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Manager: Westfal Larsen & Co. A/S, Bergen
Delivered in Sept.-1939 from Cantieri Navali del Quarnavo, Fiume, Italy, 400' x 55.6' x 28.6', 5 cyl. 2T 3400 ihp, 13.5 knots.
Captain: Finn Rusti
As will be seen when going to Page 1 above, Grenanger was on her way from Callao (Peru) to Valparaiso and Buenos Aires when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940.
Grenanger had been transferred from the Westfal-Larsen Line (between U.S. west coast and Brasil/Argentina) to service between South America and the east coast of the U.S. She left Barnebe Island, Santos on March 29-1942 with a cargo of coffee and general for New York, and at about 13:10 on April 11, when in position 22 45N 57 13W*, she was struck by a torpedo in the starboard side between hatch No. 2 and 3. The explosion resulted in masses of water being flung up in the air, filling the decks on the starboard side as well as all the cabins, the boatdeck, and the wheelhouse, with water gushing into the engine room through the skylight. The steering gear was broken, lights went out, the engine stopped immediately, and she developed a heavy list, so they started to launch the port lifeboat and the motorboat, all the rescue equipment on the starboard side having been destroyed. In the meantime the U-boat had surfaced in front of her on the starboard side, manning its guns. Without the engine operating it was impossible to turn Grenanger around to make use of her own gun, so the crew was ordered to the boats, the captain and the 2nd mate/radio operator being the last to leave. The latter, who was off duty at the time of attack, immediately went to the radio station and sent out an SOS with their position (a patrolling aircraft observed debris in the reported position on Apr. 14), but while this was taking place U-130 (Kals) was shelling the bridge and radio station, so the 2nd mate ran to the motorboat. This had drifted off in an attempt to escape the shelling so he jumped overboard and swam towards the boat which rowed up to meet him, whereupon both boats rowed away as quickly as they could. Grenanger caught on fire and sank by the bow at 13:48.
The motorboat took the lifeboat in tow and headed southwest towards the West Indies. As it turned dark they stopped the motor, sail was set on the other lifeboat which then took the motorboat in tow. The next day, Apr. 12 sail was also set on the motorboat in order to save on petrol, and the 2 boats sailed independently. That afternoon the men in the motorboat were picked up by the British Almenara (Captain E. Shaw) which steered towards the lifeboat and offered to deviate from her own course and take all of them to Bermuda (the Memorandum says this took place 26 hours after Grenanger was sunk). However, this ship had a crew of over 30 and very little rescue equipment so they chose to sail on, after Captain Shaw had supplied them with a map and 15 gallons of water as well as some juice and cigarettes. They were able to find the motorboat again, manned it with 11 men then took it in tow with a course for Sombrero Island. The following day, Apr. 13 the motor was used for several hours and the lifeboat was towed, but when they had very little petrol left that afternoon it was again the lifeboat's turn to tow the motorboat.
On Apr. 18 they arrived Sombrero Island where they were given iced water, biscuits and tea by the 5 who operated Sombrero Light, who also offered to let them stay overnight, but they decided to continue towards St. Thomas, so after having been given paraffin, water and juice the motor was started and the voyage continued with the lifeboat in tow. Just as they left the island an aircraft came over but they were not seen. A couple of hours later another aircraft came over, but again the boats were not seen. However, at 17:30 a patrolling aircraft spotted them and notified St. Thomas. Not long afterwards 2 aircraft circled above them, 1 of which came in very low to drop a handkerchief which Gunner Altman went into the water to retrieve. It contained a message saying that the pilot would land on the water if immediate assistance was required. It also stated that a vessel was on its way from St. Thomas and would reach them in about 3 hours. Since they were not in need of immediate assistance they continued in a westerly direction as instructed by the aircraft pilot. At 23:05 that night they were hailed by a minesweeper which had been sent out from St. Thomas. While 3 men remained in the lifeboat and 2 in the motorboat, the others were taken aboard the minesweeper, USS Courier, which then took both boats in tow, arriving St. Thomas in the morning of Apr. 19. (According to the Memorandum mentioned above, Courier picked them up off Virgen Gorda, B.W.I).
The maritime hearings were held in New York on May 11-1942 with Captain Rusti, the 2nd and 3rd mates (the latter had been on duty on the bridge), Ordinary Seaman Hillaren (lookout in the crow's nest in the foremast), Able Seaman Raudeberg (helmsman), the gunner and the 3rd engineer appearing. Gunner Altman was the only trained gunner on board and was on duty when the torpedo hit, but as he was also responsible for the machine guns on the bridge, he was checking them at the time of the attack.
Back to Grenanger on the "Ships starting with G" page.
Other ships by this name: In Nov.-1946 Westfal-Larsen purchased Cape Falcon and renamed her Grenanger. Originally delivered in Sept.-1944 from Pennyslvania Shipyards Inc., Beaumont, Texas to United States War Administration, 5155 gt. Later sold (July-1962) to Vaboens Rederi, Kristiansand, renamed Herbjørn. Sold in July-1967 to Galveston Merchant S.A., Panama, renamed Galveston Merchant, renamed Indonesian Star in 1968. Broken up in Spain in 1969. A 3rd Grenanger (tanker) was delivered to the company in Nov.-1964, 12 872 gt, built in Gothenburg. Sold in Sept.-1975 to Vietnam Ocean Shipping Co., Haiphong, renamed Cuu Long I. A 4th Grenanger was delivered in Oct.-1982 (chemical tanker) to Daewo Grenanger S.A. on special hire/purchase terms, registered in Panama, 13 331 gt. This ship later sailed as Bow Explorer for Skibs-A/S Storli, Bergen from 1990, renamed Ncc Asir that same year. (Majority of info from company fleet list)
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) - (ref. My sources). The Memorandum was received from Tony Cooper, England.