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Manager: Halle & Peterson, Oslo.
Built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend, Sunderland in 1928.
Captain: William Thorsen.
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.
From Page 1 of the archive documents, we learn that Frontenac was on her way from New York to Tampico when Norway was invaded by the Germans on Apr. 9-1940. Her 1941 voyages also start on this document.
In Febr.-1941, she sailed in Convoy HX 107, in which Benjamin Franklin was sunk - follow the link for details. Frontenac was bound for Belfast with diesel oil, and had station 74 of the convoy, having joined from Bermuda. In March, she joined Convoy OG 55, which left Liverpool on March 7 and arrived Gibraltar on the 21st. Frontenac, however, was bound for New York, where she arrived on March 26, having parted company with the convoy March 12. OG 55 will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section in due course, in the meantime, the ships sailing in it are named on the page listing ships in all OG convoys; Arosa, Atle Jarl (returned), Bello, Corvus, Thyra and Trolla are also listed. Frontenac now remained in New York for a month (again, see Page 1) before proceeding to Halifax, and from there she joined Convoy HX 125B on May 6, again bound for Belfast (and Mersey) with diesel oil, having been cancelled from the previous convoy, HX 124. Cruising order/Commodore's notes are also available for HX 125B. At the end of that month, we find her, together with Hilda Knudsen and Vav, in Convoy OB 328, departing Liverpool May 29, dispersed June 2, Frontenac arriving Curacao June 18, proceeding to Freetown a couple of days later - her voyages in this period are shown on Page 2.
Skipping now to Jan. 17-1942, when she's listed in the slow Halifax-U.K. Convoy SC 65, having been cancelled from the previous convoy, SC 64. Frontenac arrived Bowling on Febr. 2, according to the archive document mentioned above. A few days later, she joined the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 64*, which also included Bruse Jarl, Primero and Snar. This convoy originated in Liverpool on Febr. 7 and arrived Halifax Febr. 24, but Frontenac had detached from the convoy on Febr. 20 and arrived Mobile March 8. Acanthus and Rose were among the escorts for a while (left on Febr. 13 to join Convoy HX 174) - see ON convoy escorts. A month later, Frontenac proceeded to Houston, Curacao and St. Michaels, and according to A. Hague, she made an independent voyage back to the U.K. from there in May, then in June, she shows up, with Ferncourt, Garnes (from Halifax), Idefjord, Kaia Knudsen, Kong Haakon VII (Commodore Vessel), Lista, Maud, Mirlo, Noreg, Scebeli, Sommerstad, Thorshøvdi, Tijuca and Troubadour, as well as the Panamanian Norvinn (Norwegian managers), in the westbound Convoy ON 103*, originating in Liverpool on June 12. Frontenac sailed from Loch Ewe that day and arrived New York on the 29th, leaving again the next day for Curacao. Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 3, with convoy info for some of them in the Voyage Record above.
William Thorsen had just recently survived the sinking of D/T Moira. His personal account of both incidents is included in "Menn uten medaljer". Moira was torpedoed on June 17-1942 (follow the link to my page about this ship for the captain's story), and William Thorsen then joined Frontenac, probably late in Aug.-1942. He says she was a good ship, with a 4 inch gun aft, 2 Oerlikons and other armament amidships, and 2 aft. He starts his account by saying that just as they were about to depart on his first trip an American ship ran into them while proceeding up the Hudson River and they were delayed while repairing (as can be seen when going back to her Voyage Record above, A. Hague states she collided with a barge on Aug. 28 and returned to New York that same day). After repairs, they proceeded to Curacao, and then joined a convoy at Guantanamo, bound for New York. Again, see the Voyage Record, as well as Page 3 of the archive documents.
