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.
Report concerning the war loss of the s.s. "RINDA" on the 30th May 1941
As the log book and the other ship's papers were lost with the vessel a report is given herewith of what occurred.
On the 30th May, at 21.40 o'clock, the "Rinda" was struck by 2 torpedoes, both of which penetrated into the after part of the ship. As both the No. 4 and the No. 5 hatches were blown open it is to be assumed that one of the torpedoes struck in way of the after part of No. 4 hold and the other one at the forward part of No. 5 hold. Both torpedoes were seen by the Chief Officer a moment before the explosions occurred, and it appeared as if they were only a few feet away from each other, one a little ahead ot the other. The vessel at once began to sink. The crew went to their respective boats which were hanging swung out and ready to be lowered i.w. No. 1 a motor boat on the starboard side on the lower bridge, and Nos. 3 and 5 on the boat deck, when the vessel suddenly capsized to port and sank. It is to be noted that the No. 2 boat, a small lifeboat on the port side on the lower bridge was not reckoned as one of the lifeboats as it did not have any air tanks, but all the same it was fitted out with similar equipment as the other boats. The No. 4 boat, a large lifeboat, 418 cubic feet was standing in its chocks on the boat deck, as a large motor lifeboat (the No. 5) was hanging swung out in the davits. The No. 4 boat was otherwise fully equipped and was lying completely free of lashings. The No. 3 boat, 481 cubic feet, was hanging swung out on the starboard side.
When the vessel capsized, both the starboard boats remained lying for a moment on the ship's side, but there was insufficient time to get the tackles unhooked as, after the capsizing, the vessel sank immediately. The No. 5 boat on the port side was jammed underneath its own davits, when the vessel capsized, and did not become free again. The men at the boats were either pulled eown or they were washed off the boat deck. The No. 4 boat go clear of the chocks and floated out with one man hanging on to the gunwale. This was therefore the only boat which got away.-
When the torpedoing occurred, the wireless operator sent out a distress signal, but as the vessel capsized he did not succeed in sending out the position. However this signal was intercepted by the Freetown Station which at once transmitted the signal to patrol vessels outside.
Various guesses have been made with regard to the time which elapsed from the moment the torpedoing occurred until the vessel sank, and it seems as if the majority are of the opinion it was about 2 minutes.
In addition to the lifeboats there were also 4 rafts onboard, 2 large and 2 small. The large ones were made in Norway and equipped in accordance with the regulations, and the small ones were made on board and consisted of 5 iron drums built into boarding. All these rafts were standing free, the 2 large ones on top of the awning on the boat deck, and the small ones aft, one on each side of the No. 5 hatch (on deck).
As previously mentioned, one man came out with the No. 4 boat. Later, more men got into it, and under the command of the Chief Officer they rowed around and picked up men who were lying and swimming or floating on wreckage. Some had also got up on to the rafts. When they had picked up those who were lying in the water, the men on the rafts were taken into the lifeboat, at the same time as water, bread and rockets wre removed from the rafts. A aystematic search was now commenced for possible survivors and, as it was moonlight and there was otherwise light from cotton bales on fire as well as lifebuoy lights we could see a good distance around. Unfortunately, no one else was found, and having searched for 3 to 4 hours we gave up hope of finding any more and set sail and steered for Freetown.
On a count being made it was found that there were 18 men in the lifeboat whilst 13 were missing. Of those who were saved 4 men were injured, namely fireman Thorvald Knudsen who had sustained a contusion on the back of his head, a large cut on his left lower arm as well as injury to hips, and fireman Bernt Gustavsen, who was burn on the face, on the arms, the chest, the back of his neck and on the feet, fireman Laurits Fosse, who had received back injuries (internal) and ordinary seaman Arnfin Rabbestølen whose left shoulder was injured. The injured were placed as comfortably as possible with life belts (jackets) and jerseys under them and oil-skins on top. There were oil skins and woolen jerseys in the boats, also 2 boat tarpaulins and the boat was well equipped with water, bread and tinned meat. The 2 tarpaulins were stretched out as a hood over the boat and gave good protection against rain and sun.
On Saturday the 31st May we were sighted by a large flying boat which circled many times round the lifeboat. It came back twice later on the same day.
