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Manager: Th. Brøvig, Farsund
Delivered from Moss Værft & Dokk, Moss, Norway (66) in Apr.-1937 as Bennestvet to Th. Brøvig, Farsund. 304.7' x 47.7' x 18.5', 3 cyl. Compound, 231 nhp.
Captain: Olaf Nøstdahl.
Bennestvet was in service to the Gulf of Mexico, West Indies and the U.S. east coast, and was in New York when the news of the German invasion of Norway was received on Apr. 9-1940 (as can be seen when going to Page 1 above, she left that day for Philadelphia). Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2 (it'll be noticed, that she had quite a long stay at St. John's, N.F. at the beginning of that year). She was later placed in service between New Orleans and Panama with war materials. Page 3 shows a long stay in New Orleans early in 1943.
Bennestvet was on her way from New Orleans to Cristobal with war stores (trucks, tanks, fuel, alcohol, cement, steel), having left New Orleans on June 8-1942 (see Page 3), and had almost reached her destination on June 15 when she was hit by a torpedo from U-172 (Emmermann) in No. 3 hold on the port side. There was an explosion in the oil tank, her deck cargo fell down, she broke in the middle and sank in less than a minute, position 10 47N 82 12W. The captain and 11 others died, including all the officers except for the chief engineer. All those who were on deck amidships were believed to have been killed by the deck cargo.
There was no time to launch lifeboats, so 13 men jumped overboard and managed to get on 2 rafts. The U-boat came up and asked the usual questions (what ship, destination etc.) and whether they were in need of food, then handed them two loaves of bread. The commander wanted to shake hands with them, but this was refused. Upon asking what their position was, they were told they were about 120 n. miles from nearest land. After 1 1/2 days they were spotted by aircraft, then rescued by PC 458 and landed at Cristobal on June 18.
The maritime hearings were held in New York on July 6-1942 with the 1st engineer (in his cabin when the torpedo struck), the carpenter (who had been aft), and Able Seaman Gundersen (on gun duty) appearing. The latter had initially been pulled down with the suction as the ship sank.
For info, U-172 was also responsible for the attack on Thorstrand in 1943 - follow the link for details. The U-boat was also sunk that year - ref. link at the end of this page.
The steward's brother Arthur had died when Belize was sunk earlier that year.
Related external links:
Back to Bennestvet on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Norway had previously had another Bennestvet, originally delivered as Harland in 1885 to owners in London, 1738 gt, became German Wilhelmine in 1899, then Bennestvet for Brøvigs Rederi, Farsund in 1912. Sold for breaking up in 1923.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. others for cross checking info. - ref My sources.