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Manager: P. Meyer, Oslo
Built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Newcastle (1372), delivered in June 1930 as Havbør to A/S Havbør (P. Meyer ), Oslo. 6 cyl. 2 TEV DM (builders), 3150 bhp.
Captain: Halvor Skarrebo.
Related item on this website:
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
After the German invasion of Norway on Apr. 9-1940 it was not uncommon for Norwegian ships in foreign trade to be treated with distrust and suspicion, resulting in quite a few of them being forced into British port by the authorities, and even put under armed guard for a while. This also happened to Havbør on Apr. 13 (en route Balikpapan-Sydney), when she was stopped by Australian war ships and escorted to Darwin, then on to Thursday Island, together with M/T Thordis. They were subsequently joined by Anders Jahre and Høegh Giant, before continuing to Brisbane on Apr. 19.
Havbør, with a crew of 33, was on a voyage from Abadan to the U.K. via Cape Town (for bunkers and provisions - according to the archive document, she had left Cape Town on Nov. 1) and Freetown with a cargo of 11 500 tons crude oil when she was torpedoed by U-65 (von Stockhausen) on Nov. 14-1940 (04 24N 13 46W). At the time, she was in the process of taking on board 20-30 men from a raft from the British D/S Kohinur, which had previously been torpedoed by the same U-boat - ref. external link at the end of this page. The men on the raft warned the crew on Havbør that the U-boat was nearby, but the port boat was nevertheless launched with 8 men, while 8 men went to the gun (she had a 4.7" and 2 ordinary magazine guns). The torpedo hit in the after tank on the port side just as the lifeboat with the shipwrecked men was alongside.
According to 2nd Engineer Birger Hansen's statement at the subsequent maritime hearings, 3 rafts had been seen with 40-50 men on them. When the explosion occurred the main steam line to the port boiler burst and the lights went out. In addition to the engineer, the Danish Stoker Karl Jensen and the Norwegian Oiler Kåre Hofsten were also in the engine room, and they all ran up, but when they got to the last ladder on the top engine room grating they had to turn back because of the fire, the entire ship being ablaze from amidship at that time. The engineer then tried to get into the boiler room but was met by steam pouring out of the fractured steam pipes, so he went back to the maneuvering platform in order to get a lamp, and when he came back up he couldn't see the other 2 men. The engineer managed to get on deck by the after part of the casing on the starboard side, then jumped overboard, and it so happened that he had jumped into a narrow channel which the burning oil had not yet reached. He spotted the Danish Carpenter Kai Frandsen (from Fredrikshavn) and Stoker Karsten Waag, and they swam towards a raft that had just been vacated by the men from Kohinur, on which Ordinary Seaman Fritz Kristiansen was already sitting. The latter jumped into the water again to assist the engineer, who was exhausted by then. Shortly afterwards the Danish Mechanic Nils Dragsbek (from Tisted, Denmark) also came swimming towards them and was taken up on the raft. They tore some planks loose and paddled for life away from the burning oil.
No other survivors were seen after Havbør had gone down around midnight, about 7 hours after the attack. During the night the men on the raft encountered a lifeboat from Kohinur and asked to be taken on board, but after having inquired how much water the Norwegians had on the raft, the lifeboat sailed on with no further ado. One explanation could be that the boat was already crowded and did not have enough water for all of them, because 35 men from Kohinur were rescued from their lifeboat by a British ship on Nov. 16, and this may well have been the same boat. They arrived Freetown on Nov. 19 and notified the authorities there about what had happened to the missing Havbør.
In the meantime the 5 on the raft kept drifting. On Nov. 16 the Danish Mechanic Nils Dragsbek died; he had been very badly burnt and unconscious for the last 24 hours. He was buried in the sea. They had a can of water and some tins of sweetened milk as well as some bread, but the latter was spoilt by salt water within a couple of days. After all the water was gone they were able to collect more from the heavy tropical rain showers. All of them suffered from burns, which were bandaged as best they could with the first aid articles found on the raft. 3 ships were seen in the course of the 9 days on the raft, but it was impossible to attract their attention, the 2 rockets having been spoilt. On Nov. 24 they were rescued by the British D/S Baron Ardrossan which landed them in Freetown where they were all taken to a hospital. The 2nd engineer remained hospitalized for 2 weeks.
The maritime hearings were held in Newcastle on Tyne on Jan. 24-1941 with the 2nd engineer and the carpenter appearing. Much of the account above is from their statements. The 2nd engineer stated that the 1st mate had acted as radio operator on this voyage, their regular radio operator (Nilsen?) having "deserted" while in Cape Town, together with a stoker named Halvorsen and an Ordinary Seaman by the last name of Hansen.
The 1st mate had been seen by the surviving Carpenter Kai Frandsen after the explosion. Frandsen had jumped overboard from the forecastle and the 1st mate was with him as he started to swim away from the flames. The mate, who was badly burnt, had called out to him, but when the carpenter turned around to look for him he disappeared immediately. The carpenter had also seen the captain lowering himself down from the bridge by a rope, but the rope burnt across and he fell down on the deck. Most of the crew had been aft and were believed to have died in the flames. Those who had tried to jump clear must have perished in the burning oil around the ship. The people in the lifeboat, including the rescued men, were also believed to have died immediately in the masses of flame. The boat had been only a few meters away from where the torpedo had struck.
Related external links:
Back to Havbør on the "Ships starting with H" page.
Other ships by this name: This company had previously had another Havbør, 1009 gt - originally delivered from Nylands verksted in June-1897 as Bayard to Fred. Olsen, sold in 1915 to D/S A/S Bess (Harald Hansen), Skien, renamed Bess, sold in 1922 to A/S Havtor, (P. Meyer) and renamed Havbør. Sold in 1928 to D/S Bremaer (Kr. Knudsen), Kristiansand, renamed Bremaer. Sold in 1936 to Höyrylaiva Oy Anna (E. Fagerström), Rauma and renamed Anna. Wrecked on a voyage Riga-Leith on Dec. 7-1959. In Apr.-1947 another Havbør was delivered, built by Eriksbergs mek. Verkstads A/B, Gothenburg, 9802 gt. Sold in 1960 and renamed Brarena (Ludv. G. Braathen, Oslo). Condemned following a collision off Singapore with M/T Riyu Maru on Apr. 19-1964, arrived Hong Kong for breaking up on July 7-1964. In Apr.-1963 yet another Havbør was delivered, built by Götaverken, Gothenburg, 26 519 gt. Sold to Buenos Aires in 1977, renamed Astracruz, became Panamanian Shaula I in 1986, broken up in Shanghai in 1986. Another Havbør was built in Japan, originally delivered as Panamanian Malaya in 1989, 36 549 gt, became Norwegian Havbør that same year. Sold to Monrovia in 1995, renamed Ispat Tarang, broken up in 2004.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Misc. sources, incl. "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. for cross checking info - ref. My sources.