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M/T Albert L. Ellsworth
Owner: Skibs A/S Alse
Built by Götaverken A/B, Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1937.
Captain: Thorvald Solheim.
In Admiralty service from 1941 (Royal Fleet Auxiliary).
Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on them.
Albert L. Ellsworth rescued the 34 survivors from the Norwegian Snestad on Febr. 12-1940 (this ship had been torpedoed and sunk by U-53 on Febr. 11 - follow the link for more details). The next day, at 01:55 hours on Febr. 13, U-50 (Bauer) fired 2 torpedoes at Albert L. Ellsworth in approx. position 60 59N 06 05W (south of Faroe Islands). The first exploded near her bow but did not hit and the second exploded a few yards beyond the ship.
What follows is an excerpt from my text on the page about Snestad, describing the attack on Albert L. Ellsworth by U-50:
"On Febr. 13, at 01:10 a shot was heard, followed by a shaking of the ship (referring to Albert L. Ellsworth), so all the lifeboats were launched. However, the ship still had quite a bit of speed so that the first boats left her side before all those on board had managed to get into them, with the result that 9 were left behind. They were able to launch a raft, then jumped overboard, but the ship still had such a great speed that 2 of Snestad's survivors, Jr. Ordinary Seaman Hans Aaserud and Deck Boy Peter Blix ended up so far away from the raft when they jumped overboard that they were unable to reach it and drowned. About 10 minutes after the first shot 2 flashes of light were seen with about 1 1/2 minute between them, the last one appearing like a tremendous column of fire, smoke and water, and at the same time more shots were heard, then nothing further was heard or seen. The boats remained on the water until daylight and by 08:30 they had been taken aboard Albert L. Ellsworth again." She's said to have landed the survivors in Bergen, Norway, and according to A. Hague's Voyage Record above, she left Norway again on Febr. 28. (Uboat.net also has an account on this attack - external link).
From Page 1 of the archive documents, we learn that she was on her way from Gibraltar to Marseilles when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. Her 1941 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 2, which also shows some of her 1942 voyages (it'll be noticed that she had long stay in Boston; A. Hague says this was due to pump repairs).
In March-1942 she sailed in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 182. Acanthus, Eglantine, Kos XX, Potentilla and Rose are named among the escorts. She subsequently returned across the Atlantic in the westbound Convoy ON 87*, which departed Liverpool on Apr. 16 and dispersed on the 26th, Albert L. Ellsworth arriving Corpus Christi independently on May 8. Atlantic, Bralanta, Glittre, Havprins, Herbrand, Katy, Norheim, Norsol, Polartank, Skandinavia, Stiklestad and Vav are also listed. In June that year, we find her in the slow Sydney (C.B.)-U.K. Convoy SC 87, bound for Hvalfjord, Iceland. Along with Bjørkhaug, Borgholm Bruse Jarl, Evviva, Facto, Fidelio, Gezina, Hjalmar Wessel, Ingerfem, Lisbeth, Loke, Norjerv, Ragnhild, Selvik and Titanian (returned), she later headed back in the other direction with Convoy ON 112*, which left Liverpool on July 13 - Albert L. Ellsworth, however, joined this convoy from Iceland on July 17 and arrived Boston on July 30 - see Page 3.
In Oct.-1942 she's listed in Convoy SL 124, which left Freetown on Oct. 3 and arrived Liverpool on the 22nd (ref. external link provided in the Voyage Record above; the Norwegian Minister Wedel and Tarifa are also listed, as is Norlys, Panamanian flag, Norwegian managers and included under N on this site). Albert L. Ellsworth stopped at Belfast Lough on Oct. 21, leaving again on Oct. 24 in order to join the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 141*. This convoy, which also included Anna Odland, Aun, Fagerfjell, Fernmoor, Fernwood, Gallia, Herbrand, Jenny (returned), Ørnefjell, Pan Aruba, Reinholt, Salamis, Samuel Bakke (Commodore Vessel), Skiensfjord and Trondheim, had originated in Liverpool on Oct. 24 and arrived New York, her destination on that occasion, on Nov. 10.