From New York, Frontenac joined Convoy HX 212 on Oct. 18. She had a cargo of 10 500 tons oil. On Oct. 27, she was torpedoed and damaged by U-436 (Seibicke), but managed to reach Lamlash alone. The whale factory Kosmos II was sunk in this convoy (the Norwegian Abraham Lincoln was the Vice Commodore Ship). See also the Commodore's report, where Frontenac is mentioned under Oct. 27, as well as under the heading "Commodore's comments re. attacks on HX 212".
The captain says there were 52 ships that went out to meet up with the other ships in the convoy off Halifax. 2 of them were Swedish according to him, but there's only one Swedish ship listed in this convoy, and only 45 ships left from New York, while another 7 joined from Halifax on the 21st (see the convoy link above). The commodore, an elderly English officer, had embarked an old English passenger ship, 2 corvettes were in front, 2 on each side and 2 behind them. Frontenac was in the 1st position in row 3* on the starboard(?) side, Kosmos II was inside her, while the floating factory Sourabaya (British, 10 107 gt) was in front of Kosmos II. For the first few days Newfoundland based aircraft were with them, and before the planes returned to base they warned the ships an attack could be expected around 30 ° W, as a Uboat had been observed every day. Captain Thorsen says the weather looked promising, with strong winds from north/northeast, with snow and heavy seas, causing them problems in keeping up with the 9 knot convoy speed, but at the same time reducing visibility for possible U-boats. By Oct. 27 they had reached 30° W, weather still "good" with hailstorms, strong northeast winds and heavy seas. Next to Frontenac was Kosmos II, playing "Ja vi elsker" (the Norwegian national anthem) over the loudspeakers. That morning they were told that a large group of U-boats was lying in wait ahead of them, and an attack could be expected that night.
It appears that Frontenac was the first ship to be hit; the captain says he immediately saw Sourabaya in front of him, with her men trying to get away in lifeboats, then Kosmos II "stopped" a torpedo with her middle**. Just behind them was a small American ship in sinking condition (this was probably Gurney E. Newlin, though she was not small, 8225 gt). The captain claims that the 2 Swedish ships now turned all their lights on to illuminate the Swedish flag on their sides, and is furious that neutral ships were allowed in a convoy if they were to be permitted to light it up at the first sign of danger (note that these ships do not appear to have been part of the convoy; the neutral ships were sailing in the opposite direction - see the Commodore's report for HX 212). Sourabaya now came drifting towards Frontenac and all efforts went towards avoiding a collision with the out of control factory. There was no response in the engine room to orders, nor was there anyone at the helm, so the English radio operator was told to take over and managed to turn her away. Several lifeboats were "dancing up and down like nutshells on the enormous waves". Flames were shooting up from the front of the ship, and even when she emerged from a deep dive, the water had done nothing to extinguish the flames. He could hear the propeller "whip the water as if it were a Mix-Master". Finally, Frontenac made a giant effort to rid herself of the flames by performing a deep nose dive, and when she came out of it the flames were gone.
The next problem was the fact that Frontenac was so front heavy that the propeller was just whipping in thin air at the back, so they needed to make the front part lighter in order to help the aft part drop, thereby giving the propeller some water to work with again. Mate Arntzen volunteered for the job of going down in the foreward tanks to open the valves and start the pumps. The oil was thick, and flowed out very slowly, but by the next afternoon they were rid of about 1000 tons oil, though this had, of course, left a trail of oil in the water behind them, which could easily have provided a path for U-boats to follow. Damages on the ship were extensive, but she stayed afloat and for 7 days they sailed on, having initially headed straight south at full speed, which was no more than 4 knots while trying to empty the foreward tanks, but once that operation had been completed normal speed could be resumed. On the 8th night they estimated they were about 50 miles west of Ireland. The captain was extremely tired and irritable as he hadn't been out of his clothes or in a bed for the 7 days and nights. All of a sudden a large convoy appeared in front of them, and soon a destroyer came alongside Frontenac, but after having signalled who they were and their convoy number they were left alone again, while the convoy continued south. Later (the captain says), they found out that they had encountered the Torch armada. Frontenac reached port with no further incident, but date and port of arrival are not given in this account. Page 3 of the archive docs gives arrival Lamlash as Nov. 5, A. Hague gives Nov. 4 (see also this posting to my Ship Forum).
