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.

July 21, 1941
70 nautiske mil nordøst for Madeira
Torpedert [av italiensk ubåt]
Trinidad - Gibraltar
Crew list
5 [5]
  • Abstract

    September 11, 1941
    Konsul J. Gregg


    Appeared Captain Kristoffer Sæbø ...

    During the voyage the vessel was fully manned with a crew of 38 men, including the master, of whom 33 were Norwegians.

    No passengers or any one else on board besides the crew.

    On departure from Trinidad the vessel was in every respect in completely seaworthy condition for the voyage.

    The vessel sank on the 21st July this year, about 70 nautical miles north-east of Madeira, after torpedo attack.

    Nothing was saved of the crew's clothes and effects.

    All prescribed lifesaving equipment was available and in the prescribed order and in good condition.

    Captain Sæbø stated that the deck and engine room log books had been kept as usual during the voyage.

    The log books went down with the ship, likewise all the ship's papers. The crew's papers had been distributed.

    Captain Sæbø produced a copy of report about the casualty. The report had been written out at Las Palmas on the 20th July.


    Captain Sæbø adds to the reoprt that at the time when the report was written down at Las Palmas they were not sure whether 4 og 5 had lost their lives.

    The report was read out and thereafter approved by Captain Sæbø as correct.

    The report was gone through with the captain who, on being examined, stated:-

    The captain, himself, like the others on board, is of the belief that the submarine, with which they collided or came in contact, must have been damaged if it was a submarine at all which they had struck. The vessel was proceeding at full speed. The vessel scrubbed or scraped over something.

    The vessel mentioned in the report was, at the time she was seen, about 8 nautical miles off. She was a steamer of 6 to 7000 tons with a small well right aft and a small well right forward and a long amidship deck. The funnel was yellow with a black top.

    After having turned they proceeded westward for 1 1/2 hours.

    On being examined, the captain remarked that some mishap or other must have occurred, but no mistake on the part of the ship. The captain stated with certainty that in accordance with safe observations it was quite certain that the vessel was at the meeting place at 1200 o'clock (see the reprot) as well as at 1730 o'clock (see the report). The observations had been taken by himself and by the 2nd officer.

    On being questioned, the captain stated that telegraph watch throughout the 24 hours was not practicable. There was only 2nd officer (& wireless operator) Honningsvaag on board who understood the wireless telegraph.

    The captain remarked: If there had been any alteration in the decision with regard to meeting place or time of meeting then the guardship which we met would presumably have told us about it.

    The gun was placed aft. Gun watch was kept on board from 4 o'clock in the morning. Namely, by Leif Sandvik who was trained. When, during the day, Sandvik was off duty for a while, an A.B. Seaman would be on watch. The 3rd officer wastrained, but did not do gun watch.

    The captain last saw Sandvik when Sandvik came on the bridge and reported that he could not see any longer. I was then so dark that we could not discern anything further away than perhaps 50 metres. Sandvik was standing on the bridge for about 10 minutes. He left the bridge when they heard the hum of the motor (at 1950 o'clock). After that the captain did not see him any more. Several heard the hum of the motor. They had no deifinite opinion as to what it was.

    The three last torpedoes came after they had got into the lifeboats and those three were fired from one submarine. In any case 2 of these torpedoes were fired whilst the U-boat was in a surface position. They saw that from the motor lifeboat. The U-boat twise passed it close by. She went round the ship twice with very great speed.

    The three first torpedoes came in quick succession. From the first until the last torpedo probably 30 to 40 minutes elapsed. Why the second did not hit was due to the vessel making a swing at the time.

    After the last torpedo somebody saw that the funnel fell down.

    It was 3rd officer Kaare Henriksen who saw the first torpedo from the birdge. The captain saw the two that followed.

    After the third torpedo the captain rang stop to the engine which was then going at full speed, about 10 miles, and the captein rang a bell as signal to to to the boats. The helm was lying hard a port and remained lying hard a port.

    S.O.S. with report about having been torpedoed and giving the position was sent out by the 2nd officer.

    It was found that the engine was not at once stopped when the telegraph was put over. In that connection third engineer Bjarne Thorsen (now at Casablanca) was sent aft by the captain and the 2nd officer. The engine was stopped by motorman Henry Vidsten (now on the way to England) who was aft and was ordered to do so by Thorsen. The captain does not know the reason why the engine was not stoppet. (There was telemotor steering gear).

    When, up on the bridge, the captain heard and saw the starboard lifeboat amidship being lowered, the captain shouted that they should stop the lowering until the speed had been lost. Later, the captain heard someone shouting that the boat was gone (the mentioned lifeboat).

    Under the supervision of the 3rd officer, the starboard lifeboat amidship was lowered by third engineer Bjarne Thorsen and carpenter Timmermann (now at Curacao). The captain did not see anything of that lifeboat. According to what the captain has heard the reason why the four men got into the water was that the painter had been cut by those who were in the boat. As the boat had by then been lowered too far down, a sea came and knocked up under the boat in such a way that the foreward tackle became unhooced. The result was that the boat sheered and was filled with water and in some way or another the after tackle got loose.