The following month she made a voyage to Curacao, starting out from New York on Dec. 10 in Convoy NG 328, arrival Gitmo Dec. 18, continuing that same day with Convoy GAT 30, arriving Curacao on Dec. 23. She's also listed in Convoy OT 3S, which departed Curacao on Dec. 25 - again, see the external links within the Voyage Record above (other Norwegian ships are also named). According to Page 3, she arrived Trinidad on Dec. 27, then joined Convoy TM 1 on the 28th. As will be seen in the next paragraph, this voyage proved to be her last.
As already mentioned, Albert L. Ellsworth had joined Convoy TM 1 from Trinidad on Dec. 28-1942. She had a cargo of 11 473 tons fuel oil for Gibraltar from Curaçao, sailing in station 51. This convoy consisted of 9 tankers, escorted by a destroyer and 3 corvettes (follow the link to TM 1, as well as the external links at the bottom of this page for more details).
On Jan 3-1943 the Vice Commodore Ship British Vigilance was torpedoed, and because of her cargo of aviation fuel was immediately engulfed in flames. By January 8, 12 U-boats took part in the attack and Albert L. Ellsworth was hit on the port side in the vicinity of No. 6 tank by U-436 (Seibicke), 27 59N 28 50W. The captain, 1st mate, helmsman and 2 lookouts were on the bridge at the time and managed to get in the gig, together with the steward and saloon boy, who had also been amidships when the torpedo hit. The starboard boat was lost, but under the leadership of the 2nd and 3rd mates the remaining boats were quickly launched and all the people aft abandoned ship at the last minute. On duty in the engine room were the 2nd engineer and a mechanic ("motorman") who both managed to get up on deck, the 2nd engineer after having run back to stop the engine first - he ended up in the water but was picked up by a lifeboat shortly thereafter.
The British Commodore ship Oltenia II was hit a few seconds after the Norwegian ship and quickly sank - 20 of her crew were rescued by the men in Albert L. Ellsworth's lifeboats. Some of these rescued men died from their injuries; some were already dead when they were picked up. They were all taken on board the escorting British destroyer Havelock about an hour and a half later; by that time the Norwegian ship was on fire from bow to stern, but all 42 had survived. The next day the wreck of Albert L. Ellsworth was shelled and sunk by U-436 (position given in "Notraships Flåte" is 27 57N 28 50W, which corresponds with the captain's report).
On his own request Captain Solheim was transferred to another escort vessel on Jan. 11, together with other officers, in order to see if they could assist in salvage operations, but all they found was a large spot of oil and some debris. On arrival Gibraltar he was told by the Norwegian Consul that the other officers and crew of his ship had been taken directly from the escort vessel to a British transport and had left Gibraltar for the U.K.
The maritime hearings were held in Gibraltar on Jan 21-1943.
The Norwegian M/T Minister Wedel was torpedoed on Jan. 9 (follow the link for more details - no casualties), as was the British Empire Lytton. Also, the Panamanian Norvik, with a Norwegian captain and crew was torpedoed that day, most were saved. British Dominion was also sunk (Jan. 11), only 3 of the 50 men from the British crew were seen to have saved themselves. As mentioned above, British Vigilance and Oltenia II were also torpedoed. Out of the 9 ships that had left Trinidad on Dec. 28, only 2 now remained, namely the Norwegian Vanja (captain Arne Andreassen) and the British Cliona. Another destroyer and 2 corvettes were sent by the British to reinforce the escort. By then the ships had arrived within the reach of the aircraft patrols, so the attackers finally withdrew, and the 2 remaining tankers arrived Gibraltar on January 14-1943. No Norwegian seamen in this convoy lost their lives.
For info, U-436 had also been responsible for the attack on Frontenac the year before.
Crew List - No Casualties:
Norwegian, unless otherwise noted.
The steward's other ships are named on this external page.
Back to Albert L. Ellsworth on the "Ships starting with A" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc - ref My sources.