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D/T Crawford Ellis
Updated June 19-2011

To Crawford Ellis on the "Ships starting with C" page.

Received from John Wright, England.
Lillesand Sjømannsforening's website (Lillesand Seamen's Association) also has a picture of this ship, along with pictures of several other Norwegian ships. Click on it to make it larger (external links).

Manager: Helmer Staubo & Co., Oslo
2161 gt, 2209 tdwt.

Built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend in 1930. Oil fuelled fruit carrier, 15 knots. On charter to United Fruit Company during the war.

Captain: Helmer Salvesen until Sept.-1945. When he was on a brief vacation in Aug.-1943, 1st Mate Carl Johnsen took over, and during another vacation Josef Jensen took over (previously of the company's Hav).

1st Mate: Carl Johnsen
2nd Mate:
Aslag R. Høyesen, who became the ship's 1st Mate in Aug.-1943, to be replaced in July-1944 by a man named Bjørge.
3rd Mate: Einar Tønnesen
Chief Engineer:
Bjørn Halvorsen (see also this external page)
2nd Engineer:
Eugen Wiik (until the end of the war).
Odvar Vollen (on board from Apr.-1940 until half way into 1944 without a break).
2 Jamaican boys with the last name Foster were also on board for several years.

From April 9-1940 till January 1-1945, Crawford Ellis had sailed 311 129 nautical miles.

 War Voyages: 

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11

Compare the above with the following narrative (source is given at the bottom of this page - the slight difference in date in some cases is probably just a result of different time zones used in the reports):


She was en route from Tela, Honduras to Galveston, Texas when Norway was invaded on Apr. 9-1940, arriving Galveston on Apr. 11. She finished unloding that same day, continuing to Cortes, arriving Apr. 14 - departed Apr. 15 for Galveston (according to Page 1 she arrived on Apr. 18). After cargo had been unloaded there she was sent through the Panama Canal to the west coast, and made some voyages with general cargo and coffee between Golfito, Quepos and ports in the Panama Canal (occasionally, silver bars were loaded at Amapala). Departed Cristobal on May 26-1940 for Tela where she loaded bananas for the U.S. Went into dry dock in Galveston on June 27, already en route to Tela again on June 30. At the end of July she was in Mobile and loaded iron for Tela, unloaded there from Aug. 2 till Aug. 9. With bananas she then went to Jacksonville where the bananas were unloaded, continued to Christobal on Aug. 17, arriving Aug. 23. On Sept. 6 she was in Mobile again, whereupon she was "laid up" for yearly overhaul. On to Baltimore on Oct. 6 (archive doc gives Oct. 8) and loaded general cargo for Tela, back to Savannah (no cargo on board) where railroad tracks were loaded for Tela. Took on board fruit at Cortes, unloaded in Jacksonville, and made a couple more voyages between Honduras and the U.S. coast. In Dec.-1940 she went into drydock in Galveston (Page 2 gives her arrival there as Dec. 19), but continued a couple of days later (more voyages Cortes, Tela and Cristobal - U.S. Gulf and Atlantic ports).


She was in Jamaica unloading cargo at the beginning of the year, then took on bananas for Jacksonville, Florida, whereupon she went to Cuba, back to Jacksonville, on to Jamaica and more of the same, alternating with Cuba and Jamaica - was in Jamaica from Febr. 22 till the 28th, due to shortage of bananas. Her 6th cargo in 1941 was taken to Boston, as was her 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th cargo (again, compare w/Page 2). These voyages took exactly 14 days (round trips). Her 11th cargo was taken to St. John, New Brunswick, as was the 12th and up to and including her 18th (Page 3), the 19th to Boston, 20th to St. John, where potatoes were loaded for Havana, then carried raw sugar back from Cuba to Boston, arriving there on Oct. 4. Her next voyage (22nd) went from Boston to St. John to load potatoes for Havana, on to Cartagena, Columbia to pick up coffee for New York, arriving the latter on Oct. 28. Her next voyage was similar, arriving New York with sugar from Cuba on Nov. 20. During her 24th round trip the U.S. entered the war - again to Cristobal with general cargo, on to Kingston, Jamaica, back to New York with arrival Dec. 12. One more round trip (the 25th), with general cargo from New York to Baranquilla, Columbia, from there to Cartagena for coffee, on to Cristobal (where she was painted the wartime grey), and back to New York Dec. 31.


