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 Chief Officer brought to the Consulate the Deck Logbook and an extract of what he had entered there, which was compared with the logbook and found to be correct. He also broght with him a list of the crew.
... The Chief Officer stated verbally as follows -
I have been First Officer on the "Sjøfna" since the 16th July 1943. What is entered in the logbook is written by me from memory.
I was on watch on the bridge from midnight and onwards on the 23rd of November 1944. I was given the course which was to continue for approxiamately another two hours. To my knowledge all the instruments were in good order. The sea was heavy and visibility nil. I could not see the shore or any breakers, but suddenly just after one o'clock a.m. there were three heavy bumps on the ship and I thought we had struck a floating wreck. At the first bump I signalled "Stop" to the engine. I only understood we actually had stranded when the ship after the third bump turned round and remained firmly in that position. I immediately went around the ship with a lamp and discovered rocks all round, and breakers continuously coming over the ship. Soon after the weather lightened up and I could see the shore. We had a full cargo of china clay and the ship was not quite down to the loadline. Everything was in perfect condition on leaving Fowey.
The only reason I can give for going off the course is that there must have been some extraordinary current conditions, as w had taken the usual precautions.
I should like to mention that extraordinary good work was done by the men who rescued the crew. As far as I could see the men on the lifeboat did their work in an excellent way and in great danger to their lives.
The deviation of the compasses was controlled as often as possible.
I have nothing to add and also confirm what is stated in the extract of the logbook.
Then appeared as second witness, Chief Engineer Nils Jorland, who stated verbally as follows -
I have been on board the "SJØFNA" as Chief Engineer since August this year.
The engine was in perfect condition. I was on the first watch from midnight on the 23rd November. About one o'clock a.m. I heard a bump and "full stop" was signalled from the bridge. The bump was followed by others. I saw water rising in the stokehold and later in the engine room. I have heard the extract of the logbook read out and have no remarks to make.
I should say the rescue work was done in an excellent way and we were all looked after very well.
When I left the scene the ship was still there and as far as I could see she was firmly stuck on the rocks.
Next appeared as third witness Ordinary Seaman Trygve Vangsnes, who stated verbally as follows -
I have been a member of the crew of s.s. "SJØFNA" since June this year. I have heard the extract of the logbook read out and have no remarks to make.
I was on watch as a wathchman on the bridge from midnight and onwards on the 23rd November and took over the wheel at one o'clock a.m. It was absolutely dark and I had no idea at all that we were actually close to the coast. I was given a course when I took over but soon afterwards I felt a bump and though we had struck a floating wreck, but the bump was followed by more and heavier ones and I understood we had struck firm rocks. I could still see nothing of the shore.
Otherwise I have nothing to add except that I was hauled on board the lifeboat and would like to state that the men did excellent work of seamanship.
Last appeared as fourth witness - Matros Georg Gulliksen, who stated verbally as follows
I have been on board the s.s. "SJØFNA" since September 1942.
I have heard the extract of the logbook read out and have no comments to make.
I was on watch from midnight and onwards on the 23rd november. I was given the course which I kept until I was relieved just before one o'clock a.m. To my knowledge the compasses have been adjusted and controlled in the usual way and I have never discovered anything wrong during the time I have been on board the ship.
I cannot understand why we were out of our position excapt that the current must have been stronger than we anticipated.
It was pitch dark and raining as well as heavy sea. The whole foredeck was emerged under one braker about three minutes before we grounded. After I was relieved from the wheel I remained on the bridge as lookout man. I had no feeling of being close to the shore when I felt a bump and though we had struck a floating wreck but when the Mate ordered "Stop" in the engine and went to fetch the Captain I realised that the ship was on firm ground. The Captain immediately ordered signals to be sent and preparations made for saving the crew which at once was done. We had one boat out, that was immediately smashed and broken to pieces against the ships side so it was impossible to attempt launching any more boats. We all had lifebelts on. We could only wait for daylight and for help from ashore.
Everything on board was quiet and orderly.
The men who saved us did excellent work and only when we were ashore could I realise how dangerous the work actually was. We were very well looked after in every respect.
As Expert was called Captain A.M. Fredhjem who had no furhter questions to make.