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D/S Christian Michelsen
To Christian Michelsen on the "Ships starting with C" page.
Built by Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc., Baltimore, launched as John M.T. Finney on May 21-1943, delivered May 31.
This was one of 10 (11?) ships added to Nortraship's Fleet in 1943, on bareboat charter from the United States War Shipping Administration. Christian Michelsen was taken over in Baltimore on the day of delivery, May 31. See my page "Ship Statistics and Misc." under "Gains 1943" for a list of the others.
Captain: Jens Lassen Ugland
In the book "Englandsfarten" there's mention of a captain by by the name Jens Lassen Ugland, which is unusual enough that I suspected it must be the same person, and this has since been confirmed by another Jens Lassen Ugland (see his message in my Guestbook). The book gives the story of a sail boat that departed Arendal on July 14-1940 with 4 people on board, all of whom were officers in the Merchant Marine, namely Captain Jens Lassen Ugland, Engineer Olav Andersen, Captain Theodor Jensen and Captain Reidar Ytterlid. They had been given permission by the Germans to sail as far as Farsund for a little vacation, which they also did, but after a few days they took off one night and headed for England. They encountered terrible weather and ended up drifting, but were spotted by a British submarine which picked them up, but being as the sub was on a mission on the Norwegian coast the 4 went back in with them, then a ship was torpedoed near Egersund by the sub. At the end of July the 4 officers were landed in Newcastle. The officers had been aided by a resistance group in Arendal and had with them the code books for a radio station. 5 members of the resistance group were arrested after this, initially sentenced to death, but this was later changed to 10 years in the penitentiary. Several others also had to serve time in the penitentiary.
Related items on this website:
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the Nationa Archives of Norway.
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.
As mentioned, Christian Michelsen had been taken over in Baltimore on May 31-1943. She was scheduled to sail from New York to the U.K. in Convoy HX 244 on June 15 (Vice Commodore in Samuel Bakke), but instead joined the next convoy on June 23, HX 245, general cargo for London, station 12. Follow the links for more details - several Norwegian ships took part (see also these reports re HX 245).
She was back in New York on Aug. 13, having arrived that day with the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 195, which had originated in Liverpool on July 31 (Christian Michelsen sailed from Loch Ewe that day). This convoy will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section; in the meantime, the ships sailing in it are named at ships in all ON cnvoys. Bañaderos, Bajamar, Abraham Lincoln (Commodore Vessel), Duala, Egerø, Gallia, Vav, Velma and Washington Express are also listed. For more information on these ships, please see the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index
Christian Michelsen left New York again on Sept. 2-1943, bound for Bizerta via Hampton Roads for convoy, joining Convoy UGS 17, which left Hampton Roads on Sept. 6 and also included Egda, Glarona, Marie Bakke and Thorsholm (Tautra joined from Algiers later, while Vigsnes joined from Bone. UGS 17 had Port Said as its final destination - ref. link provided within the Voyage Record above). Christian Michelsen had a cargo of ammunition and other war materials.
On Sept. 26 she was torpedoed by U-410 (Fenski) and practically blown to bits, sinking in less than a minute, 37 12N 08 26E. 47 died (all named in the crew list below).
3 miraculously survived and were picked up by one of the escort vessels, then taken to a hospital in Bizerta the next morning. The survivors were Gunner Ole A. Olsen, Able Seaman Einar Melby and Ordinary Seaman Knut Egil Berg. Able Seaman Henry Erlandsen had also gotten off the ship, but was injured and trapped among debris. He died shortly after Einar Melbye had gotten him free and pulled him on to some timber. Einar Melby clung to debris for about an hour before he was picked up, while the other 2 had found a raft. Melby and Erlandsen had been on duty by the aft guns, Olsen and Berg had been asleep in their cabins when the torpedo hit.
Arnold Hague's "The Allied Convoy System" lists Christian Michelsen as American*, adding she had a cargo of 10 000 tons ammunition and oil. Charles Hocking gives the position as 30 miles east of Bona, saying she sank after an internal explosion, with 37 crew and 1 passenger killed. "Lloyd's War Losses" gives her cargo as 3000 tons of bombs, 4000 tons of ammunition, 3000 tons of oil and mail.
My Guestbook has a message from the grandson of Lt. James F. Knowlton, who was on board Christian Michelsen when she was sunk. The poster has since told me that according to his records, after leaving New York on Sept. 2-1943, she stopped at Norfolk where his grandfather boarded (the archive document gives arrival Hampton Roads as Sept. 3). She was bound for Parma, Sicily by way of Bizerta (Sicily had been seized by the Allies weeks before). The cargo on board matches the info from Lloyd's and the names of the survivors match the names scribbled in longhand on his record. The stern was the last to go (42 seconds), suggesting the ship was hit in the bow (allowing Olsen and Berg in their sternward cabins to survive).
The maritime hearings were held in New York on Nov. 9-1943 with Einar Melby and Knut Berg appearing (Ole Olsen was still in hospital at that time). Melby and Berg had signed on M/T Mosli on Oct. 12.
Related external links:
Liberty Ships - Unfortunately, the list no longer appears to be included at this site (unfortunate, because I have 100's of links to it from my Convoys section). If I remember correctly, that particular section was hosted by Peter Thompson, who has now moved to a different site, but I cannot find his list of Liberty Ships. I'll leave the link up for now until I can find out whether it's still available somewhere. I did find an identical page here, but as will be seen, the alphabetical links receive an error.
Back to Christian Michelsen on the "Ships starting with C" page.
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 as named within the text above for cross checking info. - ref My sources.