On Sunday the 1st June, at 10 o'clock in the morning, we were taken onboard the H.M.S. "Pict" an armed trawler which was on patrol outside Freetown and had received orders to look out for us. The injured were treated and bandaged and the others received the very best of attention. At 21.00 o'clock the same day the injured were taken onboard the hospital ship "Oxfordshire" which was lying at Freetown. The others were accomodated in a school in the town.
When the torpedoing occurred the Chief Officer Nils Ugland, was on the bridge, A.B. Seaman Edgar Halvorsen at the wheel and A.B. Seaman Lyder Pettersen on the look-out. We were zig-zagging according to diagram No. 14. The engine room watch consisted of Chief Engineer Bernt Tollefsen, donkeyman Einar Vassengen and fireman Bernt Gustavsen.
Freetown, the 7th June 1941
Finn Thorbjørnsen, 2nd Officer
Nils Ugland, Chief Officer
Kristian Hotvedt, Donekyman
Chief officer Nils Ugland's statement
Friday the 30th May 1941
Came on watch at 20.00 o'clock relieving the 3rd officer. Steered N. 8o W. true and used the Zig-Zag diagram No. 14. At 21.40 o'clock I caught sight of two torpedoes coming straight towards the after part of the ship, but so close that before I could turn round and sound the alarm the explosions occurred. They did not seem to be particularly violent, but the vessel at once began to sink. The captain, who was on the lower bridge, ordered me down together with the helmsman and the loo-out man. The two last mentieoned went to the No. 1 boat on the starboard side on the lower bridge whilst I ran down into the office and fetched the log book which was lying ready packed in a hand bag. The vessel was now heeling over and I could not get out on the port side in consequence of twhich I went through the saloon and out on deck on the starboaard side. The vessel was now going down quickly with the after part of the ship, and I could not get across the amidship deck to my boat which was the No. 5 (on the port side). I got over the bulwarks and stood on the ship's side and handed the hand-bag to the steward who was sitting in the No. 1 boat, when the vessel suddenly capsized to port and sank. This happened so quickly that I did not get the opportunity to get clear of the ship's side, but was drawn down by the suction. When I came to the surface again I found myself along the wireless operator. We both had lifesaving jackets on. Whilst we were lying regaining our breath we caught sight of a lifeboat a fair distance away and then swam towards it. Having arrived there we were helped into it by 4 men who hadgot there before us. We now rowed about and picked up men who were lying in the water. The rafts, of which we had 4, had also got clear, and some men had got up on to these. Those who were on the rafts, however, we let stay there as they were saafe, and we only picked up those who were lying in the water. When we could not find any more we took those on the rafts into the boat and also took with us what there was of water, bread and rockets. We rowed about for something between 3 and 4 hours, but unfortunately found none of those who were missing. It was clear moonlight and some cotton bales and lifebuoy lights which were burning also helped to make it light.
The No. 4 boat, in which we were, was a large lifeboat of 418 cubic feet. It stood as a spare boat in its chocks, free from all lashings. Our motor boat was hanging in those davits which originally belonged to the No. 4 boat. We had 4 boats swung out and they were hanging free without any securings or lashings whatever. They had done so for the last 3 days as the weather was fine and there was no sea.
The rafts were also standing completely free. 2 large ones (Norwegian) were standing on the awning over the boat deck, and 2 smaller nes, which had been made on board, were standing on the after deck, one on each side of the No. 5 hatch.
Afrter consultation with the others we gave up the search as hopeless and set sail and steered for Freetown.
The boat was tight and otherwise in complete order, and was well provided with water, bread and tinned meat. In addition, we also had the stocks from the rafts. Further, there were oil-skins and woolen jerseys.
Saturday the 31st May
At 9.00 o'clock a flying boat came and circled round us for about an hour. It came again at about 12 o'clock, but proceeded inwards again.
Sunday the 1ste June
At about 8 o'clock the flying boat came again, and soon after we caught sight of the smoke from 2 vessels ahead. They were found to be 2 armed trawlers. We were taken on board the one which arrived first, the H.M.S "Pict", where those who were injured were treated. The rest of us got a bath and clean clothes and otherwise the best possible attention.
On the same day, at about 21 o'clock, the 4 injured were taken on board the hospital ship "Oxfordshire", staioned at Freetown. The rest of us were accommodated in a school in the town.
Freetown, the 7th June 1941
Nils Ugland, Chief Officer