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M/T Britannia
Updated March 25-2013

To Britannia on the "Ships starting with B" page.

Source: Bjørn Pedersen's collection.
The Australian War Memorial has another picture (external links).

Manager: The Texas Company (Norway) A/S, Oslo. This company was controlled by The Texas Co., US, and its ships managed by Haakon Chr. Mathiesen, Oslo.
9977 gt, 5801 net, 14 250 tdwt.
Dimensions: 503.8' x 67.4' x 34.3'.
Machinery: Two 8 cyl. 2T single acting DM (MAN, Augsburg), 5100 bhp.
Call Sign: LKDK.

Delivered on March 10-1939 from Deutsche Werft A/G, Hamburg (217) as Britannia to The Texas Company (Norway) A/S, Oslo.

Captain: Johan Karsten Hallén (previously of the torpedoed M/T Italia).

Some other Crew Members:

1st Mate: William Taxt
2nd Mate: Henning Milward Vaagsnes
Able Seaman: Riverdy Hulliard (British)
1st Engineer: F. Haaskjold
3rd Engineer: Asbjørn Flakstad

Related item on this website:
An entry to my "Warsailor Stories" section from Fred Turner, who served on this ship, with information on some of her 1944 voyages. He also served on Solør, Ole Bull and Stirlingville.

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

Voyage Record
From Apr.-1940 to Aug.-1945:

