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M/S California Express
To California Express on the "Ships starting with C" page.
Manager: Sigurd Herlofsen & Co., Oslo
Built in Gothenburg, completed by Götaverken as California Express in Jan-1934 and entered service for Sigurd Herlofson & Co. A/S. Owner later became A/S Wenoka, Oslo (Sigurd Herlofson & Co. A/S), with same name (this info from Marek Twardowski, a Polish visitor to my website).
Fruit carrier, which operated for Skibs-A/S Fruit Express Line. Before the war she was in service England/France-west coast of the U.S. (not sure if she sailed for Skibs-A/S Fruit Express at that time).
In the Norwegian magazine "Krigsseileren, Issue No. 1 for 1975 I came across a letter written by Edward Driscoll, who sailed on board California Express at some point (he was looking for shipmates at the time). I mentioned this, in case any of his relatives should happen upon this website, looking for information. A visitor to my site saw this note, and Mr. Driscoll has since been located in Wales - see the end of my page about D/S Fjordheim. If anybody would like to get in touch with him, I'd be happy to pass on his contact information. My address has been provided at the bottom of this page. He also sailed on 6 other Norwegian ships, namely Cetus, Frode, Sola(?), Skotaas, Daghild, Bosphorus, all listed on this website except Sola (I believe he means Solør). Edward has since sent me his WW II sea story, which I've added to my "Warsailor Stories" section, link below.
Related items on this website:
Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.
(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.
Errors may exist, and several voyages are missing.
When war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, California Express was on her way from Cristobal to San Francisco - see Page 1 of the archive documents. Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2 and continue on Page 3 and Page 4, which also shows most of her 1942 voyages. It'll be noticed, on the latter document, that she spent quite a long time in Los Angeles, where she had arrived from Balboa on Dec. 22-1941. Departure is given as Febr. 18-1942, when she proceeded to Seattle.
In Apr.-1942 she's listed among the ships in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 187. She had a cargo of bacon and also carried passengers, arriving Liverpool on May 8, Manchester the next day. She subsequently made several independent voyages between the U.S. and U.K. through the rest of 1942 and through the spring of 1943 (see Page 4 and Page 5, as well as Voyage Record above), until she joined Convoy HX 232*, which originated in New York on Apr. 1-1943 and arrived Liverpool on the 16th. California Express joined this convoy from Halifax, and from Liverpool, she proceeded to Manchester on the 16th. 4 ships were sunk, but none of them were Norwegian (American Edward B. Dudley, British Fresno City and Pacific Grove, and the Dutch Ulysses). The Norwegian Belinda, Heranger, Skandinavia, Thorhild, Thorshøvdi, Tigre, Tungsha and Ørnefjell are also named in this convoy. Belinda, Thorhild, Skandinavia and California Express subsequently returned with the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 180*, which left Liverpool on Apr. 24. Norsktank, Norsol, Reinholt (Commodore Vessel), Skjelbred and Velma also took part. This convoy arrived New York City on May 14, but California Express was bound for Halifax, where she arrived on May 12.
We now find her in station 91 of Convoy HX 240. This convoy also originated in New York (May 19-1943), but California Express, cargo of meats and metals for Cardiff, station 91, and the Norwegian Bañaderos joined from Halifax on May 22. According to the Commodore's notes, they were both detached from the main convoy on June 1, and sent ahead under escort as a fast section - follow the link to my page about this convoy for more info. California Express arrived her destination (via Belfast Lough) on June 4. She later headed in the other direction again with Convoy ON 190*, originating in Liverpool on June 24, arriving New York on July 9; California Express, however, arrived Halifax on July 6, having sailed from Milford Haven on June 24, see Page 5. She had again been in the company of several other Norwegian ships, namely Brajara, Dageid, Fjordaas, Gefion, Høyanger, Lynghaug, Mosli, Norefjord, Norsol, Orwell, Polartank, Skiensfjord and Tarifa. She subsequently returned to the U.K. with Convoy HX 248, which left New York on July 15, but California Express again joined from Halifax (on July 18), and was again detached with ships forming a fast portion, according to the Commodore's notes - follow the convoy link for more details. Her cargo is given as general and meat, and she was bound for Glasgow, where she arrived July 28 (Bañaderos was in company this time as well, as were several other Norwegian ships - the Commodore's report is also available).
On Aug. 8-1943 we find her, with a general cargo for New York, in the westbound Convoy ON 196*, along with Athos, Fjordaas, Gefion, Hardanger, Montevideo (Commodore Vessel), Mosli, Oregon Express, Roald Amundsen, Skotaas and Trondheim. ON 196 arrived New York on Aug. 21, and on Sept. 2 she joined Convoy HX 255 from New York (Commodore in Abraham Lincoln). California Express had a general cargo for Manchester, and was again sent on a ahead with 7 other ships, forming a fast portion of the convoy (follow the link to HX 255 for details). She arrived Manchester on Sept. 15 - again, see Page 5. A week later, she headed in the other direction again with Convoy ON 203*, departing Liverpool on Sept. 22, arriving New York on Oct. 10. Dageid, Duala, Gefion, Lista, Norholm, Polartank, Skaraas, Trondheim, Vav and Vinga are also listed, as is the Panamanian Norlys, which had Norwegian managers and is included under the N's on this site. According to Arnold Hague, California Express returned to the U.K. with a cargo of dried egg in Convoy HX 262*, departing New York on Oct. 18, arriving Liverpool on Nov. 2. Other Norwegian ships were Fjordaas, Gallia, Strinda (returned following a collision) and Trondheim. Her last Trans-Atlantic voyage that year was made in Convoy ON 210* (from Liverpool Nov. 6, to New York Nov. 23), together with Buenos Aires, Duala, Gallia, Heranger, Marit II, Pan Scandia and Vinga. In fact, California Express served as the Commodore Vessel on that occasion.