According to an article in "Krigsseileren, Issue No. 4-1994 (by Ian Millar), Captain Thorsen, 1st Mate Sigurd Arntzen and Pumpman Emil Larsen all received "Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea" for saving their ship on this voyage. This article states that the torpedo struck the bow in the foreward deep tank which contained the fuel oil. A fire erupted under the forecastle head and the fuel oil exploded, but the fire was under control in an hour and a half. The article further states that 1st Mate Arntzen and Pumpman Larsen both went down into the pump room with a rope attached to them for safety and had the pumps going in a short time, with the result that the ship's head lifted, gradually allowing the speed to be increased to 4 knots. "6 days after the torpedoing they made contact with a destroyer which remained with Frontenac until she reached Londonderry". Follow this link to Nyholt for a description of this medal and names of others who received it.
George Monk, England has told me that the captain, 1st mate and pumpman also received the following (his source: Seedies List of awards to the British Merchant Navy which includes awards to Allied merchant seamen):
Captain Thorsen - Hon OBE (Civ)
Sourabaya casualties - Norwegians only are commemorated at this memorial for seamen in Stavern, Norway. This website says that the first one listed, Oskar Arnold Dalen died following a war related accident in Liverpool in Nov.-1940, the other 2 died in a "war action", but no date is given for their demise. Sourabaya was British, managed by Chr. Salvesen & Co., Edinburg. She lost 77 men, 81 survived - Uboat.net has an account on her sinking.
According to A. Hague, Frontenac had arrived Tyne for repairs of the torpedo damages on Nov. 21-1942 (again, see also Page 3). She did not leave again until March 8-1943, with a new forepart. Having proceeded to Loch Ewe, she now joined the westbound Convoy ON 173*, together with B. P. Newton, Emma Bakke, Dageid, Ferncourt, Haakon Hauan, Idefjord, Mosli, Pan Aruba, Skaraas, Stiklestad, Strinda and Thorshov. This convoy originated in Liverpool on March 13 and arrived Halifax on the 29th, but Frontenac sailed on to New York, with arrival there March 31, later proceeding to Curacao. In May that year, she can be found among the ships in Convoy HX 237 from New York to the U.K. The Norwegian Sandanger and Brand became stragglers and were sunk - follow the links for details. Frontenac's destination is given as Shellhaven, where she arrived, via Loch Ewe and Methil Roads, on May 22. The following month, she's listed, along with Annik (joined from St. John's), Athos, Braga (from Iceland), Bralanta, Elisabeth Bakke, Fagerfjell, Helgøy, Kronprinsen, Lista, Morgenen, Norbryn, Norefjord, O. B. Sørensen, President de Vogue, Toledo and Vanja, as well as the Panamanian Norvinn, in the westbound Convoy ON 187*, which originated in Liverpool on June 1 and arrived New York June 15. Her subsequent voyages are listed on Page 4, and in the above Voyage Record.
In Oct.-1943, she made a voyage from Malta to Port Said, having sailed in Convoy KMS 28*. Boreas, Fridtjof Nansen, Gezina, Lynghaug and Norvarg are also listed in this convoy, which had sailed from Gibraltar on Oct. 7. Fronteanc had departed Malta on Oct. 13 and arrived Port Said on the 19th, proceeding to Haifa the next day, then on to Alexandria and Augusta, with arrival the latter on Nov. 2. From there, she headed back to Port Said on Nov. 15, arriving Nov. 21, having sailed in Convoy KMS 31*. Other Norwegian ships in this convoy were Askeladden, Egda, Germa, Knoll, Lido, Norlom, Polartank and Somerville.
