesaving jackets had been distributed to each one in particular of the crew. Hult had no lifesaving jacket on, neither had Unneland.
On being questioned the Captain stated that the coal would have been more suitable for firing with natural drought and that they were very unsuitable for forced drouth with which the vessel was equipped. The coals had been supplied by the Dominion Coal Co., Sydney, who supply all the vessels which are bunkering at Sydney.
On being questioned by the assessor the Captain stated that the steamer to which he signalled resembled by appearance the American ships which Belgium obtained at the outbreak of the war. The captain was quite sure that the steaamer must have seen the boats. It could not be avoided. There was brilliant sunshine at the time.
They were presumably 15 miles from land, slight swell.
All of the crew lost their clothes and personal effects onboard. As regards privately owned instruments etc., the captain lost:- one sextant and books.
The Chief Engineer lost:- some privately owned tools.
The Chief Officer lost:- some books.
Appeared as the 1st witness, 2nd Officer K. Francis Rasmussen ...
The witness had been on wathc since 12 o'clock. At about 1.30 o'clock the witness heard a heavy report and it seemed as if the ship suddenly sank under the feet of the witness, and all of a sudden the vessel heeled over to starboard. On looking toward aft. the witness saw that the top of the after mast had been broken off, the whole of the deck cargo upset, and on the starboard side there was deck cargo in the sea. The weather was fine, but there was a rather rough swell. The witness neither saw nor heard anything before the report. There was no one on the bridge besides the helmsman, jr. ordinary seaman Holtane.
In addition, ordinary seaman Gunnar Anderson was on deck.
The witness immediately went to the lifeboat. The witness thinks that about 3/4 of an hour elapsed before the lifeboats rowed away after the vain attempt at saving boy assistant Hult.
During that time the submarine had approached the vessel, at first only the tower could be seen, but gradually the hull emerged and during the attempt at saving Hult the submarine was lying still with the hull well out of the water, probably 1 1/2 - 2 miles off.
After the lifeboats had rowed away a fair distance the submarine commenced firing at the ship and the witness saw there were direct hits on the prot side of the forward part of the vessel.
The ship could be seen right up to the time darkness fell, but she had heeled over so that th rail was in the water. The list had decreased.
The boat, where the witness was, was not attacked by the submarine as this boat was lying too far away.
At about 1 o'clock the witness had seen Hult going towards aft. on the deck cargo with a pail; he was probably going to wash up after dinner. Later, the witness did not see Hult until he, the witness, was in the lifeboat and Hult was the clinging ot a wire which was hanging from the awning stanchion and the seas were breaking over him. The swell was breaking over the poop and there was a great deal of timber in the sea so that the lifeboats had to manoeuvre carefully.
The witness saw that Hult had a nasty wound on the temple and the whole of the back of his head was covered with blood. The witness considers it certain that Hult was not quite conscious, but was holding on to the wire due to cramp. He did not shout, but some sounds came from him at different times.
From the lifeboat the witness saw that the Captain and Andersen went towards aft. searching for Unneland and Hult. But at the same time the witness saw smoke from the poop as fire had broken out in the crew's quarters. For that reason Hult was probably hidden from them.
After Andersen had fastened the rope round Hult, a task which took time because the seas were breaking over both of them, it was found that the rope had not been made secure as it slipped when they commenced hauling from the lifeboats. Hult was still hanging on to the wire. Andersen had by then worked himself up to the prot rail. After quite a short while Hult was seen to have let go his hold and disappeared.
Appeared the 2nd witness, Arne Holtane ... jr. ordinary seaman on board ...
The witness was at the wheel and neither saw nor heard anything before the report. The witness belonged to the starboard lifeboat and stated that Hult was evidently not quite conscious. During the attempt at rescue, Hult was standing staring in another direction without replying to calls from the lifeboats.
The witness is of the opinion that the submarine fired about 15- 20 shots at the ship. The latter was seen the whole time until darkness fell, lying low in the water.
Appeared the 3rd witness, Gustav Barnholdt Røkenes ... Chief Officer onboard.
The witness stated that it was quite evident that the reason why the ship could not keep up with the convoy was solely on account of the poor coal.
The explosion was violent. The witness formed the opinion that the torpedo struck on the starboard side abreast of the after mast.
The vessel was lying with the forward part well out of the water when the submarine started to fire. After that the vessel was lying lower in the water as far as the witness could see. About 20 shots were fired.
Appeared the 4th witness, ordinary seaman Gunnar Andersen ...
The witness had been on watch from 12 o'clock and had not seen anything of Hult until he, the witness, was in the starboard lifeboat. Hult was then holding on to a wire at the starboard rail of the poop. There was shouted to him that he should jump into the sea, but it seemed as if he neither heard nor saw anything. The witness is of opinion that he was more dead than alive. The witness swam with a rope across to Hult and saw that his teeth had been knocked out and that his head was covered with blood. Hult did not recognise the witness. Having got to the starboard rail the witness fastened the rope round the waist of Hult with a clove-hitch. Anyhow, the witness thinks that he succeeded in making a clove-hitch. Every now and again the seas broke over both of them so that they were completely under water. For some reason or other the rope slipped off Hult who thereafter held on to a plank before he disappeared.
The witness was then near the ventilator on the poop, he went right aft. and swam to the lifeboat.
Appeared the 5th witness, Ole Martin Amundsen ... 2nd engineer on board. ...
The witness had been on watch in the engineroom from 12 o'clock. After the explosion the vessel heeled just a little over to port and thereafter to starboard.
The quick shutting valve had closed by itself. The witness and the fireman experienced a little difficulty in getting up as the ladder had been knocked loose. They ran to the lifeboat on the port side. The witness went along to his cabin and fetched some clothes which came in very useful as most of the men were found to be badly clothed. On being questioned the witness remarked that the coals were not suitable for forced drought and that was the reason why the ship lost the convoy.
Appeared the 6th witness, Peder Kristoffersen ... Chief Engineer on board.
The reason why the ship lost the convoy was solely the coal from Sydney.
As soon at they had come down to the English coals the speed came up to 33 -34 miles (8 1/2 miles and hour).
Hult was evidently unconscious and was holding convulsively on to the rail. A rope was thrown and twice the rope came straight over his shoulder.
Again appeared Chief Officer Røkenes and made the following statement regarding the conversation between the submarine and the Chief Officer's lifeboat.
After the ship had been fired at the first time the U-boat came up alongside the lifeboat and asked for the nationality which was replied to. When the commander of the U-boat got to know that we were Norwegian he shook his head. Further, there was asked why we were sailing there.
This was not replied to. Afterwards the Commander of the U-boat made a derogatory remark about England.
Thereafter the U-boat continued on and fired at the ship with a gun for the second time. We could not see the effect very well, but anyhow the ship was well afloat after the firing was finished.