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M/T Eli Knudsen
Owner: D/S A/S Jeanette Skinner
Delivered in Nov.-1925 from Blythswood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Glasgow as O. A. Knudsen to D/S A/S Jeanette Skinner, Haugesund. 470' x 62.2' x 35.3', 2 x 6-cyl. 4tev Kincaid B & W, 3400 bhp, 11 knots, 2 propellers. Renamed Eli Knudsen in April-1937, when a new ship being built in Hamburg was to have the name O. A. Knudsen.
Captain: Mathias Midbøe. He later served on M/S Vinland, but died on board on Apr. 4-1942 while in Halifax and is buried there (see Norwegian War Graves in Nova Scotia - external page - Captain Midbøe is listed).
Her voyages are listed on this original document from the Norwegian National Archives.
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.
Eli Knudsen is listed among the ships in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 35 in Apr.-1940, along with several other Norwegian ships. She had previously arrived Halifax from Aruba, and had a cargo of gas and fuel oil for Mersey, station 33 - follow the link for more details.
On May 3 that same year she was scheduled for Convoy OB 141 (link at the end of this page), but instead joined the next convoy, OB 142, the following day. She had station 42, and was bound for Trinidad, where she arrived independently on May 20, the convoy having been dispersed on May 8. The Norwegian Suderholm is also listed. See the external link provided within the Voyage Record above.
From Trinidad, she subsequently proceeded to Aruba a few days later, with arrival May 27.
She departed Aruba again on May 30-1940 with a cargo of 1300 tons diesel and fuel oil for the U.K. via Bermuda for convoy, arriving the latter on June 5, leaving again on June 8 in the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 49. On June 21, after the British tanker San Fernando had been torpedoed (U-47) in the middle of the convoy that day, approx. 100 n. miles southwest of Cape Clear, the Commodore gave the orders for the convoy to disperse and continue according to the secret positions stipulated by the Admiralty.
Eli Knudsen, one of the slowest ships in the convoy, found herself alone on the ocean around midnight that night, and was torpedoed in the early hours of the following morning by U-32 (Jenisch), position 50 36N 08 44W. The torpedo struck in the foreship on the starboard side, sending flames and smoke high in the air, while water, oil and iron plates flew in all directions. The crew of 37 was rescued from 2 lifeboats just a few hours later by one of the escorts, HMS Sandwich, and landed in Liverpool the next day.
Eli Knudsen remained afloat and an attempt was made the next day by the Australian rescue tug Coringa to tow her to port, but she sank on June 24, position 50 36N 07 51W. (Roy Martin, England has told me that the tug went missing on the same day the Eli Knudsen sank, cause unknown. She was believed to have capsized).
The maritime hearings were held in Liverpool on June 27-1940 with the captain, the 2nd mate, Ordinary Seaman Jonassen (lookout), Bjarne Skree (helmsman), and the 3rd engineer appearing.
The Norwegian Randsfjord was torpedoed by U-30 (Lemp) that same day, June 22. J. Rohwer says she was torpedoed in the evening of June 22, while "Nortraships flåte" lists her as being hit just after midnight on that date, about 2 1/2 hours before Eli Knudsen. "The Allied Convoy System" by Arnold Hague gives the date for San Fernando's sinking as June 22, while Rohwer agrees with my Norwegian source, June 21. Neither Rohwer nor Hague give any indication that the convoy had been dispersed.
It seems that Royal Navy still didn't fully realize how serious the U-boat threat really was, as it was speculated that the two ships above had exploded because of bombs placed on board by saboteurs, rather than by torpedoes from U-boats. The many distress calls from the ocean in the weeks and months to follow soon put such speculations to rest.
Back to Eli Knudsen on the "Ships starting with E" page.
The company had another Eli Knudsen in 1951, originally the Knut Knutsen OAS built 1949, 11 110 gt, renamed Eli Knudsen in May-1951. Blocked in the Suez Canal during the Suez crisis in Nov.-1956, able to leave in Jan.-1957. Sold to Argentina in 1961 and renamed Astramar - sold for breaking up in 1980.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Våre motorskip", Leif M. Bjørkelund & E. H. Kongshavn, "The Allied Convoy system", Arnold Hague, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum) and misc. - ref. My sources.