    The captain has been told by motorman Stølaas that one of the tackles on the starboard lifeboat aft was unfastened in such a way that the boat became hanging by one tackle. Some of the crew of the port lifeboat aft, namely the chief officer and the botaswain, had helped with the lifting up again of the after starboard boat. The captain does not know who was directing the lowering nor those who were lowering.

    The captain has been told by A.B. Seaman Bjørnvik that he saw the 4 menn fall out of the amidship starboard boat. Bjørnvik, himself, was in the boat, but jumped out and got up the ladder. Those 4 were chief engineer Rørvik, steward Waage, A.B. Seaman Sandvik and jr. ordinary seaman Okman. Of these, the following belonged to the starboard lifeboat aft:- Rørvik, Sandvik and Bjørnvik. It has been stated by Timmermann that chief engineer Rørvik had a lifesaving suit on as well as lifesaving jacet. Waage and Okman belonged to the starboard amidship boat.

    Two men were clinging to the boat, nameliy ordinary seaman Meland and A.B. Seaman Claessens. As the boat went past the after starboard lifeboat vain attempts were made by the latter to get hold of those two men. The boat went past and disappeared in the dark and was not seen afterwards. These two men have somehow managed to get to Tenerife and are now at Liverpool.

    The motor lifeboat (amidship on port side) belonged to the captain, the starboard amidship lifeboat belonged to the 3rd officer, the port lifeboat aft belonged to the chief officer, the starboard lifeboat aft belonged to the 2nd officer.

    The captain went from the bridge to the motor lifeboat which they were occupied with lowering. The lowering of that boat went smoothly.

    With regard to engineer assistant Ellingsen, the captain remarked that it is plossible that Ellingsen may have gone over board from the starboard lifeboat aft when that lifeboat was lowered. His papers, i.e. articles and passport, not account book, were ound in the after starboard lifeboat. One of the motormen handed the papers to the captain when they met the Portuguese trawler.

    Ellingsen was on watch. His cabin was on the starboard side aft. He belonged to the starboard lifeboat aft.

    The captain has been told by motorman Stolaas (now on the way to England) that he saw Ellingsen over by the starboard lifeboat aft. Stolaas was of opinion that Ellingsen might have gone to the port lifeboat aft, which got in to Casablanca. But in a telegram, which Nortrahip has just received from Casablanca, Ellingsen is not mentioned among those who arrived there. The captain remarked that it was probably difficult to discern who was who in the dark.

    Just as the lifeboats had got way from the vessel and was by the after part of the ship, the captain heard a shout from the sea. The others in the motor lifeboat also heard the shout. That shout had likewise been heard by those in the after starboard lifeboat which was lying close by. No one had heard more than one shot. It was a cry of distress. It was not repeated. They shouted back several times in order, if possible, to get a reply and to have something to row by.

    No lights were seen from the lifesaving rafts whcih were not seen at all.

    After the torpedoing was over the U-boat was showing a steady light which lit up for a little while, not so much as a quarter of an hour.

    All those missing were in good health.

    Both boats remained lying throughout the night. For a while, during the night, there was a strong smell of oil. In the morning they saw nothing. There was then no sign of any oil.

    It was only in the morning that they managed to start the motor. The motor would not start in the evening.

    They steered course for Gibraltar.


    Both the lifeboats had spirit compasses and it was found that these compasses were in order.

    There were no charts in the lifeboat.

    The boats were found to be tight. All equipment and all provisions were found to be there and in order.

    There were 40 lifesaving jackets on board. They had been obtained from Bergen when the vessel left Haugesund in September 1939. Cannot remember the mark, but the captain thinks there was a mark on them. The lifesaving jackets were of kapok. None of them had had any repair. The lifesaving jackets were in good order and condition. No examination or testing of same had been made. None were lying in chests. They had been distributed so that each and all had his own belt. Everybody in the motor lifeboat and in the after starboard lifeboat had brought his lifesaving jacket. The jackets had no whistle or electric light.

    Lifesaving suits had been obtained at Halifax in May this year, 39 in all. They had been distributed. No one in the motor lifeboat or in the after starboard lifeboat had brought lifesaving suit.

    There was a lifesaving raft for 20 men on the boat deck aft and one raft for 20 men on the fore deck, the latter on a stand which had been made at a shipyard at Glasgow in May - June this year. The rafts had been obtained at Haugesund just before departure in September 1939 and had been passed by the Control there. They were fitted with lights which lit automatically.

