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.
The Master, Leif Midthassel, brought to the consulate the ship's Deck log book and an extract of what had been entered there, which was compared with the log book and found to be correct. The master also brought with him a list of the crew.
The master ... stated verbally as follows-.
I have nothing to add or altor to what is stated in the Log Book except that the crew behaved very well and no one was injured or hurt.
I can give no explanation why the ship caught fire just before she went down.
As stated I was always in the closest touch with the escorting vessels.
Next appeared as first witness, first officer Arnold Abrahamsen, who stated verbally as follows -
I was on free watch on the morning of the 2nd March 1945 and was in my cabin about 9 a.m. when I heard a terrific explosion from the stern of the ship. I immediately ran on deck with the log books which I handed over to the Third Officer and then went to the boat deck to see that the boats were clear. On the instructions from the Captain I ordered all men to the boats, all went except the few mentioned in the log book. I then went aft to inspect the damage and saw first a big crack about one foot wide on both sides of the ship just aft of midship, from the gunwhale and as far down as I could see. I could not see the deck on account of the deck cargo. From over the stern I could see the propeller and rudder missing, but as the after deck was already on water level I could not see any hole. The ship was steadily sinking. No further explosion occurred. All the men were on deck except those working in the Engine room.
The Captain ordered all the water tight doors to be closed as far as that was possible and I myself closed two as well as I could. I kept the ship's log book and have nothing further to add.
The appeared as second witness, Chief Engineer Rolf Nielsen who stated verbally as follows -
I was on watch on the morning of 2nd March 1945 and about 9 a.m.I was standing on deck just outside the Engine room and heard a heavy explosion coming from the stern. I ran down to the engine and stopped it. It only took me about three minutes and the water was by then rushing from the tunnel. There was also a big crack between the Engine room and No. 4 hold through which the water was pouring in, and when I came down there was about 8 to 10 feet of water in no. 4 hold. The water was steadily rising in the Engine room and stokehold and I should think both were filled in about an hous time.
The last I saw of the ship was the late afternoon when only about six or seven feet of the bow could be seen above the water. In my opinion it was quite impossible to save the ship.
I have read the extract of the log book and have nothing further to add to what is stated therein.
Next appeared as third witness, Third Officer Emil Pedersen, who sated verbally as follows -
I was on watch on the morning of 2nd March 1945, on the bridge, when about 9 o'clock a.m. I heard a heavy explosion from the stern and saw a water spout coming up. The first thing I did was to hoist the Norwegian Flag upside down according to instructions and then went down to the cabin for my life saving vest. I then went to my boat and with the other boats we drifted alongside the ship until about 11 o'clock a.m. when a destroyer ordered us away and half and hour later she came and picked us up. While drifting I saw a crack in the ship about one foot wide, slightly wider on the port than the starboard side. The ship was slowly sinking. When I had a look for the ship late at night she had disappeared. During the late afternoon I saw what remained of the ship above water was on fire but do not know how that fire started.
Last appeared as fourth witness, A.B. Jacob Baatnes, who stated verbally as follows -
I was on watch on the morning of the 2nd March 1945 at the wheel, and about 9 o'clock a.m. I heard a heavy explosion and felt the ship shaking and saw a spout of water coming up at the stern. As I had no life-belt on I went and fetched one from the bridge and went to my boat. When I noticed that the ship was still floating I went aft to fetch my papers but the cabin was in a bad state and the bunkers and other things were hurled together. Heavy smoke was coming from the stove so I could not save anything else and went back to the boat. From the boat we were taken onboard a destroyer and from there to a whale catcher.
I watched "NOVASLI" sinking all the time and saw her disappear, which I think was about 10 o'clock p.m.