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CONVOY HX 245 - Page 2

Commodore Hubbard's Report on Collision between Empire Ibex & Empire Macalpine


Misc. reports on smoke problems from Trojan Star

Received from Roger Griffiths - His source: Public Records Office, Kew.

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At 17:20 on the 1st July when the Empire Macalpine was landing A/C patrol she collided with No. 68, the Empire Ibex. The carrier was seen after crossing from near the 9th column to pass nearly at right angles through the 7th column and then proceeded in towards the 6th column heading between No.'s 67 and 68. Shortly before the carrier crossed the 6th column, No. 68 was seen to swing about 4 points to starboard. The A/C landed shortly after the carrier had passed midway between the 7th and 6th columns and almost simultaneously the "No landing" signal was made from the carrier. When crossing the line of the 6th column it appeared as if the carrier sheered about 2 points to port and the port bow of the carrier appeared to strike No. 68 abaft the middle line on the port side. The inclination was about 30° leading aft on No. 68. Both ships sustained damage that of the Empire Ibex being serious. Her No. 4 Hold started to fill rapidly and she dropped astern. R/S Perth was ordered to stand by and HMS Nene detached to screen the ships. Empire Ibex was subsequently abandoned at 00:10Z/2/7 in a sinking condition in 53 30N 36 20W, her Master and crew being taken aboard R/S Perth. There were no casualties.

Empire Macalpine reported at 10:30 on the 2nd July that she was making water in No. 1 Hold and was only able to fly off A/C in an emergency.

The following was received from E.G. 5 at 08:10/4/7 via HMS Kootenay - wreck sank at 08:30Z/3 July in position 53 36N 36 16W. A signal was subsequently made to the effect that when landing and flying off A/C the carrier was not to attempt to pass between ships in column. Prior to this accident the Empire Macalpine which seemed to have a very small turning circle, successfully carried out the operation between columns 7 and 9. It is however suggested that orders be issued emphasising the risk run when carriers attempt to pass through or approach close to ships in column with appearance of crossing vessels.

Message in P/L - on the 1st July at 09:54P when in 52 33N 38 04W the following was received in P/L on 2410 kcs from unknown station, strength of signal R 4 - quote - Looks like another H.X. convoy on its way out - unquote. W/T office reported voice had a Canadian accent. Message possibly came from land based A/C.

Smoke Problems from Trojan Star (Vice Commodore).

Captain C. R. Berg, Master of the U.S.A. tanker Southern Sun (104) and Captain J. Morthensen, Master of the Norwegian tanker O. B. Sørensen (105) both report having seen a considerable amount of oil on the water day and night, all the way across the Atlantic, and also floating rubbish at times; they considered the oil to be too much to be caused by a ship pumping out bilges or by a leaking tanker.

Captain Hopkins, Master of the tanker Geo W. McKnight (102) reports that both the oil and rubbish emanated from Trojan Star (101) and confirms the statement of the other two Masters that there was too much oil to have come from pumping out bilges.

The officers of Geo W. McKnight confirm the above and state that Athelregent (92), Bralanta (93) and Southern Sun (104), all made signals to Trojan Star to cease throwing floatable rubbish overboard.

Signed S. S. Simner, Captain R.N.R., N.C.S.O. Avonmouth

Z E. Lynes of the Convoy Section (MoWT) requests in a handwritten note dated July 20-1943 that this may be investigated, and "would be glad to know the results".

The general manager of The Blue Star Line subsequently replied as follows for the attention of Sir George Peat, Ministry of War Transport, Liner Division, London on July 23 (erroneously heading the letter Tudor Star):

"With reference to your letter of the 20th instant asking for explanation in connection witht the alleged discharge of oil and rubbish from the above vessel when in convoy, we have taken this up with the Master and with the Chief Engineer who, while expressing regret that any complaint of this nature should be made, state that to the best of their knowledge the oil came only from the bilges, and that as soon as the Captain received a signal from one of the other vessels regarding this oil, he warned the Chief Engineer, and is of opinion that suitable improvement took place during the second part of the voyage. He adds that long hours of daylight made it very difficult to get rid of this bilge water during the hours of darkness which at that time of the year lasted only a few hours.

We have issued very strong instructions to the officers and engineers on this ship that in future complaints of a similar nature will be severely dealt with".

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