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To Hellen on the "Ships starting with H" page.
Manager: Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co., Drammen
Built by Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd., Kowloon, Hong Kong in 1921.
Related item on this website:
Captain: Brinck Olsen
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.
When war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, Hellen was on her way from Kirkwall to Sydney, C.B. and Baltimore. According to Page 1 of the archive doucments, she had previously arrived Kirkwall from Narvik, Norway on March 30.
In June that year, she's listed in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 47 (in which the Norwegian Italia was sunk - follow the link for details). She had a cargo of scrap iron and was bound for Ardrossan, where she arrived on June 20. The following month, A. Hague has included her, with destination New York, in Convoy OB 178, originating in Liverpool on July 3, dispersed on the 7th, Hellen arriving New York on July 20 - ref. external link provided within the table above; Austvard, Benjamin Franklin, Ingerfem, Margrethe Bakke, Senta and Skrim are also named. She now appears to have spent quite a long time in New York; according to Page 1, she did not leave again until Oct. 10, and as can be seen, she also spent over a month in Halifax, where she had arrived from New York on Oct. 15. From Halifax, she proceeded to St. John, N.B. on Nov. 24, then back to Halifax, with arrival Dec. 10. She was scheduled for the slow Convoy SC 16 from there to the U.K. on Dec. 15, but instead joined Convoy SC 17 on Dec. 23, bound for Grangemouth with scrap iron in station 43. Hellen lost touch with the convoy in the morning of Dec. 26; according to the archive document, she arrived Clyde on Jan. 8-1941 (later arrived Grangemouth on Jan. 24).
A. Hague has also listed her in Convoy OB 292, which originated in Liverpool on Febr. 28-1941 and dispersed March 6 (as will be seen when following the link to this convoy in the Voyage Record, A. Hague says that Granli had been in this convoy before she was sunk, but my information is that she had been in OB 294). A. Hague has also included Fjord, Ruth I, Selbo and Solitaire in this convoy. Going back to Page 1, we see that Hellen started out from Loch Ewe on March 2 and arrived New York March 25. She was scheduled to return to the U.K. with Convoy HX 121 from Halifax on Apr. 16 (in which Caledonia was sunk), but she was still in New York at that time and did not leave until Apr. 28 (according to A. Hague), arriving Halifax on May 1. She subsequently joined Convoy HX 125B on May 6, station 72, cargo of steel and scrap iron for Ardrossan, where she arrived on May 23. Cruising order/Commodores notes are also available for HX 125B (and the same is available for HX 121).
Along with Barbro, Elg, Hardanger, Havsten, Ida Knudsen, Solfonn, Torfinn Jarl, Troubadour and Vivi, A. Hague now has her, with destination West Africa, in Convoy OB 331, originating in Liverpool on June 8, dispersed on the 19th, Hellen arriving Freetown on July 5, having started out from Clyde. With a cargo of iron ore, she returned to the U.K. in Convoy SL 81, which departed Freetown on July 15 and arrived Liverpool on Aug. 8; Hellen arrived Ardrossan that day. Again, see the external links provided within the Voyage Record for more on these convoys. A little over a week later, we find her in station 82 of the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 8; her destination is given as New York, where she arrived (via Halifax) on Sept. 3, and again, it looks like a month was spent there before proceeding to Sydney, C.B. on Oct. 4, with arrival Oct. 9.
With a cargo of scrap steel, she's now listed among the ships in the eastbound North Atlantic Convoy SC 49, which departed Sydney, C.B. on Oct. 11 and arrived Liverpool on the 27th. The Norwegian Bonneville, Estrella, Selbo and Siljestad are also listed. This convoy is not yet available among the SC convoys included in my Convoys section, but will be added. For now, please see ships in all SC convoys. From Liverpool, Hellen proceeded to Eastham and Manchester, arriving the latter Oct. 29/30. The following month, she made a voyage to Lisbon, having joined Convoy OG 77, departing Milford Haven on Nov. 24. This convoy will also be added to an individual page in my Convoys section; in the meantime, the ships sailing in it, and names of escorts, are named on the page listing ships in all OG convoys. Blink (returned), Selbo and Sirehei (returned) are also mentioned. Hellen arrived Lisbon on Dec. 11, later travelling from there to Gibraltar, with arrival Dec. 21 - see Page 2.
Hellen left Gibraltar again in ballast in the evening of Dec. 21-1941 to pick up a cargo of iron ore in Melilla, escorted by the armed British trawler Maida. About 4 n. miles off Cape Negro (while still in neutral territory) she was hit on the port side by 2 torpedoes from U-573 (Heinsohn), position 35 41N 05 10W. The 3rd mate had seen the tracks of the torpedoes at about 23:10 but they struck before he had time to do anything. The first one hit between No. 1 and 2 Holds, probably damaging the bulkhead, the second in No. 2 Hold, and she immediately started to sink by the head. Captain Olsen was on the starboard side of the bridge at the time and was thrown down on the lower bridge by the blast, temporarily losing consciousness. When he came to he ordered the engines to be stopped by the emergency gear on the boat deck, but this failed to work.
In the meantime, the crew had lowered the forward starboard lifeboat under supervision of the 1st mate. The 2nd and 3rd mates then started to get one of the port boats ready, but before they launched it they fired 4 rockets to advise the escort of their situation. Hellen was listing to starboard at this time; the engine was still going, and being as she was deep in the water with her bow, the propeller was out of the water.
The port boat was launched with the 2nd and 3rd mates as well as a few of the crew, while the captain, the 1st mate and the majority of the crew were in the starboard boat. They were all picked up by the escorting trawler about 45 minutes later.
According to the captain's statement at the maritime hearings on Dec. 23, the lights went out at about 00:45 on the 22nd, at which time the ship took a steeper angle, and it was believed she sank around 01:00 because she could no longer be seen after that time. The survivors were landed in Gibraltar that same morning where they were taken care of by the Royal Norwegian Consul.
Crew List - No Casualties:
Related external link:
Back to Hellen on the "Ships starting with H" page.
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) and misc. (ref. My sources).