    Boat muster had been held regularly and been entered in the log book. The last one 8 days previously. Boat drill including launching and rowing practice had the last time been held at Freetown in April this year and had been entered in the log book. Boat drill including the swinging out of the boats was last carried out at Trinidad and previous to that every time in harbour. The vessel was at Curacao from the 22nd until the 25th April, proceeded from there to Greenock with arrival at that port on the 23rdMay. Left Greenock on one of the first days in June for Trinidad with arrival there on the 30th June and left there on the 5th July.

    All 14 men went from Las Palmas to Freetown, from where Rudolf Otten went to Cape Town, Cornelius Timmernann and John Amrand to Curacao. Two were signed on on board the Norwegian vessel "Lidbard", namely Arne Houge and Anders Stendal. The following are on the way from Freetown to England:-

    2nd Officer Honningsvaag

    3rd Officer Henriksen

    A.B. Seaman Bjørnsevik

    Motorman Stølaas

    Motorman Hvidsten

    Greaser Bendiksen

    Engine Boy Sunde

    Gelley Boy Johannesen.

    As mentioned, the following have arrived at Liverpol from Tenerife:-

    A.B. Seaman Claassens

    Ordinary Seaman Meland.


    The lifebelts on board had been obtained before he came on board 7 years ago. They were all placed in one chest on the amidship deck and in two chests on the boat deck aft. They were not fitted with electric light. Putting them on was prctised every time boat drill was carried out.

    On being questioned, the captain stated that he does not remember having received Nortraship's circular No. 24 for captains. ...

    Forklaring i London angående senkningen av M/T "IDA KNUDSEN"


    Fremstod Torkel Bjørnevik ...

    Han hadde vakt til klokken 4 ettermiddag den 21/7/41. Klokken 7.30 ble alle mann beordret på dekk, idet man på broen hadde hørt en mistenkelig lyd. Alle hadde livvester og fullt utstyr på. Vidnet hørte, mens han oppholdt seg på fordekket, en lyd som av dieselmotorer, og herom ga han maskinmester og 3dje maskinist beskjed. Da han deretter gikk midtskips, hørte han 3dje styrmann rope fra broen at torpedoen kom. Den traff på babord side ved nr. 7 centertank. Dekket på babord side ble brukket opp til midtskips. Klokken var 8.10.

    Alle livbåter ble satt på vannet, også motorlivbåten. Vidnet opplyser at alle som var på midtdekket kom i båtene, men den første båt som sattes på vannet kantret. Der var 7 mann ombord i denne, og vidnet var den eneste av disse som kom seg ombord i skipet igjen. Han så båten ble slitt løs og forsvant akterover med kjølen i været.

    De 6 andre som oppholdt seg i denne båt:

    1ste maskinist Rørvik

    stuert John Vaage

    Kanonskytter Leif Sandvik

    Jungmann Arne Okmann

    Lettmatros Osmund Mæland

    Matros Jan Claesen

    Av disse ble lettmatros Mæland og sydafrikaneren Jan Clasesen, etter hva vidnet senere ble meddelt, funnet i Atlanteren og opptatt av en engelsk båt.

    Vidnet kom seg opp på midtskipet igjen, og var med på å sette ut den annen livbåt (motorbåten). Den kom vel på vannet. Da vidnet var opptatt med å låre båten, føltes det plutselig som om m/t "Ida Knudsen" støtte på et skjær. Det var et merkbart støt.

    I motorlivbåten var foruten vidnet, skipets fører Kristoffer Sæbø, 2nen og 3dje styrmann og tømmermann Cornelius Timmermann (hollandsk).

    En rodde rundt for å søke etter dem som var fallt i sjøen, men enhørte eller så intet. Det var helt mørkt. Vidnet så senere de to livbåter akter bli låret, og alt gikk tilsynelatende bra.

    Vidnets båt var nettopp kommet seg vekk fra skipet, da m/t "Ida Knudsen" igjen ble rammet av en torpedo på babord side midtskips. Det var circa 10 minutter etter den første eksplosjon. Mens vidnets båt søkte rundt skipet etter mannskapene fra den kantrede båt, ramtes skipet av en torpedo nr. 3, denne gang så det ut til å være på styrbord side. En fjerde torpedo traff akterut, og skipet gikk ned momentant. Klokken kunne da være 9.15 til 9.30.

    Vidnets båt fikk kontakt med styrbord livbåt akter, og tok den på slep. Begge ble tatt opp 4 dager senere av en portugisisk fiskebåt, "Altaire" av Lisboa. Den andre båt forsvant i mørket. Vidnet kunne se at den kom seg klar av skipet.

    Vidnet mener at årsaken til at den første båt kapseiste, var at fanglinen forut må være blitt kappet i forvirringen.

    På spørsmål av Nortraships representant opplyser vidnet at utstyret var i førsteklasses orden. Der førtes ikke lanterner. En så lyskastere fra to undervannsbåter over åstedet. Man ble til circa klokken 3-4 morgen før man seilte vekk. Ombord i den manglende båt var der mange dyktige sjøfolk.