Her first voyage in 1942 was much the same as her last one in 1941, arriving New York on Jan. 18, at which time a lot of rescue equipment was brought on board, including survival suits. Her 2nd voyage was like her first, with arrival New York on Febr. 6. This time a motor lifeboat was included before she departed on Febr. 9 for Baranquilla. Just 2 days out from New York on Febr. 11 a U-boat was spotted and her engines pushed to maximum capability. The boat disappeared half an hour later, but now she encountered a bad storm, though arrived her destination safely (according to Page 4, she arrived on Febr. 16), unloaded the cargo then continued to Cartagena. While there on Febr. 18, Captain Salvesen received a letter from United Fruit Company, saying the following:

"Please be advised that we have been notified by the American Consul of his receipt of following urgent telegram from the American Consulate at Aruba Netherlands West Indies: 'American Consul Cartagena, The Commander of U.S. Air Force at Aruba request that you advise all shipping to remain in port until otherwise advised because of the activities of submarines in the Gulf of Venezuela' ".

The next day, Febr. 19 he received another letter, saying that the following notice had been sent out by the Commander of the 15th Naval District, Panama Canal Zone:

"Commander of this Naval District advise that there are no restrictions on shipping movements in this region".

So Crawford Ellis headed out to sea again and arrived Mobile on Febr. 25 with bananas from Cortes.

She now had a few more voyages between Cortes and Mobile, mostly with cement to Cortes and with bananas on the return trips. The war had now become more noticable to those on board. The sighting of the U-boat, coupled with the news of several sinkings and the fact that the company's Hvoslef had been torpedoed on March 10, prompted the boatswain and carpenter to approach the captain on behalf of the crew, when en route from Cortes for Mobile with bananas in Apr.-1942, demanding armament on the ship, or they would not go out with her again. They arrived Mobile on Apr. 17, but no gun could be obtained there on such a short notice, so the crew agreed to stay on for another voyage (her 8th), with the promise that a gun should be ready upon their next landing at a U.S. port. Having loaded cement in Mobile for Coco Solo, she subsequently took on coffee in Cristobal and bananas in Cortes for Corpus Christi. On May 21 she went to a yard in Galveston and on June 1 a 3" gun arrived. The next day, a gunner (able seaman) signed on then on June 5 they started loading cargo for her 9th round trip, and was back in Mobile already on June 22 with bananas from Tela and Cortes. She now returned to Cortes for bananas, but only a few hours out on her return voyage to Mobile her boilers failed and she had to go back (again, see Page 4). It took 3 days to get the problem fixed and meanwhile the bananas had to be dumped and new ones loaded before she could continue to Mobile, arriving on July 11. She subsequently went to a yard for various repairs and degaussing from July 13 until Sept. 21, at which time she loaded fertilizer for Barrios, but this time they had to go by Key West to join a convoy for the first time*. Having unloaded the fertilizer at her distination, more bananas were taken on for Tampa, then general cargo for Barrios, in convoy from Key West, but this was the last convoy she ever took part in. For the rest of 1942 she continued taking on general cargo in Tampa for various ports in Honduras, and bananas back, 19 round trips in all in 1942.