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 Apr. 10 Dublin St Michaels Apr. 13 Independent Compare w/Page 1
Apr. 16 St Michaels Bermuda Apr. 24 Independent
Apr. 25 Bermuda Port Arthur May 1 Independent
May 3 Port Arthur Falmouth Bay May 21 Independent See also narrative below
May 21 Falmouth Bay Clyde May 23 Independent
May 29 Clyde New York City June 11 Independent Again, see also Page 1.
June 19 New York City Cristobal June 27 Independent
June 28 Balboa Los Angeles July 8 Independent
July 9 Los Angeles San Francisco July 11 Independent
July 15 San Francisco Shanghai Aug. 7 Independent
Aug. 8 Shanghai Hong Kong Aug. 11 Independent
Aug. 17 Hong Kong Singapore Aug. 23 Independent
Aug. 26 Singapore Colombo Sept. 1 Independent
Sept. 1 Colombo Bahrein Sept. 9 Independent
Sept. 12 Bahrein Fremantle Oct. 2 Independent
Oct. 2 Fremantle Sydney, N.S.W. Oct. 10 Independent
Oct. 13 Sydney, N.S.W. Newcastle, N.S.W. Oct. 13 Independent
Oct. 14 Newcastle, N.S.W. Brisbane Oct. 16 Independent
Oct. 20 Brisbane Bahrein Nov. 15 Independent
Nov. 17 Bahrein Singapore Dec. 1 Independent Left Singapore Dec. 2
(Page 1).
Dec. 19 Shanghai Sourabaya Dec. 31 Independent
1941 Jan. 5 Sourabaya Singapore Jan. 8 Independent
Jan. 9 Singapore Colombo Independent
Jan. 15 Colombo Bahrein Jan. 23 Independent
Jan. 25 Bahrein Durban Febr. 10 Independent
Febr. 15 Durban Bahrein March 2 Independent
March 3 Bahrein Durban March 18 Independent
March 23 Durban Bahrein Apr. 7 Independent
Apr. 8 Bahrein Mombasa Apr. 19 Independent
Apr. 22 Mombasa Bahrein May 2 Independent
May 5 Bahrein Lourenço Marques May 21 Independent
May 24 Lourenço Marques Bahrein June 8 Independent
June 9 Bahrein Durban June 27 Independent
July 1 Durban Palembang July 22 Independent
July 23 Palembang Singapore July 25 Independent
July 27 Singapore Wellington Aug. 17 Independent
Aug. 21 Wellington Nelson Aug. 22 Independent
Aug. 23 Nelson Sourabaya Sept. 7 Independent
Oct. 9 Sourabaya Singapore Oct. 15 Independent Missing voyages?
(see Page 2).
Oct. 23 Singapore Auckland Nov. 12 Independent
Nov. 13 Auckland Lyttleton Nov. 16 Independent
Nov. 19 Lyttleton Wellington Nov. 20 Independent
Dec. 27 Wellington Los Angeles Jan. 21-1942 Independent
1942 Jan. 31 Los Angeles San Francisco Febr. 1 Independent
Febr. 8 San Francisco Auckland March 9 Independent
March 12 Auckland Lyttleton March 14 Independent
March 18 Lyttleton Talara Apr. 9 Independent
Apr. 15 Talara Auckland May 13 Independent
May 15 Auckland New Plymouth May 19* Independent *Page 2 gives arrival May 17
May 20 New Plymouth Wellington May 20 Independent
June 10 Wellington Los Angeles July 1 Independent
July 9 Los Angeles Capetown Aug. 16 Independent
Aug. 20 Capetown Aden Sept. 5 Independent
Sept. 7 Aden Port Sudan Sept. 10 Independent
Sept. 11 Port Sudan Suez Sept. 14 Independent
Sept. 20 Suez Massawa Sept. 23 Independent See also narrative below
Sept. 25 Massawa Aden Sept. 27 Independent
Sept. 29 Aden Bahrein Oct. 7 AP 3
Oct. 11 Bahrein Bandar Abbas Independent
Oct. 13 Bandar Abbas PB 6 For Mombasa.
Detached Oct. 15.
Convoy available via this page
(external link)
Oct. 15 Detached from PB 6 Mombasa Oct. 26 Independent
Oct. 31 Mombasa Bahrein Nov. 9 Independent
Nov. 14 Bahrein Bandar Abbas Independent
Nov. 16 Bandar Abbas PB 12 For Melbourne.
Detached Nov. 22.
Convoy available via link above
Nov. 22 Detached from PB 12 Melbourne Dec. 15 Independent
Dec. 19 Melbourne Sydney, N.S.W. Dec. 21 Independent
Dec. 26 Sydney, N.S.W. Los Angeles Jan. 21-1943 Independent
1943 Apr. 2 Los Angeles Hobart Apr. 30 Independent
May 1 Hobart Melbourne May 4 Independent
May 11 Melbourne Bahrein June 4 Independent
June 6 Bahrein Durban June 25 Independent
July 1 Durban Lourenço Marques July 3 DN 50 Convoy available via this page
(external link)
July 10 Lourenço Marques Durban July 11 LMD 25 Convoy available via link above
July 16 Durban DN 52 Dispersed in 34 02S 37 40E, July 18.
Convoy available via link above
July 18 Dispersed from DN 52 Bahrein Aug. 5 Independent
Aug. 7 Bahrein Bandar Abbas Independent
Aug. 13 Bandar Abbas PA 49 Detached Aug. 15.
Convoy available via link above
Aug. 15 Detached from PA 49 Durban Aug. 31 Independent
Sept. 2 Durban Lourenço Marques Sept. 4 DN 59 Convoy available via link above
Sept. 11* Lourenço Marques Durban Sept. 12 LMD 32 Convoy available via link above
*Page 3 gives departure Sept. 9.
Sept. 17 Durban DK 1 Detached Sept. 28.
Convoy available via link above
Sept. 28 Detached from DK 1 Bandar Abbas Oct. 6 Independent Torpedoed
See narrative below.
Oct. 11 Bandar Abbas Bombay Oct. 17 PB 59 Convoy available via this page
(external link)
Dec. 19 Bombay Abadan Dec. 25 Independent See also Page 3
Dec. 29 Abadan Aden Jan. 6-1944 Independent (See also narrative).
1944 Jan. 6 Aden Suez Jan. 11 On to Port Said Jan. 13
(Page 3)
See also narrative below
Jan. 15 Port Said Augusta Jan. 21 GUS 28 Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
Jan. 22 Augusta Taranto Jan. 24 AH 20 Convoy available at AH convoys
(external link)
Jan. 29 Taranto Augusta Jan. 31 HA 21 Convoy available at HA convoys
(external link)
Febr. 4 Augusta Naples Febr. 6 VN 19 Convoy available at VN convoys
(external link)
Febr. 13 Naples Bizerta Febr. 14 Escorted
Febr. 22 Tunis Baltimore
(for repairs)
March 18 GUS 31 Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
June 23 Baltimore Philadelphia June 24 Independent
June 27 Philadelphia New York City June 27 Independent
June 29 New York City Philadelphia June 30 Independent
July 3 Philadelphia Hampton Roads Independent Page 3 gives arrival same day
July 4 Hampton Roads Algiers July 21 UGS 47 Convoy available at UGS convoys
(external link)
Aug. 11 Algiers New York City Aug. 27 GUS 48
Aug. 31 New York City Hampton Roads Independent Page 3 gives arrival Sept. 1.
Sept. 2 Hampton Roads Port Said Sept. 28 UGS 53 Convoy available at link above.
On to Suez same day
(Page 3).
Sept. 29 Suez Port Sudan Oct. 2 Independent
Oct. 3 Port Sudan Aden Oct. 6 Independent
Oct. 10 Aden Khor Kwai Independent
Oct. 15 Khor Kwai Abadan Independent
Oct. 19 Abadan Aden Oct. 27 Independent
Oct. 27 Aden Suez Nov. 1 Independent On to Port Said Nov. 4
(Page 4).
Nov. 5 Port Said Augusta Nov. 11 MKS 67 Convoy will be added.
See ships in MKS convoys
Nov. 12 Augusta Naples Nov. 13 Independent
Nov. 19 Naples Oran Nov. 22 Independent
Nov. 24 Oran New York City Dec. 10 GUS 59 Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
Dec. 18 New York City Passed Gibraltar Jan. 4-1945 UGS 64 Convoy available at UGS convoys
(external link)
1945 Jan. 4 Passed Gibraltar Augusta Jan. 8 Independent
Jan. 17 Augusta Bari Jan. 18 Independent
Jan. 22 Bari Oran Jan. 27 Independent
Jan. 27 Oran New York City Febr. 14 GUS 68 Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
March 23 New York City Passed Gibraltar Apr. 7 UGS 82 Convoy available at UGS convoys
(external link)
Apr. 7 Passed Gibraltar Piraeus Apr. 13 Independent
Apr. 14 Piraeus Constanza Apr. 18 Independent Via Istanbul, Apr. 16
(Page 4).
Apr. 20 Constanza Haifa Apr. 26 Independent Again, see Page 4.
Apr. 28 Haifa Augusta May 2 Independent
May 6 Augusta Marseilles May 10 Independent
May 13 Marseilles* Oran May 16 Independent *See Page 4.
May 17 Oran Hampton Roads June 2 GUS 90 Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
June 4 Delaware Capes Bizerta June 25 Independent
June 27 Bizerta Oran Independent
June 30 Oran Delaware Capes July 12 Independent
July 15 Delaware Capes Antwerp July 28 Independent Via The Downs
(Page 4).
July 31 Antwerp Delaware Capes Aug. 12 Independent Subsequent voyages:
Page 4 & Page 5