She subsequently remained in New York for several weeks, before proceeding to St. John, N.B. on Jan. 10-1944, later returning to New York again in order to join the fast Convoy CU 12 back to the U.K. on Jan. 19. Her destination is given as Glasgow, where she arrived Jan. 30 - see Page 6. She now went back across the Atlantic with Convoy UC 12*, which originated in Liverpool on Febr. 7 and arrived New York on the 18th (the Norwegian Mosdale also took part). At the beginning of March she joined Convoy CU 16 from New York to the U.K., then headed in the other direction with Convoy UC 16* later that month (from Liverpool March 17, to New York March 28; but California Express was bound for Halifax, where she arrived March 27). On Apr. 7, she's listed in the Halifax portion of Convoy HX 286, bound for Glasgow with meat and metal, arriving there on Apr. 20 (Acanthus and Eglantine are named among the escorts - see HX convoy escorts), returning at the beginning of May with Convoy UC 21, arriving New York May 12 (it'll be noticed, when going to my page about this convoy, that she's said to have had engine trouble at 10:10 May 7 necessitating her slowing to 9 knots for 15 minutes). She headed back to the U.K. on May 21 with Convoy CU 25, and arrived her destination Manchester on June 1. By July 2 she was back in New York (having arrived with Convoy UC 26* - from Liverpool June 15, to New York June 27), joining Convoy CU 30, together with the Norwegian tanker Hegra.
On July 26 she's listed, with Martin Bakke and Mosdale, in the westbound Convoy UC 31*, which arrived New York on Aug. 5, and with Elisabeth Bakke she headed back across the Atlantic about a week later with Convoy CU 35. She arrived Glasgow on Aug. 22, and already on the 26th we find her (again with Mosdale, as well as Washington Express) in the westbound convoy UC 35*, which arrived New York on Sept. 5. On Sept. 20 she joined Convoy CU 40, bound for Manchester with general cargo, arriving there Oct. 2, later joining the westbound Convoy UC 40B* (from Liverpool Oct. 10, to New York Oct. 20). With Karsten Wang, she now returned to the U.K. with Convoy CU 45. Her destination is again given as Manchester, and she arrived there on Nov. 12. On the 18th of that month, she proceeded in the other direction with Convoy UC 45B*, which arrived New York on the 30th - however, California Express arrived St. John, N.B. on that date, according to Page 7. From there, she continued to Halifax on Dec. 4, and that year was rounded off by sailing to the U.K. in the Halifax portion of Convoy HX 324 on Dec. 6, bound for Cardiff with general cargo and mail, with arrival Dec. 18.
California Express went back across the Atlantic at the beginning of Jan.-1945 in Convoy UC 51B*, originating in Liverpool on Jan. 5, arriving New York on the 15th, and just 3 days later we find her in Convoy CU 55, with Martin Bakke. They were both bound for Manchester with general cargo. California Express arrived there on Jan. 30, then returned with Convoy UC 55B*, departing Liverpool on Febr. 6; her destination is given as Halifax, where she arrived on Febr. 17. Later that month, A. Hague has included her in Convoy HX 340*, originating in New York on Febr. 23, arriving Liverpool March 10. California Express had sailed from Halifax on Febr. 25 and arrived Avonmouth March 10. The Norwegian Fagerfjell, Ferncourt, Fjordaas, Gefion (returned), Ivaran, Kaldfonn and Tungsha (Commodore Vessel) are also listed. About a week later we find California Express (and Mosdale) in the westbound Convoy UC 60B*, which started out in Liverpool on March 18 and arrived New York on the 29th. Together with Ida Bakke, Kirkenes, Martin Bakke and Honningsvaag she's also listed, carrying meat and passengers, in Convoy CU 67, which left New York on Apr. 24 and arrived Liverpool on May 5. Her last North Atlantic convoy voyage was made in UC 67B*, which departed Liverpool on May 13 and arrived New York on May 23.
In the banana-trade from the Caribbean to Europe in 1946. Purchased by Polish shipping company "Polbrit" in Jan.-1949, renamed Czech. Transferred to Polish Ocean Lines Jan. 1-1951. Name and flag unchanged. On March 7-1953 she rescued 62 survivors from the Egyptian Navy vessel Sollum which sank in a storm off Alexandria. Collided off Seville with the Spanish Plus Ultra on Sept. 21-1961. Deleted from register in Jan.-1965. Broken up in Gdansk, Poland, in July-1965.
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