Some convoy voyages in this time period (info received from Don Kindell, based on the late A. Hague's database - all these convoy links are external):
* Left New Orleans on Sept. 22-1942 and arrived Key West on the 25th - Convoy PK 105. As can be seen from Page 4 of the documents received from the National Archives of Norway, Crawford Ellis started out from Mobile on Sept. 22.
Departed Key West Sept. 26-1942 in a convoy designated KW SPEC2 - detached from this convoy on the 27th; arrival port is not given by A. Hague, but according to the archive document she arrived Puerto Barrios on Sept. 30 (subsequently returned to Tampa and Key West).
Left Kew West Oct. 15-1942 in Convoy KC 2 - detached Oct. 16. Again, arrival port is not given by A. Hague, but she was bound for Puerto Barrios again, where she arrived on Oct. 18.
The rest of her 1942 voyages are shown on Page 4 above, as well as Page 5.


Crawford Ellis now continued transporting cargoes from Tampa to La Ceiba and other ports (her 1943 voyages start on Page 5), carrying bananas on her return voyages. 9 such round trips had been made by Apr. 6-1943 when she arrived Tampa, and after her cargo had been unloaded she went into drydock, but by Apr. 11 she was already on her way out with cargo again, though this time in a round-about way due to increasing U-boat activity. She had to stop and spend the night at various Cuban ports on her way to La Ceiba and also on her way back. This continued for several more round trips. After the 13th trip she arrived Tampa on May 30 and from then on she could go straight to her destinations without these types of delays. Following her 19th voyage, on which she carried bananas from Tela to New Orleans, the latter became her U.S. base - general cargo was unloaded at Honduras, bananas brought back - her voyages in this period are shown on Page 6. After 33 round trips in 1943 she arrived New Orleans on Dec. 31, though that last voyage had not been entirely without incident. In the afternoon of Dec. 26, a vessel resembling a U-boat came straight towards her, so she altered course and proceeded at full speed, until she a couple of hours later could no longer see the intruder and original course was resumed, zig-zagging just in case.


This year saw her sailing much like the previous year, 20 round trips from New Orleans to ports in Honduras, 2 of which went out from Tampa - general cargo out, bananas and coffee back, each voyage taking 9 days. See also Page 7. At the end of July she had a brief stay at a yard, then off to Barrios with general cargo, bringing bananas back. Her 22nd voyage took her from New Orleans to Arica, northern Chile (according to Page 8, she also stopped at Callao, Peru), on to Tocopilla to load a cargo for Tela, then bananas were loaded for Mobile. The entire voyage with 3 cargoes took only a month. Another voyage was made to the west coast of South America, but not as far south. The bananas were loaded in Golfito for Mobile, arriving the latter on Oct. 6. After that, 6 of the usual short voyages followed, and the last trip of the year (her 29th) started and ended in New Orleans, having taken general cargo to Honduras, cotton and cows to Central America's west coast, and cargo from there back to New Orleans, where she arrived on Jan. 17-1945 (which agrees with the details found on Page 9).


From Jan. 17 until May 16-1945 she made 13 round trips, mostly from New Orleans, but also from Mobile and Charleston to ports in Honduras (Page 9). On one of them, her 5th voyage, she had a cargo of 125 cases of money from New Orleans to Tela. When the war ended she had just arrived Mobile with bananas from Tela and though VE Day was duly celebrated, life went on as usual; the unloading and loading of cargo still had to be seen to. From June 14 until June 28 she was at a yard for misc. repairs.

Not until after the war was over, in Aug. 1945, did she lose one of her crew in an accident while at Colon (probably Colón, Panama, judging from the information found on Page 10, where we learn that she was at Cristobal in Aug.-1945). He drowned while fishing from the ship. On Sept. 29 they started to paint her white again.

Page 10 also shows a few 1946 voyages, as does Page 11.


Under Panamanian flag as Shahin from 1946. See also Crawford Ellis at Lillesand Sjømannsforening's website (external link) for some more post war details.

Back to Crawford Ellis on the "Ships starting with C" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "19 Oslo-skips historie under verdenskrigen, fra April 1940 til krigens slutt i 1945" ("The Story of 19 Oslo ships during the World War, from April 1940 until the end of the War in 1945" Harald Nicolaisen - based on the ship's logs and diaries - ref. My sources.


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