For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the National Archives of Norway and A. Hague's record above. (The differences in dates in this narrative, as compared to those found in the record, could simply be a matter of different time zones used in the reports).

According to Page 1 of the archive documents, Britannia was in Dublin when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, having arrived there from Port Arthur on Apr. 6.

She's listed as scheduled for Convoys HX 42, HX 43 and HX 44 (Bermuda portion) in May-1940, but did not sail in any of them. It'll be noticed, when going back to the archive document, that she had sailed to Falmouth (from Port Arthur) already on May 3, arriving Falmouth on May 20, and according to A. Hague, this voyage was made independently (in fact, she does not appear in any convoys at all until Sept.-1942). Her 1941 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 2, which shows a long stay in Sourabaya that fall, with another long stay in Wellington at the end of that year. Page 2 also has some 1942 voyages.

Her 2nd Mate, Henning Vaagsnes, saved the lives of 2 American seamen on the tanker West Nohno at Suez on Sept. 20-1942, when he went into a tank and hoisted them up after they had succumbed to gas poisoning while cleaning the tank without gas masks. A 3rd man died, in spite of Vaagsnes' efforts to revive him for 2 hours. As a reward he received a gift of binoculars from President Roosevelt and a gold watch from the American shipowners. (In 1989 he was awarded St. Olavsmedaljen m/eikegren posthumously).

