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.
Captain Arthur Svensen appeared ...
The Captain referred to his log-book and extract from same dated 4th August 1943, which he affirmed was a correct statement of what had happened.
The ship had onboard a cargo of about 10.690 tons Admiralty fueloil.
The ship was tied up at buoys inside the Admiralty Harbour until about 1900 hours on the 3rd August, when the ship was shifted by an Admiralty Pilot through the Southern Entrance. Outside the entrance the Admiralty Pilot was replaced by a Bay Pilot who said he had received orders to anchor the ship on the far side of the Bay.
At about 1940 hours the Pilot stated that the ship was in 25 Fathoms of water and the ship was anchored by the Starboard anchor and 90 fathoms of chain. The ship was about half a mile from the Spanish shore.
He stated that he ordered the Chief Officer to put good watches on deck and to darken the ship. He also ordered the ship to be ready to sail at 0445 on the morning of the 4th August.
At abouat 0410 hours, on the 4th August everyone was shaken by a tremendous explosion. He rushed out on deck, he could see nothing for fueloil which was descending like rain.
Loud cracks were heard from the amidships on the after deck.
As the oil ceased it soon became evident that the ship's back was broken, the deck sagging to such an extent that it appeared that the ship might break i two at any moment.
He gave orders for all hands to get into the lifeboats which were launched, and to keep near the ship until daylight.
They were taken out of the lifeboat (which was damaged and leaky) and taken on to a British patrol boat which went to another ship close by. They were just sending a diver down to examine this ship for contact or limpet mines when she also blew up, a piece of iron falling through the roof of the deck house and severely injuring the the coxswain of that ship.
The patrol boat then went to the shore to land the injured man and they were taken to the Captain of the Port's Office.
Shortly after this they were taken back to the ship which was then in tow in order to beach her, as it was seen that the ship was practically cut in two by an explosion which broke her back under No. 6 tank.
Ship was beached in about 36 feet of water shortly after noon.
--- he is of opinon that the explosion was due to enemy action as the British Government diver found clamps for securing wire to the bilge keels and pieces of metal believed to be from enemy bomb containers having been thrown up by the explosion were found on the deck.
There was an Italian in the patrol boat who had been taken from the water.
FIRST WITNESS, Chief Engineer GUNNAR FOSS, who declared that he had been Chief Engineer of the "THORSHØVDI" for four months. He referred to the extract of the log dated 4th August, 1943 signed by Captain Arthur Svensen which he affirmed was correct in every particular.
He was in bed about 0400 hours on the 4th August when he was wakened by a very loud explosion. He went to the engine room and closed all oil cooks and steam valvers on boiler.
He went on deck and reported to the Captain who was amidships looking at the piled up wreckage.
The Captain ordered all to go to the lifeboats, where he stayed until daylight and he went on board again to get up steam and start the generators.
The ship was beached about noon by a tug. He had no doubt that the explosion below No. 6 tank was caused by enemy action and which practitally cut the ship in half.
The machinery in the engine room so far does not appear to have been affected by the explosion, all is in good working order. He believes the explosion occurred through enemy action.
Thereupon appeared as:- SECOND WITNESS, SECOND OFFICER FINN ANDERSEN, who declared that he had served on the "THORSHØVDI" for nearly four years as Second Officer.
He aws asleep in his room when the explosion occurred about 0410 hours on 4th August, he went out on deck, it was all dark and oil was still falling down. He could see very little although he had his torch. He went in to his room for his lifebelt, he could not go aft owing to the wrackage piled up on both sides of the No. 6 tank.
The ship was sagging in No. 6 breaking in half, the Master ordered him to lower a lifeboat and he got into it and he told the crew aft also to get into lifeboats.
He went with the Captain in the British motor patrol boat, on their way in to shore they met a tug going to "THORSHØVDI" and went back to the ship in her. He let go the anchor under orders to enable her to be towed to the beach nearest Gibraltar.
The "THORSHØVDI" was beached shortly after noon. He was quite certain that the explosion must have been caused by enemy action.
The ship broke after the explosion in the way of No. 6 tank on account of the water coming in to the empty tanks.