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.

Date
August 22, 1940
Location
54 16 N, 23 08 V
Cause
Torpedert [av tysk ubåt]
Cargo
Ballast
Route
North Shields, Skottland - Sydney, Nova Scotia
Crew list
Komplett
Survived
7
Captured
0
Deceased
13 [13]
Missing
0
  • Abstract

    Date
    September 9, 1940
    Location
    Montreal
    Administrator
    Visekonsul Knut Lykke

    ...

    The master produced a report about the loss of the vessel which he had written on board the s.s. "Trident" the day after they had been picked up. When the ship was lost all her protocols and all papers were lost. ...

    ...

    The master further stated:- The convoy had been dispersed on the 20th in the afternoon, and thereafter the vessel kept the course which had been given by the Naval Control at Methil. It was dark when the explosion occurred. The moon, which was about 3/4, had come up half an hour earlier, but did not give light. Everything was dark on board, all port ligths and windows had been covered and all external doors had automatic switches. The master had not seen anything of the U.-boat before the explosion. The after part of the vessel sank in the course of a few seconds and there was no possibility of doing anything in order to try to help those of the crew who were aft in their cabins.

    Question 5.The lifeboats had been swung out in davits. There were two rafts, one on the gun deck - on the poop, and the other on the engine room skylight. The vessel had 2 lifeboats and motor boat amidship, which had all been swung out. They were all fully equipped according to the regulations.

    Question 16. Those who were saved lost all their personal effects on board.

    Question 17. The s/s "Trident", which picked up the survivors, ran the risk that she herself might be torpedoed by lying still and waiting for the lifeboat. She waited for about 3/4 of an hour from the time she saw the lifeboat.

    On being questioned as to whether the master had seen any of those missing in the water after the vessel had gone down, he replied that a great quantity of wreckage floated up, and those who were on the bottom of the upturned lifeboat and on the raft shouted out, but did not hear or see anything. After those who were saved had come on board the "Trident", the rafts from the "Keret" were seen, and the "Trident" steered right past them and through a great deal of wreckage, but there were no men to be seen. The master did not see any one else after the explosion than those who were saved.

    ...

    Appeared the 1st witness, Johan Flem, chief officer on the s.s. "Keret" since the 17/6-1940 ... The witness ... stated that he was lying in his bunk in his cabin amidship, on deck, on the starboard side, when the explosion occurred, he jumped out, took a lifesaving jacket and some papers, - pass-port and certificate - and ran out on deck towards the port side across the engine top in order to get to the port lifeboat where he belonged. In the passage across the engine top the witness met the 2nd engineer who came from his cabin in his underclothing in order to fetch his lifesaving jacket whcih was hanging there. The 2nd engineer said:- "We have surely been torpedoed." The witness said yes. He saw the 2nd engineer put on the lifesaving jacket, but he himself had by then got out. He then ran round and up on to the boat deck. There, the master was forward in the lifeboat in order to unhook the tackle. A Danish ordinary seaman, S. Dahl, hat cut the painter. The witness called out to the 2nd officer, who was standing by the after davit, that he should lower the boat into the water. The 2nd officer replied that the boat was in the water. The vessel had a list to port and had also sunk to some extent. The witness threw the lifesaving jacket and the papers into the lifeboat and jumped in after. Besides the witness, the captain, the 2nd officer, helmsman Vedvik and ordinary seaman Dahl were in the boat. Then the boat capsized in towards the ship which had by then sunk to amidship and the witness fell into the water. He swam some strokes and got up on to the raft which had floated up from the engine room skylight. Dahl was together with the witness on the raft. Only some seconds after the witness had come up on the raft the vessel sank right down with the stem almost perpendicular. The raft was 6 - 10 metres from the stem when it disappeared. The witness neither saw nor heard any one in the water. He shouted hello - hello - are there any more? but no one replied. He could not then see the lifeboat. It was quite dark, somewhat cloudy. Not one minute after the witness had come up on a raft, a submarine passed at good speed with some men on the fore deck as well as in the tower, about 4 metres away between that raft and another raft with one man. From the U-boat there was called out in German, in the opinion of the witness in fluent German, a question as to which vessel it was. The witness replied:- "Keret" Norwegisch" ("Keret" Norwegian) and shouted:- "Bitte wollen Sie uns nicht helfen" (Won't you help us, please?), but the U-boat disappeared. Afterwards the two rafts came togehter and were fastened. A 1/4 of an hour after he had come on the raft the witness heard Captain Knudsen calling out. The witness then paddled towards the sound, but saw no boat and heard nothing further until somewhat later. Subsequently, those on the rafts and those on the bottom of the upturned lifeboat rowed towards each other. After a good 2 hours they came together. The witness made further statement in accordance with the log book report. The witness stated that the equipment on the rafts and in the lifeboat was excellent. Everything necessary was there and everything that could be wished for. On being questioned the witness stated that he had been trading a good deal on Germany and he was convinced that it was a native German who had called out from the U-boat.

    ...