At the end of that month (Sept. 29-1942), Britannia is listed in Convoy AP 3 from Aden. Her destination is given as Bahrein, where she arrived on Oct. 7. The Norwegian Norfold, bound for Abadan, is also listed in this convoy.

Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 2 and Page 3; convoy information for some of these can be found in the Voyage Record above. As can be seen, she had a long stay in Los Angeles at the beginning of 1943.

 Torpedoed - 1943: 

Britannia, carrying 7028 bags of sugar, sailed from Lourenço Marques on Sept. 11-1943 in convoy for Abadan via Durban for orders, arriving Durban the next day (A. Hague has included her in Convoy LMD 32 - external link - Page 3 gives her departure as Sept. 9). She left Durban again in ballast on Sept. 17, having taken on board 4 male and 1 female passenger while there (46 people were on board), and proceeded in convoy until the early morning of Sept. 27, then continued alone, steering Admiralty courses (A. Hague says she detached from Convoy DK 1 on Sept. 28, also external).

At 02:34 on Oct. 6* she was torpedoed by U-188 (Lüdden), position 24 23N 58 02E, having been struck in the after deck, starboard side, causing a fire to erupt there, but it was quickly extinguished. The ship listed to port, then to starboard. The lookout, the British Able Seaman Riverdy Hulliard, had seen the wake of the torpedo abeam at a distance of about 200 yards and ran to the officer on watch on the bridge, 2nd Mate Henning Milward Vaagsnes to report it, but too late. Course was then altered 80° to port and an SOS sent out, while 2 shots were fired from the 4" gun in the presumed direction of the U-boat, before Britannia proceeded in a zig-zag course. The ship was righted by trimming the tanks, and at dawn, following a thorough inspection of the damages, speed was reduced and zig-zagging discontinued.

*The above date and position are from the captain's report. J. Rohwer gives the date as Oct. 5 (German time), position 24 21N 58 02E.

The torpedo had exploded with tremendous force in the ship's side near No. 8 starboard side tank, causing the bulkhead to No. 8 centertank to be blown away, and bulkheads to No. 9 side and center tanks had been torn to pieces and pressed in. Bulkheads to the aft pumproom on the starboard side had loosened from rivets from the main deck to bottom and severely pressed in. The bottom and the ship's side in No. 8 tank and 3/4 of No. 9 on the starboard side were also blown away, and shrapnel of the torpedo had penetrated through the bulkheads of No. 8 and 9 port side tanks and bulkhead to No. 10 center tank. Some of the plates were still intact, though severely dented. No. 7 port sidetank was leaking, and the aft pumproom and the loading tanks aft of the pumproom (except No. 10 starboard and port sidetanks) were open to the sea and filled to the water line. Additionally, the starboard aft lifeboat had been broken in 2, with the aft part lost overboard; the starboard aft raft was also gone.

All the awning stantions and frames on the starboard side aft were broken and the awnings torn. Securings of the steering engine were broken, and the concrete to the radio room and chartroom had been shaken loose. Even the messrooms and pantry had not escaped, in that a lot of dishes were broken. Several bolts in the way of the foundation and the propeller bearings had loosened, in addition to other damages to the engine. The after part of the ship had given way about 6" from No. 8 tank and aft, while the main deck on the starboard side to the after mast was severely dented, as was the ship's port side outside No. 9 sidetank. The 2nd mate found pieces of the torpedo on deck, with one fragment, 1/2' x 1/2' x 1/4" marked ENNSTOFF. This was later handed over to British Naval officers for inspection.

In spite of all this, there was no loss of life, and on orders from the Admiralty she managed to get to Bandar Abbas that same evening, where she was further examined by the captain and 1st Mate William Taxt (in swimming trunks, no less), whereupon the captain announced she was going to be saved, though she was just barely hanging together.

