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 B. A. Thorbjørnsen appeared ...
The captain produced a report, written in English, in connection with the torpedoing. The report was translated and read out in Norwegian by the Vice Consul to the witnesses who expressed their agreement with the correctness of its contents. ...
Captain Bernt Anton Throbjørnsen ... was asked the following questions, which were answered as follows:-
Where were you at the moment of the torpedoing? In my office.
How were the officer's watches divided? The three watch system.
When the forward part of the vessel took fire, did you consider it impossible to make any attempt at extinguishing? Yes.
The vessel had 3 lifeboats, 2 rafts and one gig.
Boat drill had been carried out before departure from Halifax and fire extinguishing practice at about the time of the New Year.
On deck the legally prescribed numer of fire hoses were available.
Besides the fire hoses, were there any other fire extinguishing apparatuses available? Yes, foam apparatuses.
Which boats left the ship? Two lifeboats and the motor boat left the ship.
Were there any boats or lifesaving equipment left on the ship after she had been abandoned? Both rafts were left on board, but the forward one was probably destroyed by fire.
Did you put questions about returning to the ship to each one of the officers and the crew? Yes, the officers and crew were requested to go back to the ship in order to try to save her.
Did the whole of the crew remain on board the British destroyer? Yes, the whole crew remained on board.
In what condition was the vessel when the destroyer left her? The vessel was lying deep down at the bow and had a list to port.
Did you or one of the officers give the order to go into the boats? Yes, I gave the order.
Did you confer with the engineer as to whether the engine could be used for the salving of the vessel? Yes.
Did you let all the lifeboats go adrift after you had come on board the corvette? Yes.
Did you consider the ship as lost?
What was done about the Admiralty papers?
The captain referred to his report. (in respect of these two questions).
2nd Officer Eivind Abrahamsen ... was on watch on the bridge.
What did you do after the torpedoing? I ran to the port motor boat in order to have it put into the water.
What damage was caused by the torpedoing? The torpedoing set the forward part of the vessel on fire, and the 2nd officer was of opinion that it was impossible to extinguish it.
Did the vessel maintain speed after the torpedoing? The vessel had movement, but the engineer on watch stopped the engine.
Did you give any order to extinguish the fire? No.
Did you give alarm signal to the crew after the torpedoing? No.
Which lifeboat did you go into? The 2nd officer fell into the sea when he was going to lower himself down into the lifeboat and was picked up by the port lifeboat astern.
When you were asked about going back to the ship, what did you reply? No.
Did you consider the vessel as lost? Yes.
The 2nd officer could not get hold of the log book on account of smoke and oil in the chart room.
4th Engineer Anton Torsvik ...
What did you do after the torpedoing? Stopped the engine at about 11.30 (at night) after the vessel had been struck and then ran up on deck straight to his lifeboat.
Were there steam boilers for auxiliary engines and pumps? Yes, two steam boilers.
Were the fires under these boilers extinguished? No, they were fully lighted as the heating of the oil for the discharging had commenced.
What damaged could this cause? The 4th engineer is of opinion that it would destroy the tubes in the boilers.
Who was on watch in the engine room together with you? Motorman Tonning.
On being asked about going back to the ship, Torsvik replied: No, he considered his life would be in great danger.
Could the steam valves to the oil pumps be closed from the deck? No.
Chief Engineer Lars Dolven ...
What did you do after the torpedoing? I went to the port lifeboat as quickly as possible.
What would the the result of the fires under the boilers not being extinguished before you left the vessel? It is difficult to say, much would depend on how long they would burn. There was oil in the tanks for 6-8 hours.
Did you get the engine room log book with you? No.,
Did you consider that the time was too short to make sure that the fires had been extinguished? In my opinion, yes.
In which lifeboat did you leave the vessel? In the port lifeboat.
What did you reply with regard to going back to the ship? No, I wanted to see how things developed.
Did you consider the vessel as lost?
Yes, when we left her.
Could the main engine be used after the torpedoing? I cannot make any definite statement about this, but I think it could be used.
Did you confer with the captain about the use of the engine for the salving of the vessel when you were on board the destroyer? I cannot definitely remember about this.
Ordinary Seaman Kåre Vartdal ...
What did you do after the torpedoing? Went from the wheel and out on the wing where the 2nd officer gave orders about going into the boats.
Who were on the bridges at the same time as you during and after the torpedoing? The 2nd officer and the starboard and port look-out men.
What order did you receive after the torpedoing? Go into the boats, nothing else.
In which lifeboat did you leave the ship? In the motor boat.
Were you asked to go on board again? Yes, and I replied no.
Chief Officer Roar Borg ...
Did you keep the ship's log book? Yes.
Did you get it with you when you left the ship? No, it was lying in the chart room in its usual place.
When did you carry out the last boat drill and fire extinguishing practice? Boat drill before departure from Halifax and fire extinguishing practice at the beginning of January this year.
Was that entered in the log book? Yes.
Were fire hoses and extinguishing appliances ready for immediate use? Yes, ready in the chests and up in their places.
Did you consider it quite impracticable to attempt extinguishing before you left the ship? Yes, quite impracticable.
When you had come om board the British destroyer, did you consider it hopeless to return i order to save the ship? Yes, as the vessel was all on fire forward.
Was the vessel afloat when you left her? Yes.
What did you reply to the captain's question about going back to the ship? No, not without lifesaving appliances.
How long did the destroyer stay with the "FERM"? Until the next forenoon.
Did you give any orders about going into the boats and about the lowering of these? No, I was off duty.
What was done with the Admiralty papers? All those which we required on the bridge were lying there. The captain had the others in his care.
Boatswain Trygve Samuelsen ... was aft on the poop on the port side.
What fire extinguishing apparatuses were in readiness? The apparatuses on the bulkheads and the fire hoses.
What order did you receive? Order from the captain to go into the boats.
Where and when were boat drill and fire extinguishing practice last carried out? Boat drill before departure from Halifax. Do not remember the last fire extinguishing practice.
Did you order lifeboat to be lowered? No, order came from the forward part of the ship.
Did you make any attempt to extinguish the fire? No.
Did you receive any order to attempt fire extinguishing? No.
Who ordered you to leave the ship? The captain.
Were you asked by the captain to return to the "FERM"? Yes.
What did you reply? No.
Did you consider the vessel as lost although she was floating? Yes.
Delegate Erling Jansen ... was on the port side of the poop.
Did you receive any order to attempt fire extinguishing? No.
Who ordered you to leave the ship? As far as it goes, no one.
In which lifeboat did you leave the ship? In the port lifeboat.
Who ordered the setting adrift of the lifeboats after you had come on board the destroyer? As far as I know the order was from the destroyer.
Did you consider the "FERM" as lost? Yes.
Were you asked by the captain to return to the ship? Yes.
What did you reply? No.
Did you as delegate reply on behalf of all the ratings? No.
Whom of the crew went on board another vessel in order to try to bring her in to land.? A.B. Seaman Arnulf Andersen went on board another vessel, the "FRENCH COMBE".
Did he receive any remuneration for this? There was talk about getting extra payment for this. That vessel had been struck by the torpedo more towards amidship.
Were any more asked to go on board the other vessel? Yes, most of the A.B. Seamen and the firemen, English and Scottish. The English went on board.
As far as the witness remembers, Andersen was asked to go on board the other vessel before he was asked to go back to the "FERM".