    Appeared the 2nd witness, Nicolay Torp, 2nd officer and wireless operator on the s.s. "Keret" since the 27/9-1939 ... and stated:- The witness was on watch from 19 - 1.30 and was on the bridge at the moment of the collision. He had last looked at the radio at 19 o'clock. He looked towards aft when the explosion occurred, a mass of flames soon rose from the after deck according to the witness's impression between Nos. 3 and 4 hatches and the whole of the after deck which he could see was all in flames. He looked astern from the port companion ladder. The witness did not see the U-boat until later. After having warned the helmsman and the loo-out man, who was on the roof of the wheel house, the witness and the master ran down on to the boat deck to the port lifeboat. When the witness cme to the lifeboat the after deck was already under water, so there was no possibility of doing anything for the men aft. The witness did not see any of those who perished before he came into the water. When the witness came to the lifeboat, jr. ordinary seaman Vedvik and the captain were there. The lifeboat had been swung out. The witness knocked loose the slip hook and pin of the after tackle. The captain had knocked out the other slip hook. The lifeboat rested on the water as soon as the witness commenced to lower it. The witness then jumped into the lifeboat and cut the after painter. The jr. ordinary seaman asked for help to get his foot loose which had got jambed up under the davit as the ship had sunk quite deep, the witnes and the jr. ordinary seaman then jumped over board and swam away. He turned round and rested and saw the vessel go down perpendicularly. The witness heard the captain shout and swam towards the lifeboat. He came against a person who was completely lifeless and with foam at the mouth, the person in question was dressed. As the said person showed no sign of life the witness let him lie. A little further along in the direction of the lifeboat the witness met the cook who was lying on two hatches. Subsequently the witness got on to another hatch and swam down to the lifeboat where he got up on the keel. When he came up there he saw the U-boat pass. The cook shouted that he was going to let go of the hatches as there was something holding his legs. He asked the witness to come and help him and the witness borrowed the jr. ordinary seaman's lifesaving jacket and swam to the cook. The latter had got some jute sacking round his legs and the witness helped him to get this off and to get across on the bottom of the upturned lifeboat. The witness had picked up a rudder with which those on board the lifeboat paddled along down toward the raft which had snet up rockets. The witness made furhter statement in accordance with the log book report. On being questioned the witness stated that there was moon light at about 9 o'clock, but later it became overcast and quite dark. He is certain that there was no light to be seen on the ship.

    ...

    Appeared the 3rd witness, Einar Jamtø, A.B. Seaman on the "Keret" for 16 months ... and stated:-

    The witness, who had been on watch from 19 - 1.30, had had look-out watch, was relieved at 23 o'clock and then went aft to his cabin and listened to the wireless. 5 minutes afterwards he heard a terrific noise and the light went out at the same time. The witness was flung over the door coaming, but caught hold of the bunks to which he held fast. There was so much shaking that he thought the cabin was going to shake to pieces and everything loose was thrown about. The witness got his eyes full of soot, no doubt from the stove pipes. The witness felt that the vessel was sinking and went up on deck up to which the water had come by then. The witness went up and sat on the raft on the gun deck and a moment afterwards it floated off. Very soon afterwards the vessel rose up on end and sank. Shortly afterwards a submarine with men on deck passed by. From thise there was called out something which sounded like "vatt skip" (What ship), but the witness is not exactly sure as to what was shouted, or in what language, as he was rather far away. Somewhat later the witness came with the raft together with the other raft on which were the chief officer and ordinary seaman Dahl.

    The witness was alone in the cabin when the explosion occurred and he neither saw nor heard any one else until he came to the other raft.

    ...

    Appeared the 4th witness, Gunmund K. Kristiansen, cook on the "Keret" for 2 1/2 years ... and stated:-

    The witness had gone to bed and was lying reading when the explosion occurred. He ran out and saw steam coming up from the engine. The chief engineer, who had his cabin nearer to the outer door, was in front of the witness in the passage and the witness, on coming out through the door, saw that he cought hold of the railings outside. The deck was then slanting heavily and the chief engineer fell down against the railings with the back first. Masses of smoke were then coming up from the holds, the hatches had been burst open, and the witness did not see any more of the chief engineer, but had the impression that he fell down into the No. 3 hatch. The witness thereupon ran over to the starboard side and climbed from the rail up on to the boat deck and took a lifebelt from the lifebelt chest. There came the 2nd engineer and the donkeyman. The donkeyman got hold of a lifebelt, but not so the 2nd engineer. The latter called out that they must try to get the boat out for which there was no time and the 2 others ran over to the port side, around under the bridge. This was the last that the witness saw of them. The vessel was then lying so heavily down by the stern that the witness had to hold fast, a heavy sea then came and threw the witness in under the navigation bridge and on to the fore deck. He was under water until he came to the rigging of the fore mast and sustained som cuts on the right thigh. He kicked clear of the rigging and swam continuously under water until he got clear of the ship. When the witness came to the surface he saw the stem and the top of the fore mast disappearing under the water. He laid himself on a hatch and swam for a bit and was alongside the 2nd officer when he caught sight of a submarine which was passig close by. From this there was called out "What ship", probably not more. In the tower there was one man standing with a rifle and 4 -5 others. The witness made statement in accordance with the log book report.

    ...

    Appeared the 5th witness, Olaf Vedvik, jr. ordinary seaman on the "Keret" since the 16th March 1940 ... and stated that he was at the wheel when the explosion occurred. He gave a report about the happenings in comp.lete conformity with the evidence of the 2nd witness and withe the log book report.

    ...

    Appeared the 6th witness, Svend Dahl, ordinary seaman on the "Kret" since the 9/8/40 ... and stated:-

    The witness was on the look-out on the top deck, on the roof of the wheel house, when the explosion occurred. He was standing looking ahead and turned when he heard the hollow report and saw a cloud of smoke rise over the after deck. He then jumped down on to the boat deck and up into the lifeboat and out the painter forward. When the lifeboat capsized he fell into the water and got up on to the raft which had floated clear just by. The chief officer came up on it at the same time. After the vessel had sunk a submarine came by with good speed and on board there some one calle dout "What ship". The witness did not hear anything else from the U-boat. Those on the raft sent up light signals for the lifeboat and were almost continuously calling out in order to guide possible swimmers. The witness further made statement in conformity with that of the 1st witness and the log book report.

    ...