In Febr.-1944, she's listed, with Far, Høegh Hood, Kaia Knudsen, Norvarg and Star, in Convoy MKS 41*, voyage Port Said-Augusta (arrived Febr. 25). In March, she made a voyage from Augusta to Algiers in Convoy MKS 42*, which also included Havkong. The following month, she appears, together with Hermion, Hjalmar Wessel, Norheim, Roald Amundsen and Topdalsfjord, in Convoy MKS 46*, voyage from Port Said to Augusta, and later that month she made a voyage from Augusta to Algiers with Convoy MKS 47*. Facto and Marathon are also named. From Algiers, where she had arrived on Apr. 29, she headed to the U.S. on May 3, arriving New York May 21 - again, see Hague's Voyage Record as well as Page 5.
She subsequently joined Convoy HX 300 from New York on July 17 (the largest convoy ever); her destination is given as Milford Haven and Portsmouth. She returned to New York the following month with Convoy ON 249*, which originated in Liverpool on Aug. 18 and arrived New York Sept. 2, and also had Gylfe, Høyanger, Høegh Hood, Kaia Knudsen, Laurits Swenson, Lista, Maud, Minerva, Norden, Norma (Vice Commodore's Ship), Skaraas, Skiensfjord, Torborg and Velma in its ranks. A few days later, we find Frontenac in Convoy HX 307, along with Buenos Aires, Fagerfjell, Idefjord, John Bakke (Commodore Vessel), Kaia Knudsen, Thorsholm and Stiklestad. Some of these ships, including Frontenac, went back across the Atlantic again with Convoy ON 257*, originating in Liverpool on Oct. 2, arriving New York Oct. 18. Buenos Aires, G. C. Brøvig, Heranger, Kaia Knudsen and Norbryn are named. Just 2 days later, she's listed in Convoy HX 315 from New York, for which the Norwegian Ivaran served as Commodore Vessel. Frontenac arrived Liverpool on Nov. 3, Stanlow Nov. 5, then joined Convoy ON 265* on the 9th of that month, arriving New York Nov. 23. Again, see Page 5. She had again been in the company of other Norwegians ships, namely Elg, Kaia Knudsen, Leiv Eiriksson and Solør.
On Jan. 13-1945, she joined Convoy HX 332; Abraham Lincoln served as Commodore Vessel for this convoy, in which Solør was torpedoed - follow the link for details. Frontenac's destination is given as Portsmouth, where she arrived Jan. 28, returning to New York with Convoy ON 282* (from Liverpool Febr. 1, to New York Febr. 19). Brimanger, Egerø, Ferncourt, Fjordaas, Kaldfonn and Topdalsfjord (Commodore Vessel) are also listed. According to A. Hague, she later joined the eastbound Convoy HX 344* from New York on March 14, but was detached on the 28th in order to join the slower Convoy SC 170*, which had started out in Halifax on March 17 and arrived Liverpool on the 31st. Both these convoys also had other Norwegian ships, namely Anna Knudsen, Fernwood, Havkong and Topdalsfjord (Commodore Vessel) in HX 344, and Askepot, Biscaya, Brønnøy, Brush, Chr. Th. Boe, Geisha (Commodore Vessel), Romulus, Tercero and Titanian in the SC convoy. Frontenac had a cargo of crude oil and sun fuel, taking station 32, and from Liverpool she proceeded to Manchester, with arrival Apr. 3 - see Page 6. Together with Elg, Marie Bakke, Rena (Commodore Vessel) and Romulus, she now joined the westbound Convoy ONS 47*, departing Liverpool on Apr. 11. She arrived New York on May 2, and her last Trans-Atlantic convoy voyage was made in Convoy HX 355*, departing New York on May 9. Skiensfjord (Commodore vessel) and Polartank are also listed. According to the archive document mentioned above, Frontenac anchored in The Downs on May 26, then proceeded to Scheldt and Antwerp.
Her voyages up to and including Apr.-1946 are shown on Page 7.
Back to Frontenac on the "Ships starting with F" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland and misc. others as named within above text.