The captain gave orders for the two parts to be "sewn" together by stretching a 5 1/2" and a 6" wire along the afterdeck on the starboard and port side, between mooring bits on the fore and afterpart of the main deck and between 7 and 9 wingtank hatches; the chain lifts to the derricks were shackled together around starboard No. 8 and 9 hatches. Before they took her to Bombay on Oct. 10 for dry docking the captain had earned the nickname "the crazy Norwegian" from the British Naval authorities after they had inspected the improvised repairs. She arrived Bombay in the afternoon of Oct. 17, where maritime hearings were held on Oct. 25, and where she stayed in dock until Nov. 22 for temporary repairs. She left Bombay in convoy on Dec. 19 for Abadan (A. Hague says she made this voyage independently), then took on a cargo of 6000 tons of oil in the undamaged tanks, before leaving for Aden on the 29th.

On Jan. 2-1944, she stopped and picked up 72 seamen from the American Liberty ship Albert Gallatin, which had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-26 (21 21N 59 58E) that same morning. The rescued men were landed at Aden on Jan. 6, while Britannia continued with her cargo that same day and arrived Suez on Jan. 11. She left Suez on Jan. 13 for Port Said, where she arrived on the 15th, then departed that same day for Augusta, arriving Jan. 21. The following day, she proceeded to Taranto, where she arrived on the 24th, departing on the 29th for Naples, arriving on Febr. 6 (via Augusta, according to Page 3). On the 13th of that month she headed for Baltimore, where she arrived on March 18 for more permanent repairs. (The Voyage Record has information on convoys she was in during this time period, as well as her subsequent voyages - as can be seen, she remained in Baltimore until June 23)

Fred Turner, who sent me his story for inclusion in my "Warsailor Stories" section, says the following re Britannia (he had just left Ole Bull):
"My next ship was the M/T Britannia, which I joined on August 31st, 1944 in New York (she had arrived New York from Algiers with Convoy GUS 48 on Aug. 27, after having spent 3 weeks in Algiers). We left New York and sailed for the Mediterranean again. On October 2nd, 1944 we were in Port Sudan. Our next port was Aden. We sailed up the Persian Gulf to Abadan. After loading with octane gasoline, we returned by the Red Sea, Suez Canal*, to Naples. We were in Naples on the 16th of November, 1944. We arrived back in New York on the 13th of December, 1944". (Page 4 gives arrival New York as Dec. 10)

*She's said to have lost a crew member on Nov. 5-1944, when Able Seaman Gotfred Tvedt died due to illness. He's commemorated at the Memorial for Seamen in Stavern, Norway (link at the end of this page). According to her record, Britannia was in Port Said on that date, leaving that same day for Augusta, joining Convoy MKS 67 (later to Naples, as mentioned by F. Turner). This convoy will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section, but for now, the ships sailing in it are named in the section for ships in all MKS convoys.

On VE Day she was en route from Augusta to Marseilles, where she arrived on May 10-1945, subsequently travelling to Oran and from there to the U.S. Page 4 also lists most of her 1945 voyages (showing a long stay in New York early that year), while the rest can be found on Page 5 (to Apr.-1946).

For info, U-188 was also responsible for the attack on Viva in 1944 - follow the link for details.


Sold in May-1950 to Enrico Insom, Rome, Italy and renamed Barbara. Sold in 1956 to Etna Soc. de Nav., Palermo, Italy and renamed Salina, converted to bulk carrier. Sold in 1963 to Cia. Italiana Transoceanica di Nav. S.P.A., Genoa. Sold in 1965 for breaking up at La Spezia, broken up the following year.

Related external links:
Stavern Memorial commemoration - Able Seaman Gotfred Tvedt, mentioned above, is commemorated.

U-188 | Siegfried Lüdden

A WW2 survival story of the U-Boat U188 and two of her victims (Britannia is mentioned in this account).

Back to Britannia on the "Ships starting with B" page.

Other ships by this name: Another Britannia was delivered to The Texas Company (Norway) A/S in May-1954, renamed Texaco Britannia in 1960. Broken up in 1975. There was also a British (a liner, sunk by the German Aux. cruiser Thor on March 25-1941) and a Swedish ship by this name.

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.


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